A special official identity card has come to light. The document, numbered 1, was issued on February 16, 1952: “The holder of this official pass is the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs.” With its bright red cover, the Chancellor’s passport is currently on display in the Federal Chancellor Adenauer House Foundation museum in Rhöndorf. Konrad Adenauer Chancellor ID
Except for the imprint “Bundeskanzlerausweis” in black letters, the document resembles a conventional passport: The federal eagle is decorated in gold in the center of the cover. Inside, however, there is only a single double-page spread attached directly to the exterior. Provided with a black-and-white photo of Adenauer, the passport certifies him as holding the dual office of Chancellor and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Cologne native held the position of Foreign Minister from spring 1951 to summer 1955 and the office of Chancellor. Heinrich von Brentano then took over the post. Adenauer remained Chancellor until 1963.Konrad Adenauer Chancellor ID
However, the ID serves its holder as a mere official certificate. A note at the bottom of the first page assures the bearer of remarkable powers: “The federal and state authorities and agencies, in particular all police authorities, are requested to support the bearer of this service card in the performance of his official duties, to grant him an unimpeded passage in the event of barriers and, if necessary, to provide him with protection and assistance. Konrad Adenauer Chancellor ID
The ID card for the Chancellor. A relic from the Adenauer era? Not at all. Chancellor Angela Merkel also carries an official ID card today, as the Federal Press Office confirmed on request. The Chancellor’s ID card is produced at the Federal Printing Office in Berlin. This is precisely where ID cards and passports are also made. While German citizens have to go to their local citizens’ office in person to get a new ID card or passport, the Chancellor’s Office takes care of the application for the designated office holder. However, the Federal Press Office is not disclosing the cost of the unique document: The document will be paid for “from the general budget of the Federal Chancellery.Konrad Adenauer Chancellor ID
And the passport has another unique feature: It does not require renewal after re-election but is issued immediately for an unlimited period. As a lovely memento of the political career, however, the document may not simply be kept: “It must be returned upon leaving office,” assures a government spokesman. However, it is not known why Adenauer’s copy was not returned to the authorities. “The ID card is part of the Adenauer estate in Rhöndorf; whether and why Adenauer was allowed to keep it has unfortunately not been handed down,” says a foundation employee. Konrad Adenauer Chancellor ID
Unlike most badges, the exclusive badge is probably rarely used. The phrase “May I see your ID, please?” certainly doesn’t come up often. “A chancellor seldom gets the embarrassment of having to show her official ID at home. The Chancellor is issued a diplomatic passport for visits abroad,” says a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Politicians, in turn, receive this from the Foreign Office. Angela Merkel also has a regular ID card and a passport. Konrad Adenauer Chancellor ID
Source: StBKAH Z-Au/B19, Stiftung Bundeskanzler-Adenauer-Haus
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?
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 😉
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...