Poland’s wartime consul in Switzerland, believed to have saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, has been named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
The honour for the late Konstanty Rokicki was announced just before Passover. Yad Vashem also expressed appreciation for the work of other consuls in the mission, Stefan Jan Ryniewicz and Lados Alksander.
But it was Rokicki who was at the centre of a unique covert operation to issue fake Paraguayan passports to thousands of Jews, many of whom were associated with the strictly Orthodox Agudat Yisrael group.
The scheme, carried out with the assistance of the Paraguayan consul, was discovered by Swiss police in 1943, but not before Rokicki had helped smuggle the fake passports to Jews in Poland and the Netherlands.
Astonishingly, despite the urging of the Nazi hierarchy, no action was taken against Rokicki, who remained in the diplomatic service until the end of the war.
He settled permanently in Switzerland and died in Lucerne in 1958.
His role was not generally known until 2017 when a Canadian journalists and two Polish colleagues wrote about the rescue operation.