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


incl. FREE guideline!

FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...