This is the East German Diplomatic Passport of Erich Mielke (December 28, 1907 – May 21, 2000), a German Communist politician and Minister of State Security of the German Democratic Republic from 1957 to 1989. A hard-line Stalinist, he spent several years in the Soviet Union. Mielke held the military rank of four-star Army General. In 1993, he was convicted of the murders of police officers Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck in 1931. The passport and other items from Mielke’s property, including his wife’s passport, were sold by a collector in the summer of 2004. The final result is unknown. However, the passports of East Germany are very interesting, especially the early years, which are nowadays hard to find. Luckily I have a comprehensive collection of East German travel documents, including another diplomatic passport of another important party figure – Guenther Mittag. Diplomatic GDR Passport Mielke
Erich Mielke, Powerful Head of Stasi, East Germany’s Vast Spy Network, Dies at 92 Diplomatic GDR Passport Mielke
Erich Mielke, the former head of the dreaded East German security agency known as the Stasi, has died at 92, German officials said yesterday. He died May 21 in a home for the elderly in his native Berlin. From 1957 until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the Stasi wielded enormous power, making Mielke the most influential person in East Germany after the Communist Party leader, Erich Honecker. Diplomatic GDR Passport Mielke
Born into poverty in pre-WWI in Berlin, Mielke joined the Communist youth movement at age 15, and his career epitomized the grimness of Communist rule in East Germany, where assassination, kidnapping, execution, denunciation, and intimidation were used to achieve and maintain power under the long, menacing shadow of the Soviet Union.
Mielke and the ministry for state security kept the 16.5 million people of East Germany obedient to Communism and repressed dissent for more than 30 years. Not only did the ministry pursue an effective campaign against those it regarded as enemies of the state, but its army of 90,000 agents and 260,000 informers finally turned East Germany into a country that spied on itself.
Continue reading the main story in the New York Times. Diplomatic GDR Passport Mielke
FAQ Passport History pasaporte passeport паспорт 护照 パスポート جواز سفر पासपोर्ट
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?
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 😉
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...
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