Jewish Passport of a Polish Man engraved in the Shanghai Wall List

SHANGHAI LIST WALL: A 34-meter (112 ft) long copper memorial wall is engraved with the names of more than 18,000 Jewish refugees harbored in China during World War II CREDIT: ALICE DAVIS
Mendel Finkielsztjn is engraved on the Shanghai List Wall with other, 18000 names of former Shanghai Jewish refugees!

The Shanghai List Wall plus sculptures are 37 meters long, of which 26 copper plates are 34 meters long and 2.5 meters wide. This is the only survivor memorial wall with the theme of salvation in the world. As far as we know, the number of Jewish refugees who came to Shanghai for asylum at that time was about 20,000. Currently, there are, 18000+ Jewish refugees on the wall.

In December 2020, the museum completed its expansion and renovation project and reopened to the public after closing for over 6 months. After the expansion, the size of the museum is enlarged by 3 times.

Two residential buildings that were on the south and west sides of the Ohel Moshe Synagogue are now incorporated as new components of the museum, while their original architectural feathers were retained.

The primary objective of the museum is to discover and share the experiences of Jewish refugees, shedding light on their lives during their time in Shanghai.

Their narratives come to life through an extensive collection of historical artifacts, photographs, and generous contributions from former Jewish refugees. The museum showcases over 1,000 exhibits, including multimedia presentations, and dioramas illustrating living conditions. Furthermore, personal accounts, are all aimed at portraying the compelling stories of these resilient individuals.

The museum excels in offering comprehensive and precise English-language translations alongside the Chinese text, ensuring accessibility for all visitors. Additionally, audio guides are readily available, enhancing the overall experience for those exploring the exhibits.
Polish Jew Shanghai List Wall

Stanislaw Kostarski

Polish diplomat, Charge de Affairs of the Republic of Poland in Nanjing, press counselor of the Embassy of the Polish People’s Republic in London, long-term head of the foreign department, and Paris correspondent of Życie Warszawy. During World War II, Kostarski was a lieutenant of the Home Army and participated in the Warsaw Uprising. (born 1920, died August 11, 2007).

Stanisław Kostarski CIA 1948.
Stanisław Kostarski CIA 1948.

In 1939, Poland was an ominous place for a Jew

The country was divided after the Nazi invasion that started World War II. With Germany claiming the western half and Soviet Russia claiming the eastern half.

Neither of these occupiers was friendly to Jews, and the many Jewish citizens of Poland had to figure out their best means of survival. Because their time was running out, Polish Jews decided escaping from Poland was the safest option. Polish Jew Shanghai List Wall

The outstanding passport of Mendel Finkielsztjn

documents his departure from Shanghai and his emigration to the United States from 1946 to 1947. According to an entry in his passport on page seven by the Polish Attaché STANISLAW KOSTARSKI, we can see he had an earlier passport issued by the Polish Legation in China on Dec 12, 1941.

This fantastic document is FOR SALE!

There is a Ledger listing in handwriting persons registered at the Polish consulate in Shanghai, 1934-1941 online, which lists Mendel under entry number 1374. Mendel was from the town of Kilkijow, Volynia region. His village was destroyed by Ukrainian nationalists back in 1943. This area had plenty of Polish Jews. The passport also includes a Canadian Pacific Railway stub stamped Dec 18, 1947.

An outstanding and rare document of Holocaust and passport history! Many thanks to fellow collector Pawel Kruszewski (†) who researched several data on this document. Read more in the book “Exile in Shanghai” edited by Sonya Muehlberger.

Polish Jew Shanghai List Wall

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...