The Yad Vashem Institute did not award Aleksander Ładoś and Stefan Ryniewicz the Righteous Among the Nations title. Ładoś and Ryniewicz were Polish diplomats active in Switzerland during World War II. Thanks to the fabricated passports of Latin American countries issued by the Poles, it was possible to save Jews from the hands of the German occupiers.
The so-called Ładoś Group saved Jews in the years 1941-1943.
“The unprecedented decision not to recognize the person who was one of those who saved the lives of the greatest number of people during the Holocaust creates a paradox: Ładoś was called Righteous by his Jewish colleagues during the Holocaust, but this title was denied to him by Israelis, some of them born many years after the war,” commented Jakub Kumoch, the head of the International Policy Bureau in the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, who previously held the position of, among other things, ambassador to Switzerland and has been publicizing the activities of the Ładoś Group for many years.
Kumoch points out that the Institute’s letter to Markus Blechner, honorary Polish consul in Zurich, did not provide any reasons for refusing to award these Polish diplomats. It was noted that Ładoś and Ryniewicz helped Jews during the Holocaust and that Yad Vashem invariably assessed their attitude positively.
The head of the Polish legation in Bern during World War II, Ładoś and the group around him (known as the Ładoś Group or the Bernese group), which also included Ryniewicz, who worked as a diplomat, manufactured passports of Paraguay and three other Latin American countries – reminds Kumoch.
The “Ładoś List”
In 2020, the Pilecki Institute published the “Ładoś List” – a list of the names of 3,262 Jews to whom passports were issued. The documents certainly saved the lives of 796 people from this group, 957 did not survive the Holocaust, and the fate of the rest is not yet known. Historians emphasize that the list is incomplete and estimate that the Bernese group could have issued 8,000-10,000 passports.
As Kumoch points out, one of the members of the Ładoś Group, Consul Konstanty Rokicki was awarded the title of Righteous in 2019, but his family refused to accept the medal as a sign of protest against the failure to consider Ładoś.
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