Bernardo Rolland, Consul General of Spain in Paris since 1939, distinguished himself for defending the Jewish people, and occasionally confronting his ambassador, Jose Félix de Lequerica, who wasn’t willing to excessively contradict the pro-nazi government of Vichy and the Germans. After Vichy adopted the ”Statut des Juifs” (which distinguished the Jews from the rest of the population), imposing them all kind of restrictions, Rolland concentrated his efforts in avoiding the confiscation of their goods.
In august 1941, Rolland made an active intervention in favor of 14 Sephardic Jews that had been arrested and sent to the concentration camp of Drancy. By the same date, Rolland assumed a risky initiative documented in a German Memo dated September 14th. He appealed to the German authorities of Paris, proposing the transfer of 2000 Jews (included the ones in Drancy) to the Spanish Morocco in the term of a few weeks. After that, though without much success, he tried to ease the exit of the Jews from France, while continuing with his denouncements against persecutions which were more severe every time.
In 1942, Rolland’s measures succeeded. It was impossible for the authorities of Vichy to confiscate the Jewish people’s patrimony
In September 1943 and despite the German’s pressures, the Spanish government started the evacuation of French citizens from the coast of Cadiz, Algeciras and Malaga. Even when Rolland finished his term in Paris by the middle of 1943, it is certain that his efforts in favor of the Jewish people contributed decisively in making these evacuations possible.
Translation: Lara Schujovitzky