Re: An Article About Jews Saved During the Holocaust by Polish Diplomats In Switzerland #poland #holocaust

Bernard Flam

Hi from Paris,

Polish diplomats in Switzerland had also an unknown action during these tragic years.


From 1942 to 1944, more than 200 members (families or single children) of French Arbeter Ring (Cercle Amical, now Centre Medem) could be smuggled across Swiss borders and saved : my mother was one of them.


So I focused a part of my researches on the network which organized this salvation, visiting many times Swiss archives and accessing private archives.


This network was headed by a Swiss bundist, Liebmann Hersch, managed by Nathan Frenkel coming from Paris in 1942 and mainly financed by American Jewish Labor Committee.


In Bern (Swiss confederation capital), Polish diplomats in the consulate were the delegates of Free Poland government established in London after Poland's invasion (September 1939).


All Polish democratic forces were represented in this government, including Bund by Arthur Zygielbaum, (who committed suicide later to denounce Allies' silence during Warsaw ghetto uprising and extermination of European  Jewry).


Absolutely unknown from anybody saved by our network, I discovered in Zurich's (CH) public archives of OSEO (a Swiss and socialist Worker's Organization which greatly helped our refugees) as in Frenkel's private archives, how Polish diplomats had been involved in our network :

·         Most of our members were Polish, either because they had no enough time to become French citizens after their immigration in the 30's, either because ignominious Vichy's laws voided a lot of  Jews' French naturalization established after 1927.  

·         So when a person was smuggled through the France-Swiss border and was arrested by Swiss custom or police, he was sent to a internment camp in Geneva.

·         During his military police's examination, he could ask to contact OSEO, an official Swiss organization and tell them: "Let M. Frenkel know I am arrived".

·         As soon M. Frenkel recognized this person as "related to the Bund (whatever was country, Belgium, France, ...)", our network's official help was afforded, including personal financial support with these rules :

o   60% paid by JLC funds through Liebmann Hersch

o   40% paid by Polish consulate in Bern

o   None financial support of Jewish refugees could stay at Switzerland's charge.

·         I haven't data concerning support of the other Polish citizens.


I attach a note (from OSEO archives) signed by Dr. Kuhl, the Polish consul appearing on most of "my" documents : this note is about a mother with her son and confirm Polish due payments for 3 months.


I take this last opportunity in this year, and first of 2020 (time to display my post) to thank all JewisGen staff and volunteers for their amazing work.


And to wish from Paris "Une bonne et heureuse année 2020 " to our broad community of Jewish genealogy detectives !



Bernard Flam

Archives and history of Centre Medem (French Arbeter Ring)

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