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Documents reveal Canadian citizen Julius Kuhl as Holocaust hero

'He should be as well known as Schindler'

He lived for decades in relative anonymity in Toronto, where he ran a construction company. But documents shared with The Globe show that Julius Kuhl – who died in 1985 – should have been one of Canada’s most celebrated citizens, a hero of the Holocaust who saved hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives.

Described by his family as a short, devout and gregarious man who was constantly puffing on a cigar, Mr. Kuhl was a low-level diplomat at the Polish legation in Bern, the Swiss capital, during the Second World War. He was also the centre of a network that manufactured fake Latin American passports that were then smuggled into Nazi-occupied Europe.

Personal letters, diplomatic cables and Swiss police records show that, starting in 1941, Mr. Kuhl acquired thousands of blank passports from the consuls of Paraguay and other South and Central American countries in Switzerland. He and a colleague then entered by hand the names and dates of birth of European Jews – including many who were trapped inside the Warsaw Ghetto – before pasting in their black-and-white photos.

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