German Colonial Passport Of Kiautschou

This passport type issued by the German Empire Government of Kiautschou is one of the rarest documents when it comes to German passport history!

UPDATE: Passport 1 German Colonial Passport Kiautschou

This document was just sold on 5 March 2023 on eBay and fetched a price of 895 EUR! The seller had also listed a rare Qyng Dynasty passport from around 1910, issued to a German. That passport document even ended at 2292 EUR! A set of 69 original Chinese (Tsingtau) photographs also fetched a price of 604 EUR. A very successful sale from this seller. The Qing Dynasty passport is for now the most expensive vintage passport sold at eBay in 2023!

Below shown passport was issued according to the bearers description to a 24 year old Theodor Broecking, tall, dark-blonde hair, and grey-blue eyes. And with mustache. Passport photos were only introduced in 1915.

Theodor was a Prussian citizen and merchant. He traveled via Mukden, Harbin, Siberia and Russia to Germany. German Colonial Passport Kiautschou

The circumstances surrounding my display of this particular document shown below are rather unusual, adding to the allure of its rarity. It was through a chance encounter with a fellow collector that I learned of its existence, as he casually mentioned that he had parted ways with it. Intrigued, I pressed for further details and was promptly presented with stunning images of this exceptional passport, now in the possession of another collector whom I have known for years.

While I must admit to feeling a tinge of disappointment at not having secured this extraordinary item for myself, I cannot help but feel genuinely happy for my colleague and friend, who has added yet another remarkable piece to their already impressive collection of vintage passports. Heartfelt congratulations are certainly in order!

But before we come to the passport itself, here are some facts about this German Kiautschou Protectorate / Colony.

German Tsingtau History

The German Empire established a leasehold in the Bay of Kiautschou in the Chinese province of Shantung in 1898, adding an Asian colony to its African and Pacific territories. During the period before World War I, the German leased area at Kiautschou Bay had about 200,000 people, including 56,000 in the colonial city of Tsingtau, the majority of whom were indigenous Chinese.

The German population consisted mainly of merchants, administrative officials, teachers, missionaries, and soldiers, as the jurisdiction was not conceived as a colony of settlers. They primarily lived in the European quarter of Tsingtaus or the barracks. The aim and primary task of the local Germans were to develop the region into a self-sufficient business location, with everyone contributing through their work. The German governor and his administration were legally responsible for the population in the jurisdiction as a result of the lease agreement.

The Germans were generally satisfied with the turnover of goods in the port of Tsingtau, which had become the seventh-largest port in China by 1908, with direct links to Russia, Japan, and other Chinese cities. The operators of the Shantung railway were also satisfied with their company’s economic success, which doubled its freight transport performance between 1905 and 1911. German missionaries were an influential group among foreigners in the province of Shantung, alongside mainly British and American Protestant missions and Franciscans from Italy.

Despite the economic successes of Tsingtau, tensions between Germany and China would ultimately lead to the downfall of the German colony. In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, Japan seized the opportunity to declare war on Germany and launched an attack on Tsingtau. After a two-month siege, the German forces surrendered, and Japan took control of the territory. The Chinese government then regained sovereignty over the area in 1922. Today, the legacy of Tsingtau can still be seen in the city of Qingdao, which was built on the site of the former German colony.

Passport 2 German Colonial Passport Kiautschou

The passport is issued to 36 years old (born 11 Feb 1876 in Haldersleben/Schleswig-Holstein) Navy surgeon officer Dr. Ernst Prahl, who is traveling via Vladivostok or Dalny, Siberia, and Russia to Germany. Issued at Tsingtau, 12 April 1912. The imperial governor (on behalf), signed Guenther. Dr. Prahl was tall, had blonde hair, a mustache, and a goatee. Blue-green eyes and as specific characteristics, scars on the left cheek. On the back of the document, we see some Russian visas and stamps. One stamp is also from the prestigious Metropole Hotel in Moscow, where he seemed to stay. The master list of the  Kaiser-Wilhelm Academy for military medical education listed him in 1910 as  Navy surgeon officer at the East-Asia Navy department in Peking. In 1914 he was a senior medical officer on the Yacht Hohenzollern, used by the German Emperors only. See the video of the ship here. General Colonel Ernst Prahl or as it is later called Marine General Staff Doctor Ernst Prahl died on 5 Jan 1931.




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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...