Ernst Munzinger Passport – Member of the 20 July Plot
The following passport is of the utmost importance in German history as its bearer was a conspirator in the German Resistance and a member of the 20 July plot against Hitler. Not often, a collector has the chance to get in possession of such a document, and when you get such a possibility, you don’t think twice – you grab it! This document is another highlight of my German collection. I am delighted to have it.
Ernst Munzinger (July 06, 1887 – April 22/23, 1945), Businessman and Lieutenant colonel). After the First World War, Ernst Munzinger supported the growing National Socialist movement in his home country, Latvia. In 1933 the Latvian government expelled him from the country, and he spent the following years in Berlin. At the beginning of the Second World War, Munzinger was drafted to counterintelligence under Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, where he contacted the group around Hans Oster and Hans von Dohnanyi. After the unsuccessful assassination attempt of July 20, 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo and held in Lehrter Straße Prison in Berlin. On the night of April 22-23, 1945, just a few hours before his release, a special detachment from the Reich Security Main Office murdered him with other prisoners on factory grounds near the prison.
Munzinger, the son of a brewer, wanted to be after the end of his school career journalist. He emigrated to his father’s wishes in 1883 from Zweibrücken (Germany) to Riga (Latvia). He began studying law at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. In 1910 he became a member of the Corps Isaria. He broke off his studies, enlisted in the Bavarian Army, and served with the Royal Bavarian Infantry Regiment “Prince William of Hohenzollern,” No. 22 in Zweibrücken. After the First World War outbreak, the Munzigers family was expelled from the Russian Empire and moved to Berlin. Munzinger was initially on the Western Front and later used as an intelligence officer on the Eastern Front. Munzinger reached the rank of captain and was awarded two Iron Crosses.
After the war, he went back to Riga together with his father (this passport was issued in Riga in 1921). Munzinger married in 1920. The marriage produced a daughter. Munzinger built a chemical factory in Riga after completing commercial training. After the takeover by the Nazis in the German Empire, he was expelled because he openly sympathized with National Socialism. Munziger moved with his family in 1933 to Berlin, where he led with his brother-in-law, the Department of Clothing and Textiles. After the Kristallnacht, Munzinger averts from National Socialism because of the riots against Jews.
During the Second World War, Munziger was at the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) and worked as an intelligence officer, where he was assigned to the defense under Wilhelm Canaris. Munzinger came later in contact with the resistance group led by Hans von Dohnanyi, Hans Oster. The rank of lieutenant colonel in the spring of 1944 ended his service in the Wehrmacht, and Munzinger returned to civilian life. Munzinger was already at that time informed about the planned assassination of the 20th in July 1944. Its role in the preparations is unknown. Ernst Munzinger Passport – Member of the 20 July Plot
After the failure of the assassination on 20 July 1944, Munzinger was arrested by members of the SS in Salzburg and sent to the prison cells Lehrterstrasse in Berlin. During the Battle of Berlin, Munzinger was shot together with 14 other Resistance fighters on the night of the 23rd April 1945 by Gestapo members at nearby factory premises in the Invalidenstrasse. His body was buried in a mass grave in Alt-Moabit but later transferred to the St. Paul’s Cemetery in Berlin-Plötzensee. Ernst Munzinger Passport – Member of the 20 July Plot
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?
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.
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