This East-German passport was issued on 23 November 1989, just a few days after the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. german passport Karl-Marx Stadt
This passport is fascinating on multiple levels. First, it keenly portrays the passport holder’s desire to travel for tourism purposes following the Warsaw Pact’s end to strict travel restrictions and the resumption of unmitigated travel throughout Europe. This man, who probably had a strong desire to visit the Mediterannean and its historical sights, journeyed from his residence in Karl-Marx Stadt (presently Chemnitz) all the way to East-Berlin (a 3-hour drive) to obtain two visas for his travels: one from the Turkish embassy and the other from the Yugoslav embassy. german passport Karl-Marx Stadt
Interestingly, we can follow his travels from the many border stamps he obtained en route in this case. We can also know his vehicle’s make and license plate: a Volkswagen with license plate number XY3041. This information has been annotated in his passport at two border stops. His travels have taken him from East Germany to Turkey via Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Greece. This is a fascinating example of post-Berlin Wall tourism. german passport Karl-Marx Stadt
Secondly, this passport is also fascinating because it was issued in Karl-Marx Stadt, a city that would vote by popular referendum on 23 April 1990 to change its name back to Chemnitz, its pre-1953 name. The decision to revert to the city’s former name was approved by 76% of the voters. On 1 June 1990, Karl-Marx Stadt was officially renamed, Chemnitz. This passport issued in 1989 when the city was still named Karl-Marx Stadt clearly mentions the city’s name change on an official stamp dated 11 December 1990 on page 7. This is a remarkable example of borders and countries dynamically changing their historical realities during a concise period of time. german passport Karl-Marx Stadt
A contribution from fellow collector Matt. L.
FAQ Passport History
Passport collection, passport renewal, old passports for sale, vintage passport, emergency passport renewal, same day passport, passport application, 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...