Konstanty Rokicki, a Polish consul in Bern, together with Jewish associations active in Switzerland and United States, saved hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust. Previously unpublished documents, found last year in the Polish Embassy in Switzerland, depict how a complex, diplomatic intrigue helped Polish officials to save hundreds of lives.
It is estimated that between 1941 and 1943, Konstanty Rokicki, diplomat Juliusz Kühl, his subordinate, and four other individuals in Bern acting together as the Bernese Six, produced several thousands of illegal Paraguayan passports which served as protection documents for Jews stranded in the Nazi ghettos in German-occupied Poland and who were threatened with deportation from German-occupied Netherlands. The activity of the Bernese Six was financed by the Polish Government-in-Exile in London.
Rokicki personally bribed the Paraguayan honorary consul, Bernese notary Rudolf Hügli to obtain blank passes which Rokicki filled out with the names of the rescued Jews. The lists of beneficiaries and their photos were smuggled between Bern and occupied Poland thanks to the network of Jewish organizations, in particular Agudat Yisrael and RELICO, headed by Chaim Eiss and Abraham Silberschein respectively. The passports of Paraguay – unlike the passports of other Latin American countries – had a special value, because this country – under the pressure of Poland and the Holy See – temporarily recognized their validity.
Konstanty Rokicki died unknown in Swizerland in 1958. He should be as well known as Oskar Schindler.
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