This Travel Document is one of the most interesting collectible I ever got. Here is the story of this life saving document with a visa issued by righteous diplomat Chinue “Sempo” Sugihara.
The document which is a Certificate (Zaswiadczenie) printed by the Polish Legation in Kaunas / Lithuania was issued by British Legation, section Polish interests in Lithuania, Legation stamp (HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY LEGATION LITHUANIA), signed by Chargé des Affaires de Sa Majesté Britannique – Chargé des interests Polonais en Lithuanie. Issued 30th November 1938. The Polish document header is crossed out. Two passport photos, man & woman, 3 stamps with Polish coat of arms. Sugihara visa on back. Language Polish and French.
The document was issued to LAPIDUS Benno and LAPIDUS Berta, personal description of both. The family name LAPIDUS was not found in the Sugihara database! After the document was scanned I tried different light and color spectrum with my software, then it was clear that the document was ALTERED!
Color temperature adjusted
These techniques could reveal the original bearer and name on the document which is SIELMANN DAVID. His name can be found in the Sugihara database!
However there is one day difference between the stamped Sugihara visa on the document compared to the database entry. On the document SIELMANN is written with two “N” while in the database SIELMAN has only one “N”. I have seen a few times that names are misspelled e.g. due to the Jewish writing and it’s also possible that the visa date was wrongly entered by one day when the original visa list was made.
There is no doubt that the document was altered!
Did SIELMANN give away his document to safe TWO lives instead of ONE? Did SIELMANN past away and the LAPIDUS couple saw their chance to escape with his document? Imagine your life is in immediate threat what would you do?
By my best knowledge and experience I conclude that this document is a genuine document from the time of issue but was altered for a different personal use. I believe the alternation was made after Sugihara issued the visa. I do not see an evidence for a modern alternation which also would not make sense. During these times such a visa was indeed a “VISA FOR LIFE” – in this case even for TWO LIVES and must have been used at any cost & risk!