Warsaw – Polski Hotel

This was a hotel in Warsaw that in 1943 became a place of detention for Jews holding passports of neutral states, especially south american ones. Holders of neutral states passports was in comparison to other Jews safer. They did not risk being forced into labor camps and did not risk being subjected to the same violent treatment by the Germans and their collaborators. This fact attracted the interest of Swiss jewish organizations that Jews with passports of neutral states might be able to emigrate. Therefore, the consulates of several neutral states without official permission of their governments began to issue passports or other documents that ”strengthened” the nationality of the holder. The documents were later sold by (Jewish) profiteers for shameless sums and therefore few could afford them. Some susptected the passports was a trap to lure them out of their hiding and hesitated.

But in the summer of 1942, deportations towards extermination camps began. Jews who uptil then had hesitated bying passports thought it was worth the risk. Holders of neutral states passports were taken to hotel Polski. From there about 250 were sent to Vittel collection camp in France, and about 2500 were sent to Bergen-Belsen in Germany. From there it was believed that the Jews could travel further to their ”home countries”. But the Germans suspected that something was wrong and had the passports checked. For instance, by contacting the states in which the passports were issued. However, since the passports were issued without permission, the South American states indicated that the passports were invalid and thus did not allow the holder to enter. Only British Palestine allowed document holders to enter Palestine in exchange for Germans who were trapped in Palestine. About 50 Jews from the camp in Vittel and about 350 Jews from Bergen-Belsen survived. The others were sent to Auschwitz in 1943 and 1944, where they were murdered.

Current status: Preserved with memorial tablet (2013).

Address: Dluga 29, 00-241, Warszawa.

Get there: Tram.

My comment:

It is still debated whether it was a trap staged by the Germans to lure wealthy Jews out of their hiding places, and certainly the Germans knew what was going on. What speaks against German knowledge is the fact that they allowed so many Jews to go to Vittel and Bergen-Belsen. If it had been a trap, it would have been enough to lure them to Polski hotels and from there deport them to a extermination camp instead of west. All bureaucratic work to investigate the authenticity and validity of the documents and the fact that about 400 Jews were actually allowed to leave the country indicates that it was not a trap. But on the other hand, the last group of 420 Jews were sent from the hotel to Pawiak prison in Warsaw, where they were murdered.

Follow up in books: Person, Katarzyna: Warsaw Ghetto Police: The Jewish Order Service during the Nazi Occupation (2021).