The recent acquisition of the second part of the Eiss Archives showcases passport pictures of 83 Jews, including Israel’s former Prime Minister, Menachem Begin’s father; a leader of the Jewish Military Union (ŻŻW) Dawid Widowinski and his wife, and Rutka Laskier, Będzin Ghetto diarist, considered ‘Polish Ann Frank’. Although it is not clear if the photos of the second part of the Eiss Archive were ever used, they were sent to Chaim Eiss, who was to forward them to the Legation of Poland.
In 2018, after nearly 75 years of negotiations, Poland acquired parts of the so-called ‘Eiss Archive’ - the most extensive collection of documents detailing the pursuit of Polish diplomacy in an attempt to rescue Jews endangered by the Holocaust. The Collection includes eight Paraguayan passports forged by Polish diplomats to save Jews, as well as unique and unused photographs of persons applying for such passports. It also consists of an original list with several thousand names of Jews from the ghetto the diplomats tried to rescue from the Holocaust, and several documents, including correspondence between Polish diplomats and Jewish organisations. The collection also includes a list of names of children from Warsaw orphanages.
This significant acquisition was a key in the future research conducted by the Pilecki Institute in Warsaw and the Polish Embassy in Switzerland, resulting in the so-called ‘Ładoś List’.
Thanks to the Eiss documents, Polish researchers managed to establish a list of 3262 holders of Latin-American passports issued to Jews during the Holocaust by the Legation of the Republic of Poland in Switzerland under the lead of Aleksander Ładoś, and in cooperation with Jewish organisations. In a joint effort, Polish diplomats and activists of Jewish organisations obtained passports from Latin American countries, which were then sent to Jews in occupied Europe. These were mainly passports from Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru and Haiti, which prevented their holders in ghettos from deportation to German extermination camps. Instead, their owners were sent to internment camps, where some of them survived the war.
The ‘Ładoś Group’ consisted of Aleksander Ładoś, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Bern, his Deputy Stefan Ryniewicz, Consul Konstanty Rokicki, as well as the Attache of the Embassy, Juliusz Kuehl. Their partners were two Jewish organisations - the RELICO Committee headed by Abraham Silberschein and the Swiss branch of Aguda Yisroel led by mentioned above Chaim Eiss.
Originally published in Polish, the Pilecki Institute’s findings soon became an international affair with the public actively contributing by bringing new accounts of Jews rescued by the Ładoś Group. As a result, the English edition has been appended with 50 additional accounts of people saved from the Holocaust by the Polish diplomats and Jewish activists. Notably, British journalist and a peer and member of the House of Lords, Lord Daniel Finkelstein, discovered that the name of his mother, Miriam Wiener, features in the ‘Ładoś List’.
The Lados List is available at : instytutpileckiego.pl/pl/wydarzenia/t