Passports

Exhibition “Passports”

carried out by the Pilecki Institute in cooperation with the Polish Embassy in Bern

tells the stories of just diplomats saving Polish Jews and about the reaction of the underground state and government in exile to the crimes of the Holocaust.


The purpose of the exhibition is to present the role of the Polish government in exile and the Polish Underground State in informing the world about the extermination of Jews and actions taken to save them. The exhibition was organized in connection with research conducted by the Pilecki Institute in cooperation with the Polish Embassy in Switzerland. So far, based on research, a list of 710 names of Jews has been published, including 115 survivors from the Holocaust, who as a result of the efforts of the so-called Berne Group had the passports of Haiti and Honduras. The exhibition presents in detail the activities of the Berne Group and its main operators, including Chaim Eiss and Aleksandra Ładoś.

 

The Berne Group was an informal form of cooperation between Polish diplomats from the Polish mission in Bern and the representatives of Jewish organizations to save European Jews. Under the leadership of Ambassador Alexander Ładoś, the group provided false South American passports to Paraguay, El Salvador, Bolivia, Peru, Haiti and Honduras and other countries. Such passports protected their owners from deportation to extermination camps in Poland occupied by the Third Reich. According to various estimates, a total of about 4,000 documents were issued. The number of survivors remains unknown.

 

The most valuable objects from the Eiss archive are presented in showcases: passports, bills, correspondence between Chaim Eiss and Polish diplomats. There are also letters between Jews in ghettos and Silberschein, who was one of the intermediaries between Polish Jews and a diplomatic mission. Visitors will be able to view documents, including in the form of reprints.

 

A special multimedia presentation gives you the opportunity to view over one hundred unusual portraits from the Eiss archive. These are photographs of Polish Jews created to prepare passport documents that were to enable them escape and save their lives.

 

The motto of the entire exhibition is a poem by a Polish Jew, poet and chronicler of the Warsaw Ghetto ,murdered in 1943 by Władysław Szlengel “Passports”:

 

I would like to have a Paraguayan passport

rich and free is this country

ah, how nice to be a subject

of the country called Paraguay.

 

I would like to have a Uruguayan passport

have Costa Rica, Paraguay,

in order to live peacefully in Warsaw,

however, this is the most beautiful country.


Organizer: The Pilecki Institute in Warsaw: www.instytutpilecki
Cooperation: the Polish Embassy in Switzerland


Authors:

Hanna Radziejowska,

Director of the Pilecki Institute Wojciech Kozłowski,

Ambassador dr. Jakub Kumoch, Joanna Kumoch, Jędrzej Uszyński


Project: Zespół Wespół
Realisation: Trik- Trak
Sound installation: Patryk Zakrocki

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