Extremely Rare Heligoland Passport 1873

Franz Schensky Extremely Rare Heligoland Passport

Franz Schensky’s legacy as a renowned photographer from Helgoland continues to captivate audiences even decades after his death in 1957. The recent TV documentary I watched sheds light on his remarkable contributions, rekindling interest in his artistic journey. Born in 1871, Schensky emerged as a pioneer of black and white photography during the turn of the 20th century.

His mastery of the craft, coupled with an intuitive sense for capturing poignant moments, established Schensky as an internationally significant photographer. His focus on Helgoland, the island he called home, showcased his deep connection with the landscape. Schensky’s portrayal of the island and its surrounding elements, particularly the North Sea, reflected a unique blend of technical skill and artistic vision.

A global Icon Extremely Rare Heligoland Passport

The documentary likely highlighted Schensky’s role in making Helgoland a global icon through his evocative pictorial documents. His work showcased the island’s natural beauty and conveyed a profound understanding of its essence. The element of the “lake” and the island itself came to life through Schensky’s lens, earning Helgoland international acclaim.

Schensky’s lens captured not just the extraordinary but also events and facts, intertwining autobiography with history. His photos reveal Helgoland’s journey, documenting the island’s transformation from the handover in 1890 to the devastation of World War II and the subsequent reconstruction in 1952. Through his unique perspective, Schensky’s images serve as both confirmation and inquiry into the island’s past.. Extremely Rare Heligoland Passport

Heligoland Passport

I learned a lot about the island, which I never visited (and I am German) but would really love to do so one day. Then I remembered a conversation I had with a collector of Heligoland revenues and his brother has a super rare Heligoland passport which he allowed me to display here.

Heligoland: Pals-Port. 1873, Jean Paul Hilbert, a British Subject native of Heligoland, going aboard as a Sailor. Image supplied by M.H.

For your clarification, nowadays, the island is German and is called HELGOLAND, but the island was British from 1807 to 1890 and was called HELIGOLAND. Until 1714 ownership switched several times between Denmark and the Duchy of Schleswig, with one period of control by Hamburg. In August 1714, it was captured by Denmark, and it remained Danish until 1807.

British Annexation Extremely Rare Heligoland Passport

On 11 September 1807, during the Napoleonic WarsHMS Carrier brought to the Admiralty the dispatches from Admiral Thomas Macnamara Russell announcing Heligoland’s capitulation to the British. Heligoland became a center of smuggling and espionage against Napoleon. Denmark then ceded Heligoland to George III of the United Kingdom by the Treaty of Kiel (14 January 1814). Thousands of Germans came to Britain and joined the King’s German Legion via Heligoland.

The British annexation of Heligoland was ratified by the Treaty of Paris signed on 30 May 1814, as part of a number of territorial reallocation’s following on the abdication of Napoleon as Emperor of the French.

The prime reason at the time for Britain’s retention of a small and seemingly worthless acquisition was to restrict any future French naval aggression against the Scandinavian or German states. In the event, no effort was made during the period of British administration to make use of the islands for naval purposes, partly for financial reasons but principally because the Royal Navy considered Heligoland to be too exposed as a forward basis. Extremely Rare Heligoland Passport

Seaside Spa

In 1826, Heligoland became a seaside spa, and soon it turned into a popular tourist resort for the European upper-class. The island attracted artists and writers, especially from Germany and Austria, who apparently enjoyed the comparatively liberal atmosphere, including Heinrich Heine and August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben. More vitally, it was a refuge for revolutionaries of the 1830s and the 1848 German revolution.

Heligoland becomes Helgoland

Britain gave up the islands to Germany in 1890 in the Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty. The unified Germany, wary of foreign control, traded for Heligoland, securing strategic dominance over the Kiel Canal. Heligolanders retained advantages through a grandfathering approach despite the change in status.

During the German Empire, the islands served as a key naval base. In World War I, civilians evacuated. The Battle of Heligoland Bight marked the war’s initial naval clash. The Islanders returned in 1918, but the Nazi era saw the reactivation of the naval base. The Nazi labor camp Lager Helgoland on Alderney took its name from the island.

Battle of Heligoland Extremely Rare Heligoland Passport

The area was the setting of the aerial Battle of the Heligoland Bight in 1939, a result of British bombing attempts on German Navy vessels in that area. The area’s waters were frequently mined by British aircraft.

Heligoland also had a military function as a sea fortress in the Second World War. The submarine bunker North Sea III and coastal artillery are completed military installations on Helgoland. Extensive bunker tunnels house air-raid shelters, and an airfield hosted the air force – Jagdstaffel Helgoland from April to October 1943. The construction of these installations during World War II involved forced labor, including citizens from the Soviet Union.

On 3 December 1939, Heligoland was bombed by the Allies for the first time. The attack, by twenty-four Wellington bombers of RAF Squadrons 38, 115 and 149, failed to destroy its target of German warships at anchor.

Within three days in early 1940, the Royal Navy lost three submarines in Heligoland: HMS Undine (N48) on 6 January, HMS Seahorse (98S) on 7 January and HMS Starfish on 9 January.

Georg Braun and Erich Friedrichs

Shortly before the war ended in 1945, Georg Braun and Erich Friedrichs succeeded in forming a resistance group. Just before executing their plans, two group members betrayed them. On April 18, 1945, authorities arrested around twenty men, transporting fourteen to Cuxhaven. Following a brief trial, a firing squad executed five resisters at Cuxhaven-Sahlenburg on April 21, 1945.

With two waves of attacks on 18 and 19 April 1945, 1,000 aircraft of the British Royal Air Force dropped about 7,000 bombs. The majority of the population survived in the bomb shelters. 285 people were killed, including many Luftwaffenhelfer and naval auxiliaries. 128 of the casualties were anti-aircraft crew. The bomb attacks rendered the island uninhabitable, and it was evacuated.

Bombing Range Extremely Rare Heligoland Passport

From 1945 to 1952 the uninhabited Heligoland islands were used as a bombing range. On 18 April 1947, the Royal Navy detonated 6,700 tonnes of explosives (“Big Bang” or “British Bang”), creating one of the biggest single non-nuclear detonations in history. The attack targeted fortifications but accepted the island’s total destruction. The blow reshaped the main island, creating the Mittelland.

Student Occupation Extremely Rare Heligoland Passport

On 20 December 1950, two students and a professor from Heidelberg – René Leudesdorff, Georg von Hatzfeld and Hubertus zu Löwenstein – occupied the off-limits island and raised various German, European and local flags. The students were arrested by the British military and brought back to the mainland. The event started a movement to restore the islands to Germany, which gained the support of the German parliament. On 1 March 1952, Heligoland was returned to German control, and the former inhabitants were allowed to return. The first of March is an official holiday on the island. The German authorities had to clear a huge amount of undetonated ammunition, landscape the main island, and rebuild the houses before it could be resettled.

I was in contact with the Helgoland museum, asking if they have passports in their archive – but they have not. They told me since 1890, passports were never issued at the island but on the mainland. I never saw any passport with e.g. place of birth: Helgoland. There is an excellent German online source called “HELGOLAND-GENEALOGY”, established by Captain Erich Nummel-Krüss (probably related to German writer James Krüss). The site includes a death register of its citizens from 1764-1822, which might be an important source for your Genealogy research.

If you find a Helgoland passport or a German one with Helgoland birthplace, kindly reach out to me!

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...