Toulouse

Portuguese consul Emile Gissot

I somehow overlooked a very interesting comment on the blog from early in January. A staffer at the Aristedes de Sousa Mendes Foundation had seen our Ringel escape route postings and wanted to know if the signature on the Portuguese visa in Elly's passport matched any of several other names besides Sousa Mendes. On her list was the name of Emile Gissot, and indeed as you can see from the closeup here, that's who signed off on granting a transit visa to Portugal to our family members in Toulouse on July 11, 1940.

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.

Report on the refugee crisis at the Polish consulate

Here is my first translation of a document from the Hoover Institution archive of Polish foreign ministry documents. It is written on August 2, 1940, just after the height of the refugee crisis, by the acting head of the consulate, Vaclav Bitner, who has stepped in to help restore order in the wake of the premature departure of the former vice consul Stanisław Dygat. The extraordinary events of the previous six weeks break through the officialese of the report

Toulouse, August 2, 1940

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.

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