13.12.2021 Events, Polish-Jewish Relations

Exhibition Passports for Life

October 10-December 31, 2021 

Holocaust Museum LA
100 The Grove Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90036

The exhibition Passports for Life, devoted to efforts of rescuing European Jews during World War II, opened on Sunday, October 10, at the Holocaust Museum LA. The Exhibition will be on display until the end of 2021.

The Ładoś Group

The Ładoś Group, operating in Switzerland and composed of Polish diplomats and representatives of Jewish organizations, issued to Jews fake passports of neutral Latin American countries. The exhibition premiere in the oldest Holocaust Museum in the US is a result of the cooperation between the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles and the Pilecki Institute.

Passports for Life – exhibition on Ładoś’s list

80 years ago, in 1941, in Bern, Switzerland, Polish diplomats in cooperation with Jewish circles launched the so-called “passport initiative” to save Jews from the Holocaust. Aleksander Ładoś, Konstanty Rokicki, Abraham Silberschein, Chaim Eiss, Stefan Ryniewicz, and Juliusz Kühl, also known as Ładoś Group, issued fake passports and citizenship certificates of Latin American countries in the names of Jews threatened with extermination. It gave these individuals a chance to be interned and possibly exchanged for German prisoners of war, rather than being sent to death camps.

The Museum’s CEO Beth Kean said: “We are thrilled to partner with Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles to host Passports for Life at Holocaust Museum LA for the first time it is exhibited in the United States. With rising anti-Semitism, worldwide humanitarian and refugee crises, and growing intolerance between communities worldwide, it is more important than ever to tell the stories of those who stood up and saved lives.”

The Pilecki Institute, in cooperation with its partners in Poland and abroad, has for several years conducted research and archival queries on the activities of Ładoś Group. This has resulted, among other things, in the publication in 2019 of the scientific study Ładoś List with the names of more than three thousand people for whom passports were issued. The efforts of the researchers not only confirmed the course of action of the passport operation but also proved that we are dealing with one of the largest rescue operations carried out by diplomats during the Holocaust.  

The publication of Ładoś List also made it possible to see its uniqueness. It has been established that not only Polish Jews were saved, but also citizens of other countries, including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Czechoslovakia.

“The story of the Ładoś Group deserves to be told and shared. That is why we are happy that the Passports for Life exhibition [is] displayed in the oldest Holocaust museum in the United States, founded by Holocaust survivors,” said Jarosław Łasiński, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles.

Thanks to the publication of Ładoś List, the rescue operation of Polish diplomats in Switzerland has become the subject of international discussion, involving Holocaust survivors and their descendants, families of the diplomats involved in the operation, as well as scholars, journalists, and cultural figures. Families of survivors from all over the world, who discover the fate of their loved ones for the first time, come to the Pilecki Institute and share their stories, photos, and documents. That allows the research to continue and the list to be constantly updated with new names.

As of 2021, the Ładoś List is available online with a full-text search function. (http://passportsforlife.pl/).

The year 2021 was designated as the Year of the Ładoś Group by a resolution of the Polish parliament. The exhibition at the Holocaust Museum LA marks the closing of the international tour of the Passports for Life exhibition, which in 2021 visited Lithuania, Latvia, and the Czech Republic, among other countries.


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