German Family Passport Tilsit – East Prussia

German Family Passport Issued In Tilsit – East Prussia

Here comes a rare and beautiful family passport issued 1932 in Tilsit (East Prussia), which was then part of the German Empire. After WWII it became Russian territory, and the city changed his name to Sovetsk.

German Family Passport Issued In Tilsit - East Prussia

Tilsit, which received civic rights from Albert, Duke of Prussia in 1552, grew up around a castle of the Teutonic Knights, known as the Schalauer Haus, founded in 1288.

The Treaties of Tilsit were signed here in July 1807, the preliminaries of which were settled by the emperors Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France on a raft moored in the Neman River. This treaty, which created the Kingdom of Westphalia and the Duchy of Warsaw, completed Napoleon’s humiliation of the Kingdom of Prussia when it was deprived of one-half of its dominions.

This short-lived peace-treaty is also remarkable for quite another reason. Three days before its signing, Prussian queen Louise (1776–1810) tried to persuade Napoleon in a private conversation to ease his hard conditions on Prussia. Though unsuccessful, Louise’s effort much endeared her to the Prussian people.

German Family Passport Issued In Tilsit - East Prussia

Until 1945, a marble tablet marked the house in which King Frederick William III of Prussia and Queen Louise resided. Also, in the former Schenkendorf Platz was a monument to the poet Max von Schenkendorf (1783–1817) a native of Tilsit. During the 19th century when the Lithuanian language was banned within the Russian Empire, Tilsit was an essential center for printing Lithuanian books which Knygnešiai smuggled them to the Russian-controlled part of Lithuania. In general, Tilsit thrived and was a crucial Prussian town. By 1900 it had electric tramways and 34,500 inhabitants; a direct railway line linked it to Königsberg, and Labiau and steamers docked there daily. Russian troops occupied it between 26 August 1914 and 12 September 1914 during World War I. The Act of Tilsit was signed here by leaders of the Lietuvininks in 1918.

German Family Passport Issued In Tilsit - East Prussia

According to German data in 1890 35% of the Tilsit district (which Tilsit was not part of) population was composed of Prussian Lithuanians. Hitler visited the town just before World War II, and a photo was taken of him on the famous bridge over the Memel River. Tilsit was occupied by the Red Army on January 20, 1945, and was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945. The remaining Germans who had not evacuated were subsequently forcibly expelled and replaced with Soviet citizens. The town was renamed Sovetsk by the new communist rulers, in honor of Soviet rule.

Modern Sovetsk has sought to take advantage of Tilsit’s rich traditions of cheese production (Tilsit cheese), but the new name (“Sovetsky cheese”) has not inherited its predecessor’s reputation. The passport was issued to a family of four and had visas and revenues from Lithuania. The final family destination was the city of Lindau at the Lake Constance, South Germany.

German Family Passport Issued In Tilsit – East Prussia

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7 Comments

  1. My grandfather Max Josephson was born in Tilsit July 19th, 1903. He then moved to Berlin and married my grandmother. They moved to Brazil in 1938 escaping the holocaust. About 20 years ago, Max’s daughter (my mom) went to the German consulate to inquire about German citizenship and was told that because this is now part of Russia there is nothing they can do. She does not have any records of his birth in Tilsit

    1. Don’t let officials so easily go away with it. Often they don’t know the details and do just a general statement, sometimes wrongly. Google about German citizenship.

  2. My grandfather was born in Tilsit in 1873 and lived in Los Angeles,Ca until 1961 when he died. He migrated to the USA in 1891through Elis Island

    1. Dear Ronald,
      thank you for sharing. I bet this article awakes memories. Your family name indeed sounds German. Wow, your grandfather was just eighteen when going to the USA. What a journey for a young man. You can find his passport application probably in the National Archives, which you can access online. How did you found my website by the way? All the best, Tom

  3. My grand parents immigrated from East Prussia, German occupied Lithuania to the USA in 1911…
    Am I Prussian, German or Lithuanian

    1. Well, obviously you are US citizen with Lithuanian roots. I assume your grand parents emigrated due to the Russian influence in Lithuania. Germany did not occupied Lithuania in 1911 but in 1915 after outbreak of WWI and during WWII 1941-44. Cheers, Tom

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