The Auschwitz Museum acquires the second part of the archive concerning the Ładoś Group
After nearly two years of negotiations, the Auschwitz Museum acquired original documents of the second part of the so-called Eiss Archive. Among them, one can find several dozen photos of Jews, including famous figures that the group led by Polish Ambassador in Bern Aleksander Ładoś attempted to provide with Latin American documents. Analyses confirmed the authenticity of the collection.
“We have new photographs of 83 individuals. Some of them are sensational. They show, among others, Rutka Laskier aged 14, diary author from Będzin, called Polish Anne Frank. We can also see Wolf Begin, father of future Prime Minister of Israel as well as the leaders of Jewish Military Union and right-wing Zionists”, said Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz Museum.
The unique collection was acquired from a private owner in Israel thanks to the efforts of the Polish Embassy in Bern and Markus Blechner, an honorary consul in Zurich. Blechner, aged 79, a descendant of Shoah survivors, who also played a crucial role in regaining the first part of the Eiss Archive in 2018, including among others 15 Paraguayan passports forged by Polish diplomats rescuing the Jews.
“First of all I wish to thank consul Blechner for his commitment. I would also like to thank Prime Minister Piotr Gliński for his consent to immediately acquire the collection and Polish diplomats for immediately organizing the operation of bringing these priceless records to the country”, Director Cywiński emphasized. He also added that the analyses confirmed the authenticity of the collection.
The Eiss Archive constitutes one of the most important collections of archival records documenting the activity of Ładoś Group. Led by the then Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Switzerland, the team consisting of several Polish and Jewish members, supervised mass manufacturing of thousands of illegal passports from Paraguay, Honduras, Haiti, and Peru.
The Eiss Archive documents the work of one of the members of the group, Chaim Eiss, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Yisrael group. Eiss would provide personal data, basing on which the Poles forged Paraguayan passports. He died suddenly in mid-November 1943, and his archive was discovered in the attic of his house in Zurich many years later.
“The new part of the Archive importantly broadens the knowledge on the scope of Ładoś Group’s activities,” said Dr. Jakub Kumoch, former Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Switzerland, who cooperated with Blechner during the talks on obtaining both parts of the collection. “I expected that one of the photos could represent Rutka Laskier as an important part of her more distant family was provided with passports. The names of Wolf Begin and Dawid Wdowiński, as well as of right-wing Zionist leaders, constituted a surprise for me. This marks a new trace in the research”, added Kumoch, current Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Turkey.
According to Jakub Kumoch, there is no evidence that the people whose photographs have just reached the Museum actually obtained the passports. According to him, it is equally legitimate to claim that there was not enough time to forge them. The photographs arrived probably already after the Swiss police had discovered the passport operation and honorable consuls who used to sell them to Ładoś Group had been fired, or maybe just before Eiss’s death.
Kumoch and other authors of the Ładoś List, published in December in Polish and in February in English, claim that Polish diplomats and their Jewish partners attempted to rescue between 8 to 10 thousand Jews from over 15 countries of occupied Europe. They came mainly from Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and pre-war Czechoslovakia. The names and surnames of 3254 of them have so far been successfully restored.
Among the documented owners of Ładoś’s passports, one can find for example writers Yehiel De-Nur alias Ka-Tsetnik 135633, Georg Hermann, Marietta Moskin and Stanisław Wygodzki, rabbis Aron Schuster and Israel Spira, as well as future Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Adam Rotfeld with his parents. The list also includes the names of Hannela Goslar, Anne Frank’s friend, Dutch mathematician Bob Herschberg or the leaders of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, among others Icchak Cukierman and Cywia Lubetkin.
According to the authors, at least 2 to 3 thousand individuals covered by the activity of the Ładoś Group could have survived the Shoah. The majority of them are Jews from Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland.
The list was published by the Pilecki Institute under the patronage of the World Jewish Congress. It has so far been presented in Warsaw, London, New York, Hartford, and Berlin.
The Eiss Archive to be transferred to the Museum
Exhibition of documents from the Eiss Archive in Bern
Documents from the Eiss Archive on exhibition at the UN Office in Geneva
The Eiss Archive, a testimony to the rescue of Jews by Polish diplomats during the Holocaust was presented at Belweder in Warsaw
US Vice President Mike Pence saw one of the original passports from the so-called Eiss Archives