Officials commemorate Polish-Jewish WWII hero

Polish officials and members of Switzerland’s Polish and Jewish minorities on Thursday honoured Abraham Silberschein, who saved hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust, at the site of his renovated grave near Geneva.

Poland’s ambassadors to the UN and Switzerland as well as representatives of Poland’s parliament were among those in attendance.

Silberschein, a Polish-Jewish lawyer and pre-war member of Poland’s parliament, was a member of the so-called Bernese Group.

The team of six Poles, both Jewish and gentile, from Bern organised fake Paraguayan, Peruvian, El Salvadoran, Haitian and Honduran passports for mainly Polish and Dutch Jews in 1942 and 1943.

Silberschein collected the data and photos of Jews to be rescued, while other members of the Bernese Group were involved in getting blank passports, possibly thanks to bribes, filling and stamping them and smuggling them to their new owners inside Jewish ghettos across Nazi-German occupied Europe.

In January 1944, Abraham Silberschein said that the Bernese Group saved some 10,000 people from mass transportations to German death camps.

Silberschein lived in Geneva after WWII until his death in 1951.

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