“I have the passport of a Baroness of Germany when they were fleeing Germany. She gave it to me in NYC. Is it valuable?” readers question most interesting

That was the message from a reader, one of the many messages I get via my website each month. I always answer and asked for more details. The next email included five pictures of the passport, but I didn’t find much at first about Baroness Wilhelmine von Godin. But then, Carlos, so the name of the reader, told me more details as he had met the baroness in person and she gifted him her old German passport.

And Carlos told further…“She was a very colorful lady when I met her. She showed me pictures of the Kaiser in his car, also when Lindbergh went to Berlin after his flight. She was destitute when she died. I used to bring her breakfast and lunch from my pocket. When she told me she was a Baroness, I thought she was crazy. In the end, she gave me her passport, a picture of Lindbergh, and a piece of tapestry from 1200 for my kindness. As you can see, she was a notable lady in my eyes.”

German passport New York 1939
Her passport was issued at the German consulate in NY on 21 April 1939 and was valid until 20 April 1944.

“As I remember, I was a Junior in college, it could be 1974 or 1975 when she gave me her passport. I worked as a clerk at the Gracie Square Hotel in 86 st. 1st ave. in Manhattan, the place where she lived. I heard she fell out of bed and broke her hip. She was placed in a city Hospice, 4 weeks later she died. I believe it was 1975 or 76.” readers question most interesting

Baroness Godin made her career in America, it seems as The New Yorker reported on May 13, 1939…

Baroness von Godin
Baroness Wilhelmine von Godin, a seasoned expert on tapestry, spent two years restoring the set before seven panels returned to the apse for the dedication of the nave in 1941.
The Crucifixion
The Crucifixion from ‘Scenes from the Life of Christ’ (1647–48), Rome, series designed by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli. Cathedral of St John the Divine New York

Baroness Wilhelmine von Godin who is a specialist in restoring tapestries. “The Crucifixion,” by Berberini, which has been hung over the new altar in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine was restored by the Baroness. Her biggest job so far has been the restoration of “the Hunt of the Unicorn,” the set of six tapestries that were hung in the Cloisters last May. There are considered the finest in existence, & is supposed to have cost Rockefeller $1,100,000. The hardest part of restoring tapestries is getting the wool dyed. The weaving is nothing to her. Some of the dye formulas she uses have been handed down in her family from a 17th-century ancestor who was a master-weaver in Hanau. The Baroness was brought up in Munich.

Read also here more details about her work in the chapter Mid-20th Century. https://www.stjohndivine.org/art/cathedral-tapestries/

I love to get reader’s emails and requests as they are always most curious and in most cases, I can support their requests. This story of Carlos Barreda Thompson is touching and shows us what fantastic stories old passports can reveal. Thank you for sharing, Carlos. And to answer your question about the collector’s value, I would estimate about $80 for this document.

readers question most interesting