French passport issued in Spain during the Civil War

Passport Spain Civil War
The Spanish Civil War, fought from 1936 to 1939, pitted the Republicans, loyal to the democratic Second Spanish Republic, against the Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco. While commonly depicted as a struggle between democracy and fascism, there are lesser-known facets that provide deeper insights into this ideologically charged conflict. This article reveals intriguing aspects of the war, including France’s complex support, the rebels’ expectations, severe Republican infighting, widespread atrocities, international volunteers, corporate involvement, and the presence of renowned writers and artists.

France’s Complex Support

– France’s leftist government, fearing internal strife, refrained from direct support to the Republicans, but sympathized with their cause.
– French Prime Minister Léon Blum worried about the creation of a pro-German and pro-Italian state if the Nationalists were to triumph, encircling France.
– Covertly, France provided aircraft, pilots, and engineers to the Republicans despite signing the Non-Intervention Agreement in 1936.

Rebels’ Unrealistic Expectations Passport Spain Civil War

– Rebel officers, conspiring against the government, planned a swift coup d’état. Their uprising began on July 18, 1936, in Spanish Morocco, with the expectation of a quick victory.
– However, the Republican government retained two-thirds of Spain, including major cities, and civil war erupted.
– Franco transported his troops from Morocco to the mainland using support from Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, gradually advancing toward Madrid.

Severe Infighting among Republicans

– Unlike the united Nationalist front, the Republican factions were plagued by internal conflicts.
– In May 1937, a civil war within the civil war erupted in Barcelona, pitting anarchists and anti-Stalin Marxists against Soviet-backed communists and the regional government.
– Communist control increased, suppressing anarchist and anti-Stalin Marxist organizations and extinguishing the revolutionary spirit in Barcelona.

Atrocities Committed by Both Sides Passport Spain Civil War

– Franco’s Nationalist troops initiated a campaign of terror, killing and torturing perceived opponents.
– Massacres with tacit approval from Nationalist leaders, such as General Mola, occurred in places like Badajoz, Málaga, and Toledo.
– Republicans also committed atrocities, including the slaying of Catholic priests, monks, and nuns, as well as mass executions of alleged fascists.

International Volunteers

– Despite U.S. neutrality, around 2,800 Americans volunteered for the Republican cause, forming the Abraham Lincoln Battalion.
– The volunteers, including diverse individuals like an acrobat and a rabbi, suffered heavy casualties due to ill-advised charges.
– Approximately 40,000 international volunteers from various countries also fought alongside the Republicans, experiencing high casualty rates.

Corporate Involvement

– Texaco’s CEO, Torkild Rieber, supported Franco by illegally selling discounted oil to the Nationalists and transporting it in Texaco tankers.
– Rieber’s network helped identify Republican-bound oil shipments, leaving them vulnerable to attack.
– Texaco received only a minor fine for these violations of U.S. neutrality acts.

Presence of Renowned Writers and Artists Passport Spain Civil War

– Despite the risks, many writers and artists covered the Spanish Civil War.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of “The Little Prince,” flew his own plane to report on the conflict, while George Orwell served with a Republican militia.
– The poet Federico García Lorca was assassinated by Nationalist forces.
– Literary figures like Ernest Hemingway and Langston Hughes also had connections to the war.


France’s nuanced support, the rebels’ misguided expectations, severe Republican infighting, and the atrocities committed by both sides contribute to a deeper understanding of the war’s dynamics. The presence of international volunteers, including Americans, showcases the global impact of the conflict. Furthermore, corporate involvement, exemplified by Texaco’s CEO Torkild Rieber, highlights the complex web of interests surrounding the war. Finally, the involvement of renowned writers and artists demonstrates the profound impact of the conflict on artistic expression. Exploring these lesser-known facets enriches our comprehension of the Spanish Civil War and its enduring legacy.

The Passport

Issued for a woman 1937 in Spanish San Sebastian and several times extended until 1943 with two visa special France-Spain. During the civil war international passports were usually NOT valid for Spain! Passport Spain Civil War



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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.

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