GDR Diplomatic Passport Prof. Doernberg

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GDR Diplomatic Passport Doernberg

I was able to acquire several East German Diplomatic passports of Prof. Doernberg, a quite interesting person. Prof. Stefan Doernberg was not only an East German ambassador to Finnland, but as a young Russian officer, he eye-witnessed the signing of the German surrender on May 8th, 1945.

East German Passport Prof. Doernberg
Prof. Doernberg at age 85 in 2009 (Picture: Burkhard Lange)

Stefan Doernberg (21 June 1924 – 3 May 2010) was born the son of an official of the KPD. In 1935, he and his parents emigrated to the Soviet Union, where he attended the Karl Liebknecht School. In 1939, he joined the KJVD and received his Abitur in Moscow. On the day of Operation Barbarossa, he joined the Red Army. He was temporarily interned in a work camp in the Urals because of his German origins, but he returned from his stay there to the front after schooling in the Comintern. As a Lieutenant in the 8th Guards Army, he participated in Ukraine, Poland, and Berlin battles. In 1945 Doernberg returned to Germany. From 1946 to 1950, he worked with the Soviet military administration in Mecklenburg as a speaker and interpreter with General Mikhail Alexandrovich Skossyrev. From 1946 to 1950, he was an external political editor of the daily newspaper Rundschau. During this time, from 1947 to 1951, he graduated from the Lomonosov University in Moscow. From 1950 to 1955, he worked as an editor of the German edition of the magazine Sowjetliteratur. In 1955 he took over the Chair for General History at the Institute of Social Sciences at the Central Committee of the SED.

In 1959, he became involved in the struggle for the economic disempowerment of German imperialism in the area of the German Democratic Republic and its significance in the context of the antifascist-democratic revolution to Dr. Phil. Ph.D. GDR Diplomatic Passport Doernberg

From 1961 to 1971, Doernberg served as Director of the German Institute for Contemporary History (DIZ) in East Berlin. In 1963 he received a professorship for the history of German and international workers’ movements. He was the scientific secretary of the German section of the commission of the historians of the GDR and the USSR from 1957 to 1962, and from 1964 he was chairman of the GDR section of the research institutions of the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and the USSR on European security issues. In 1966 he was awarded the academic degree of a doctor of the historical sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (Dr. sc.). From 1971 to 1977, he served as deputy director of the Institute for International Politics and Economics in Berlin and from 1970 as secretary, general secretary, and vice-president of the GDR committee for European security. From 1977 to 1982, he was director of the Institute for International Relations at the Academy of Political Science and Law. GDR Diplomatic Passport Doernberg

From 1983 to 1987, Stefan Doernberg was an ambassador of the GDR in Finland. He was a member of the Peace Council of the GDR and a member of the SED. In 1964 he received the Order’s Order of Merit in bronze in 1966 in silver and in 1984 in gold. The GDR started a diplomatic relationship with Finland in 1973 and had since then only five ambassadors in Finland will the end of the GDR in 1990.

On May 3, 2010, shortly before his departure to Moscow, where he was to attend the celebrations celebrating the 65th anniversary of the victory over National Socialist Germany, Stefan Doernberg died in Berlin.

Doernberg in his own words on the historical event in May 1945
On May 8, 1945, I experienced in Berlin, as an eye-witness of the historic event, when the leadership of the OKW in Berlin-Karlshorst had to sign unconditionally surrender. As a German anti-fascist, who had participated in the last great battle of the War, in the rank of lieutenant in the 8th Army, I had been commissioned to take a sound recorder from the House of the Reichsdeutsche Rundfunks in the Masurenallee in Berlin West to the staff of Marshal Zhukov. We drove through the so terribly destroyed but already peaceful Berlin.

For me, the war had actually ended on May 2nd. On this day, I had typed the order from General Weidling for the first time on a typewriter and then read through a loudspeaker in different parts of the city. Thus, tens of thousands of German soldiers learned their commander’s instructions, which had been issued too late, that any further resistance would be pointless. Quite oddly, I found the reasoning of General Weidling. “The Fuehrer hath given himself up, and left us alone, whom we had sworn to him”.

I had experienced the war in front, although with a few interruptions, since 22 June 1941, the attack of Hitler’s Germany on the Soviet Union. From his authors, it was planned as the worst crime of the 20th century and then implemented perversely and brutally. I saw refugees and burned earth from Moscow and Stalingrad to Poland, then on German soil. Even worse was the sight of the extermination camp Majdanek, other concentration camps, and the ghetto of Lodz. Thus, the extended “German habitat” was to be for the European peoples, which was at most the fate of labor slaves of the large capital of the “Third Reich”. For this reason alone, I regarded the act of liberation of the anti-Hitler coalition, which had to be fought above all with so many victims of the peoples of the USSR, as the salvation of human civilization before the threatening fall into barbarism. GDR Diplomatic Passport Doernberg

The passport lot consists of three East German Diplomatic Passport Prof. Doernberg, one diplomatic of his wife, a CCCP passport of his wife, and an early 1960 East German passport. All documents are in excellent condition. A fantastic East German Diplomatic Passport set of a remarkable German personality who experienced so much in history. Happy to have these documents in my archive. GDR Diplomatic Passport Doernberg

East German Passport Prof. Doernberg

The red USSR passport was issued by the embassy of the USSR in the GDR and had two extensions till 1991 and till 1996. The blue GDR passport is from Doernberg’s mother, issued in 1960 with visas and travels to USSR and Western Europe (which was unusual, especially in 1961 when THE WALL was built). GDR Diplomatic Passport Doernberg

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...