Stanisław Dygat

The Polish consul identified as Stanisław Dygat

I went to the Hoover Institution Archive on campus at Stanford University yesterday. Quite an experience--just finding it, getting registered, learning the procedures, and then finally being able to open these boxes of incredible original documents. Letters, telegrams, reports, budgets. These were records of the Polish consulate in Toulouse (Tuluzie) from 1940. One batch of mainly budget memos and reports, listing employee names and salaries. Another batch of letters and telegrams relating to the closure of the consulate in September of that year, including accounts of the critical events in June and July. 

Polish uses a lot of weird characters with unfamiliar diacritical marks, but it turns out to be basically a Latin language. I was able to enter unaccented characters into Google Translate on my iPad and get pretty decent results in English. So in a few hours, I was able to review four file folders of documents, pick out particular items of interest, and photograph them with the iPad. This will allow me to undertake a partial translation of key documents beginning today. 

The most exciting result is that I now know the name of the Polish consul who issued Elly Ringel a passport on July 5, 1940—and he turns out to be really interesting. His name is Stanisław Dygat. He became quite famous as a novelist and screenwriter in postwar Poland. His first novel, Bodensee (Lake Constance), published in 1946, about a German internment camp, might contain further clues for us. It was also a movie. Also, Magda Dygat wrote a memoir about her father. All in Polish of course. 

There are several lengthy letters by him from July and August, including one of seven handwritten pages, which is going to be tough to translate. One thing that is not in the file is a listing of passport recipients. I didn't see any specific reference to a Ringel family. 

I'm set up with a three-month registration at the archive and can return for a follow up visit any time. Right now, I have plenty of work I can do with the document photos but likely will want to go back in a few weeks for a deeper dive. 

Stanisław Dygat defends his actions

This next translation tells Stanisław Dygat's side of the story as to why he departed from Toulouse on June 20 and why he didn't return there after receiving instructions to do so. It is addressed to the Polish ambassador to Spain at the embassy in Madrid. It has no date or post location, but it refers to events and locations up to Lisbon on July 18. I also have a six-page handwritten letter from Dygat, not yet translated, that is dated August 1 from Capvern back in France, not very far from Toulouse, where he may be in custody at an internment camp. There is still more to learn.

From Dygat
To Minister Szumlakowskiego in Madrid

In view of the allegations that (1) I unnecessarily left Toulouse, and (2) I delayed the execution of an order to return to base, I have the honor to state the following.

Regarding point 1, on June 16 I received a telegram from the Embassy of the Republic of Poland France recommending burning the Consulate archives, payment of 3 months salary to Consulate staff, and that I should depart for Bordeaux with three officials.

On the same day I received a telephone message from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bordeaux confirming the order to burn the archives. On the occasion of this telegram Mr. Deputy Prime Minister Gralinskiemu wrote that the Toulouse Consulate should communicate regularly by phone with Mr. Minister Frankowski in Bordeaux. However I could not speak directly with Mr. Frankowski but only to the agent of honor in Bordeaux, who repeated to me the order of the Minister that I should wrap Consulate operations and leave.

On the night of 19 June, I received a telephone message from Libourne given by a Colonel (whose name I can not remember) recommending me to leave the minimum Consulate officials and evacuate towards Bayonne. In this state of things, and to the panic which swept all in Toulouse (colleagues can witness this as Consul General Kolankowski, Consul Sidorowiczi and others slept that night in Toulouse), I decided to entrust the care of the Consulate to Mr. Wozniak, accountant and passport clerk, and Mr. Jankowski, the Secretaries-General of the Union of Polish Settlers, and to leave on July 20 in the afternoon.

In Bayonne on July 21, I found out there a mood of panic and incredible chaos so I decided to go further. On the way I found many Poles going to St Jean de Luz, seeking ships to Hendaye or directly to Spain. There was also mention that the Polish military had announced to head for the port, and thus set off to England. The fact that there was such a possibility no one told me previously.

In San Sebastian, I checked by telephone to the Minister Szumlakowskiego crossed the border, I received instructions from him would be guided as soon as possibly to Portugal.

Regarding point 2, my passport was taken by Portuguese police at the border in Vilar Formoso, when I arrived on June 23, and was refused entry to continue to Lisbon but was sent to the village of Figueira da Foz. On June 28, I wrote letters from Figueira Mr Dubicze and Mr Szumlakowskiego. In these letters I mentioned the possibility of my return to Toulouse.

It was not until July 7 that I received a copy of the letter of 5 July, via one of the Poles who came from Lisbon to Figueira, orders to return to their base to Toulouse. In order to do so, I asked in writing for permission to come to the Republic of Poland legation in Lisbon to obtain a new passport.

On July 12, the police in Figueira allowed me to leave for Lisbon, but my passport was not yet issued. This happened on the evening of July 16. Visa formalities lasted two whole days. I left Lisbon on July 18, as soon as I received the necessary Spanish visa.

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