Jew denied travel due to missing J-stamp

German Jew J stamp
From 5 October 1938, German Jews needed a “unique identifier” in the form of a 3 cm large red J in their passports.
The following German passport was issued in Vienna on 27 September 1938 in the name of Dr. Friedrich Kropf, a merchant from Lemberg. German Jew J stamp

The first unusual thing is the passport’s validity, the countries where the document is valid for travel. Here we can see a very detailed mention of countries. France, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia, Italy, “Nordic States,” Portugal, China, North- and South America, English-, French- and Italian Colonies.Jew missing J-stamp

The passport issuer was very detailed, and I never saw a selection of such wording before. But on page six, the travel document becomes even more interesting because of the following entry made during passport control at the central train station in the city of Saarbruecken.

“Rejected, because of the missing red stamp – 11 October 1938” German travel missing J-stamp

The red J-stamp was then added on 17 October 1938, and he could finally travel, almost a year later and just before WWII, to safe-haven to Chile and Argentina. At the beginning of the war, it was almost impossible for Jews to leave Germany.

The following document is because of this handwritten remark, pretty rare and clear evidence of the repressions against Jews. German Jew J stamp

Timeline of suppressions against Jews (extract)

02.07.37 Jews now receive foreign passports only in exceptional cases.
26.04.38 Jews must give up their assets.
06.07.38 Jews are banned from specific trades (e.g., estate agents, marriage brokers, tourist guides).
27.07.38 All >Jewish< street names are removed.
30.09.38 Jewish physicians are now only considered to be >physicians-to-be >.
05.10.38 Jewish passports are marked with a >J<. Jew missing J-stamp
28.10.38 Around 15,000 >stateless< Jews are deported to Poland.
07.11.38 Assassination attempt by the Jew Herschel Grynszpan on the German legation council of the Council in Paris.
08.11.38 First riots against Jews.
09.11.38 v. Rath dies. Beginning of the pogrom.
10.11.38 Pogrom night (of Nov. 9/10 >Reichskristallnacht<).
11.11.38 Jews are not allowed to possess or carry weapons.
12.11.38 An atonement of 1 billion Reichsmark is imposed on all German Jews. Jews must immediately repair all damage caused by the pogrom at their own expense. Jews are no longer allowed to run stores and craft enterprises. Jews can no longer attend theaters, cinemas, concerts, and exhibitions.
15.11.38 All Jewish children are removed from German schools.
23.11.38 All Jewish businesses are liquidated. Jew missing J-stamp
28.11.38 From now on, Jews are no longer allowed to move at certain times and in certain areas.
03.12.38 Driving licenses and registration papers for motor vehicles are withdrawn from Jews. Jews must sell their businesses and deliver their securities and jewelry.
08.12.38 Jews are no longer allowed to attend universities.
01.01.39 Jews must carry identification cards. Jews may only have Jewish first names. If they have German names, they must also accept the name >Israel< or >Sara<.
30.04.39 The protection of tenants for Jews is restricted.
17.05.39 Around 215,000 Jews still live in the German Reich
04.07.39 The Jews must unite in a >Reichsvereinigung der Juden< (Reich Association of Jews).
01.09.39 Start of the 2nd World War. 

German Jew J stamp


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...