April 5, 2018

Julius Kühl

Polish Consular Clerk in Bern, Switzerland, 1940-45

Although starting his diplomatic career as an expert on humanitarian help for Polish refugees in Switzerland, Julius Kühl – born into a Chassidic family in Sanok (south-eastern Poland) – soon rose to a position of top aide in Jewish issues to the Polish Envoy Aleksander Ładoś. Having close links to almost all relevant Jewish organizations in Switzerland – ‘from A’ (like Agudath Israel) ‘to Z‘ (like the Zionist Movement), as well as circles of the influential Sternbuch family, Kühl was instrumental in establishing a close cooperation between Polish Legation and Swiss-based members of the Jewish diaspora. This cooperation enabled, inter alia, Sternbuch family to contact the diplomats working for the London-based Polish government-in-exile and they allowed them to use Polish coded cables and send reports on the ongoing Holocaust to the United States.

Since 1942, as a deputy head of the Consular Section at the Polish Legation (headed by Konstanty Rokicki) he played a crucial role in the scheme aimed at bribing consuls of South American countries accredited in Bern and obtaining from them blank passports samples. These documents were therefore filled out by Rokicki in the Polish Consulate with the names and personal details of the ghetto-incarcerated Jews. Their copies were subsequently smuggled to German-occupied Poland (mostly through a networks organized by a Zurich Rebbe, Chaim Eiss or the RELICO Committee, headed by Abraham Silberschein who both received all necessary data), where they were able to rescue their recipients from immediate deportation to the Nazi death camps. Kühl was tasked with transferring the money to the Latin American consuls, picking-up the passports samples as well as having them delivered back for a certification.

It is believed that this forgery (of mainly Paraguayan passports) contributed to saving lives of several hundred of Polish, Dutch and Slovak Jews. This action, carried alongside Konstanty Rokicki, enjoyed full protection of the head of Polish Legation, Aleksander Ładoś and his deputy, Stefan Ryniewicz. After the War Julius Kühl decided to emigrate to Canada where he lived as a successful businessman and respected member of the Jewish community.


The Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland