Involvement of the Polish consul

Involvement of the Polish consul

Till now, we have the Portuguese consul Gissot and the Dutch consul van Dobben as the active players in the Toulouse Curaçao case. Elly received visas from those two officials on July 11, 1940. But what about the Polish consulate, where her chain of documents began with the issuance of a passport from the Republic of Poland on July 5?

Elly had been preparing to apply for Polish papers for some time, perhaps since Berlin, since she took care to bring her husband Hermann's 1906 Polish domicile document with her on the journey. It is somewhat of a mystery why she had not already procured Polish papers by the time of their flight from Nice, but it is only in her last week or so there that she takes the trouble to have a notarized French translation made of the domicile document. Then, five weeks later, she has the opportunity to present that credential at the Polish consulate in Toulouse, at 72 rue de Strasbourg, just up the street from the Dutch consulate.

Based on Elly's case alone, we don't know if the Polish consul had any involvement with the Curaçao business. But then I found this testimonial from Zbigniew Kowalski, at the time a Free Polish fighter trying to make his way to England after the fall of France. Kowalski tells of managing to reach Marseilles, where there is a Polish legation, but finding a sign reading "Closed Until Victory."

The next nearest Polish consulate is in Toulouse, where Kowalski travels next. "At Toulouse the Polish legation was still open and its personnel found a place for us to stay. Soon we were supplied with passports and visa for Dutch Curaçao. It was cover of course, for as soon as we were out of Vichy waters we were to head for the United Kingdom," Kowalski says. After several more detours and detainments, Kowalski finally makes it to Britain and returns to help liberate France, but that's not the point of our story.

The point is that the Polish consulate in Toulouse was involved with Curaçao visas in a second instance. It is beginning to look like there is a third player in the Toulouse Curaçao operation. So far, I don't know the identity of the Pole. Elly's passport has a scribble for a signature over a stamp that may indicate a last name Wozniak. As with the Dutch consulate, there are physical archives of the Polish diplomatic files that could yield answers about who he was and the extent of his involvement.