November 17, 2022

A new and singular House of Life was proclaimed in Bern, Switzerland

The site currently serves as the Residence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Switzerland and during WWII it was the center of a major rescue operation led by Ambassador Aleksander Lados.

The House of Life Plaque in display before being affixed to the building’s facade.


Bern – November 17, 2022 – A special event was held at the Residence of the Polish Ambassador in Bern. The historic building was officially recognized as a “House of Life” by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF).

More than 500 Houses of Life have been identified by the IRWF in the last years and in all cases these places provided physical shelter to the victims of the Nazi persecution. In this sense, the newly declared House of Life in Bern is unique as nobody was actually hidden there. However, it had been the hub of a major and well-orchestrated life-saving operation during the Shoah, under the coordination and leadership of the Polish diplomats stationed at the Legation of the Republic of Poland in Bern.

From this very site, a group of Polish diplomats, led by Ambassador Aleksander Lados, together with a group of Jewish activists, issued thousands of Latin American passports and citizen certificates for Jewish citizens of various European countries that were under Nazi occupation.

In addition, the Legation used a secret radio transmitter to divulge the ongoing mass murder of the European Jews.

The ceremony was hosted by HE Ambassador Iwona Kozlowska, who stressed that “The legacy of the Lados Group is a great source of pride and inspiration to us, Poles, but also a responsibility we take very seriously”….adding that “the ethos of diplomats who demonstrated such exemplary humanity in the most difficult times has particular importance nowadays, as Europe once again faces grave danger and armed conflict“.

The IRWF was represented by its VP Europe, Ms. Silvia Constantini who started her speech by conveying greetings from the IRWF Chairman, Mr. Eduardo Eurnekian and its Founder, Mr. Baruch Tenembaum.

HE Ambassador Iwona Kozlowska with IRWF Vice-President Sivlia Constantini

Silvia went on by explaining the goals of the Houses of Life program and ended her speech by saying that “The plaque that we will unveil at the end of the ceremony will remind all passersby that while the Holocaust was one of the darkest periods of humanity, many people struggled against this terrible evil and this rowing against evil, did make a difference”.

The President of the Republic of Poland, HE Andrzej Duda, sent a special message which was read aloud before the attending audience.

First Secretary Wojciech Jakobiec reading the letter from HE President Andrzej Duda.

Remarks were also conveyed by Ambassador Jakub Kumoch, State Secretary in the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland, who as former Ambassador of his country in Switzerland, played a key role in unveiling the remarkable feats of Ambassador Lados and his staff.

The other speakers were the Chairman of the International Committee of the Lados Group, Mr. Sebastian Lados, Holocaust survivor Mr. Uri Strauss and Mr. Moshe Rappaport, a descendant of illustrious rabbis and relative of the well-known Sternbuch family.

Among the guests there were about a dozen Holocaust survivors, Ambassadors of several countries, the President of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, Representatives of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva, Historians who were involved in the research of this case, family members of the Polish diplomats who participated in the rescue operation and former colleagues at the Embassy, who were also involved in the research.

The unveiling of the plaque was followed by a luncheon.

Ambassador Kozlowska with Mr. Moshe Rappaport, the person who unveiled the Lados Group feats