Altered Sugihara Document Saves Jewish Lifes

This Travel Document is one of the most interesting collectibles I ever got. Here is the story of this life-saving document with a visa issued by righteous diplomat Chinue “Sempo” Sugihara. altered Sugihara document Jewish

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. altered Sugihara document Jewish

LAPIDUS Polish CertificatLAPIDUS_2

The document was issued to LAPIDUS Benno and LAPIDUS Berta, with personal descriptions of both. The family name LAPIDUS was not found in the Sugihara database! After the document was scanned I tried different light and color spectrums with my software, then it was clear that the document was ALTERED! altered Sugihara document Jewish

Lapidus_color temperaturColor temperature adjusted

Lapidus_Exchange colorsColors exchanged


These techniques could reveal the original bearer and name on the document, SIELMANN DAVID. His name can be found in the Sugihara database!


However, there is a one-day difference between the document’s stamped Sugihara visa 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. altered Sugihara document Jewish


Sugihara_visa list

CONCLUSION altered Sugihara document Jewish

There is no doubt that the document was altered! Did SIELMANN give away his document to save TWO lives instead of ONE? Did SIELMANN pass 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 different personal use. I believe the alternation was made after Sugihara issued the visa. I do not see 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! altered Sugihara document Jewish

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  1. This is fascinating… did you ever research what became of Sielmann and th Lapidus siblings? Did they manage to get out after all? Where did they end up?

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