German J-Passport of Dr. Rudolf Schneeweiss

The following gripping passport came up by a British couple who contacted me via my website. The email reads as follows. German J-Passport Rudolf Schneeweiss

“I have a Deutsches Reich passport dated 1939 stamped with a big red J of Rudolf Israel Schneeweiss, who arrived at croydon airport May 19, 1939, and immigrated to the USA on October 1, 1940. I also have the Heimatschein dated 1936 of his daughter Elizabeth Esther Schneeweiss and her UK wedding certificate to Paul Palmer, father’s name Laurits Lachmann. Also wedding photos and other papers. Are these of interest to you?” German J-Passport Rudolf Schneeweiss

I communicated that I am indeed interested, and I got the following pictures of the documents. As the passport was issued in Austria, it is interesting to see uncommon Austrian words. While JENNER for January is still in use today, the term FEBER, which is February, is no longer used in Austria. Rudolf’s passport was issued on February 28, 1939, in Linz. The large Red J was added the same day. German J-Passport Rudolf Schneeweiss

The passport was three times extended in London in 1940/41 by the special division of the Swiss legation covering the German interests as Germany was at war with the UK since September 3, 1939, and had no own diplomatic/consular post anymore in the Kingdom. The Chinese visa from April 19, 1939, issued in Milan, Italy, is also interesting to see. The vis for the UK was issued on May 8 in Vienna. The British passport permit office stamped on November 4, 1940, then an exit permit from the UK or via Canada to the United States of America. The US visa can be seen as well and was issued in London on October 1, 1940. German J-Passport Rudolf Schneeweiss

German J-Passport Rudolf Schneeweiss

Further documents are an Austrian Heimatschein (Cert. of nationality), a wedding certificate, and a Police confirmation from Steyr, Austria. After further research, I found the following. German J-Passport Rudolf Schneeweiss

RUDOLF SCHNEEWEIS, born on September 5, 1879, in Bielitz, Silesia (Bielsko-Biala, Poland), had obtained the degree of Dr. iur. from the Law Faculty of the University of Vienna on July 22, 1902. He worked as a lawyer in Vienna from 1909 to 1919, then in Steyr/Upper Austria until 1939, and was a member of the respective bar associations.

German J-Passport Rudolf Schneeweiss
In 1939 he was expelled from the bar and emigrated to London/Great Britain. On May 8, 1941, he was deprived of his degree for racist reasons, as he was considered ‘as a Jew unworthy of an academic degree from a German university under National Socialism.
German J-Passport Rudolf Schneeweiss
Only 62 years after the revocation and very long after the end of National Socialism was his doctoral degree solemnly restored on April 10, 2003, or the cancellation posthumously declared ‘null and void from the beginning.’


Gedenkbuch fuer die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus an der Universitaet Wien 1938. German J-Passport Rudolf Schneeweiss
USHMM Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database has an entry on Schneeweiss.


FAQ Passport History
Passport collection, passport renewal, old passports for sale, vintage passport, emergency passport renewal, same day passport, passport application, pasaporte passeport паспорт 护照 パスポート جواز سفر पासपोर्ट

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...