Moshe Yuval brings home Jews from Shanghai

Various organizations in Israel put a plight before the United Nations. As a result, the Jewish Agency and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association (UNRRA) began to make special arrangements to bring out the remaining Jews from China to Israel utilizing chartered sea-going vessels and airplanes. To facilitate these arrangements, the Jewish Agency requested that Moshe Yuval, the newly appointed Vice-Consul of Israel in New York, visit Shanghai and coordinate all efforts for a smooth evacuation of China’s Jewry.

German passport Israel Consul
Moshe Yuval, Israel vice-consul in New York, was scheduled to leave today for China to facilitate the emigration of Jews from China to Israel. Yuval expects to arrive in Shanghai Tuesday to serve as the representative of the Israeli Ministry of Immigration (JTA, November 29, 1948).

One of the very first consuls of Israel

Yuval arrived in November 1948 and was met at the airport by a ten-member committee, myself included, representing the Jewish community of Shanghai. At the Cathay Hotel, the clerk asked Yuval for his signature and his profession. Calmly, in a matter-of-fact voice, Yuval replied, “I am the Vice-Consul of Israel.”

Most likely, he did not notice the smiles of pride and happiness on our faces. Some of us could not control our tears. Just imagine that here in a Chinese hotel in Shanghai, we heard the words, “Vice-Consul of Israel!”

At once, Israel became a state, and I ceased to be stateless. These four words said it all. We are no longer homeless! We have a Vice-Consul! We are equal among people! We have a Jewish state! Together with Moshe, a committee, the Palamt, was formed to take charge of all preparations, interviews, and financial arrangements for the various expeditions by sea and air. (Source: My China – Jewish Life in the Orient, 1900-1950, Yaccov Liberman). 

The Passport Moshe Yuval Jews Shanghai

But let’s have a closer look at the details of the German NS passport. A standard passport issued to Siegfried “Israel” Friedberg from Stettin, a civil engineering worker, born September 21, 1889. Page four shows the document was issued on April 11, 1939, and confirmed by the police on April 15. Some days in between for processing wasn’t unusual at these times. His travel document was valid for one year until April 10, 1940. The red J-stamp for JEW was added and should have April 11, 1939, instead of April 10. The clerk likely looked at the expiry date rather than the issuing date, explaining the difference of one day.

What is EXTRAORDINARY, of course, is the ISRAELI VISA issued by Vice-Consul Moshe Yuval in Shanghai on December 15, 1948, in a GERMAN NS PASSPORT to bring JEWS home to ISRAEL! At that time, the STATE OF ISRAEL existed for just seven months! This passport historical treasure is paramount in relation to the Holocaust (Shanghai-Jews) and the newly founded State of Israel! NEVER SEEN BEFORE!

Moshe Yuval (Zimbal)

(September 24, 1913 – April 1982) was one of the leaders of the youth aliyah from Latvia, a member of the Foreign Service, and deputy director of Yad Vashem. Served as Israel’s Ambassador to Australia, Peru. Born in the city of Devinsk, Latvia he emigrated in 1932 at the age of 18 to Eretz Israel. Moshe Yuval Jews Shanghai

As an avid Zionist and speaker of languages, he joined the Jewish Agency in 1936, which was the representative body of the Jews of Palestine at the time. In this capacity, server correlation with military officials and civilian unit of APS. During World War II, he served as secretary of the “Center for mobilization”, and dealt with, inter alia, on volunteerism Jewish British army. His role in the Jewish Agency served as the right hand of Moshe Sharett, who had been prime In the agency’s political department, in Moshe Sharet’s letters, Yuval was nicknamed “Inbal”, and on Sharett’s advice, as documented in the letters, you changed his last name from Zimbal to Yuval, in August 1946. A well-known operation, in which Yuval took part, took place in 1946, by order of Zalman Shazar, when Yuval went to Tel Aviv to work to regulate the certificates of “Babylonian women” – the intention is to regulate the status of five Jewish women who married Israeli men who served in the army The British in Iraq during World War II, but the Iraqi authorities prevented their immigration.

Katriel Katz (left) with Moshe Yuval (Deputy Consul in New York) and Yeruham Cohen, 1949.

The founding of Israel Moshe Yuval Jews Shanghai

On May 16, 1948, with the establishment of the state, Yuval began working in the Foreign Ministry, serving in various positions in Israel and abroad until his retirement in 1978. As part of his work, he served as Israel’s representative in Shanghai, China, for several months.

During these months, he was mainly involved in bringing Jewish war refugees from Europe and the Chinese Jewish community, most of them from the city of Harbin. Yuval had 7,000 visas to bring Jews to Israel, and from December 1948 to the spring of 1949, between 4,000-5,000 Jews immigrated to Israel, including leaders of the Zionist movements in Shanghai.

Among the famous families above was the Olmert family. Yuval was one of the first representatives of the newly founded State of Israel abroad. From 1978 to 1982, he served as deputy chairman of Yad Vashem. After retiring from the Foreign Ministry as a volunteer in the State Archives.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported further on Nov 10, 1950…
“Moshe Yuval, First Secretary of the Israel Embassy in Washington, has been designated consul in charge of the Israel Consulate-General in Montreal, Canada. He will assume his duties there today. Mr. Yuval has been First Secretary at the Embassy since May, 1949, and prior to that was attached to the Israel delegation to the United Nations. He was Israel’s first passport control officer in the United States, following the establishment of the Jewish state. He was Israel’s representative in Shanghai at the time of the evacuation of the Jewish community from China to Israel last year.”

Moshe Yuval Jews Shanghai


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FAQ Passport History 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...

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