Life-saving visa by Chiune Sugihara

live-saving visa Chiune Sugihara

Life-saving visa by Chiune Sugihara returned to Tokyo
A picture of Nathan Bluman is seen in his passport.

Life-saving visa by Chiune Sugihara

A passport containing a transit visa issued by Chiune Sugihara (1900-1986), a Japanese diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jews persecuted by Nazi Germany by offering visas to them during World War II, may go on display at a museum. Visas from Sugihara are extremely rare! Only about 6000 were issued, but how many survived until today? Surely, only a fraction…

Nathan Bluman

The passport, which originally belonged to Nathan Bluman (1914-1986) of Poland and has been kept by his family after his death, will be entrusted to the Sugihara Chiune Sempo museum in Tokyo’s Yaesu district for a year. Bluman fled to Canada by way of Japan in 1941.lBluman’s sons George, 75, and Bob, 66, brought their passports from Canada to Japan. The passport will be unveiled before guests at the museum’s opening ceremony, becoming the second document of its kind to be publicly released in this country.

Life-saving visa by Chiune Sugihara returned to Tokyo
A visa issued by Chiune Sugihara is seen in the passport of Nathan Bluman. An official seal of the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania, and a stamp upon his entry into Japan are also visible.

To avoid any possible damage to the original copy, a replica of the passport will be displayed at the museum. However, the operators are considering a special showcase of the master copy down the road.

NPO Chiune Sugihara. Visas For Life

The museum will be run by the nonprofit organization “NPO Chiune Sugihara. Visas For Life,” headed by Sugihara’s grandson Chihiro Sugihara, and other entities. Another visa issued by Sugihara has been retained by the Yaotsu Municipal Government in Gifu Prefecture, central Japan, since 1993.

I have/had three documents with visas issued by Sugihara, one was a Czech passport, and two documents were Polish Certificates of Identity (the most common documents with Sugihara visas). Some of them went into a Holocaust foundation. (Japanese original by Hiroyuki Tanaka, Cultural News Department)


live-saving visa by Chiune Sugihara


incl. FREE guideline!

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...