Nansen Passport 1925 – Free City Of Danzig
NANSEN PASSPORT – FREE CITY OF DANZIG, Germany 1925 and valid till 1926, with revenue and stamps
CONGRATULATIONS to the seller and buyer! See the footer of the ID-Card, which shows it’s a NANSEN CERTIFICATE OF IDENTITY. This travel document is the first NANSEN I saw, which was issued by the FREE CITY OF DANZIG (Gdansk), which is now part of Poland. NANSEN DOCUMENTS for refugees are rare to find for passport collectors and, therefore, a high-ranking item on each collector’s wish list. I am glad to have very few examples in my collection.
Nansen passports were internationally recognized identity cards first issued to stateless refugees by the League of Nations. Designed in 1922 by Fridtjof Nansen, in 1942, they were honored by governments in 52 countries and were the first refugee travel documents. Approximately 450,000 Nansen passports were issued, helping hundreds of thousands of stateless people to immigrate to a country that would have them. The Nansen International Office for Refugees was awarded the 1938 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to establish the Nansen passports.
The Nansen passport was developed as a result of a series of citizenship laws in European countries, including but not limited to the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, that excluded millions of ethnic minorities, which were erstwhile residents in their states, from attaining citizenship. Hundreds of thousands of them stayed permanently abroad. It proved to be a great success, one of the few that could be attributed to the League of Nations.
While Nansen passports are no longer issued, present national authorities, including the United Nations, issue documents for stateless people and refugees. These include a Certificate of Identity (or Alien’s Passport), Travel Document (also known as a “Refugee Travel Document”), and Laissez-Passer.
Nansen Passport 1925 – Free City Of Danzig
My father arrived in Danzig from Moscow via Turkey and Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1920,where my
Russian grandfather had a herring export business to Russia before the Russian Revolution and
afterwards to Poland and the Baltic Countries. He settled in Danzig-Zoppot in 1924, to be closer
to the selling action, while his oldest son ran the Scottish end of the business, which concentrated
on curing (salting in barrels). He remained a “Staatenloser,” that is “subject without nationality,”
until his death in Spring 1939.
My mother hailed from Odessa, a captain’s daughter of an ethnic Pole from Wilna, holding Russian
citizenship, of course. After Odessa fell to the Revolution, he barely escaped via Rumania to the
newly erected Polish Republic, acquired Polish citizenship and was therefor able to get his family out of
the Soviet Union to join him on “Holm,” the Polish exterritorial part in the harbor of the newly established
Free City of Danzig. In the thirties he became Deputy Master of the Port of Gdynia, until the end of the
Polish Campaign, September 18, 1939. He survived WW II near Warsaw.
I was born in 1930, both of my parents holding some kind of paper denoting them as subjects without
nationality. Could this have been a Nansen-Pass?
As soon as Danzig reverted to the Reich on September 1, 1939 (Reincorporation), we had to register as
aliens and my parents each received, in June 1940, an official Passport, classifide as “Fremdenpass,”
(=Passport for Aliens), with the stamped-in designation, “Staatenlos,” meaning “Stateless.” This passport
was validated annually, the last time in1944, and approved our legal residency to the end of the war.
Although born in 1930, in the Free City of Danzig, I did not acquire Danzig citizenship, but also became
I would be interested to know, under which Nazi administrative office former Russian subjects continuing
to reside in Danzig after the re-incorporation of the City and territory with the Reich, September 1939, were
placed for political surveillance.
Dear Ivan, a very interesting story and I am glad you shared it. Hard to say if the documents from the 1930’s would have been Nansen documents, but it could be possible. Regarding your final question, please have a look HERE, which explains the German strategy on citizenship at that time. Stay in – stay safe. Cheers, Tom
Dear Ivan, that is so interesting! Do you maybe have more information about the Russians in Danzig at this time? I’m writing a book about my family who also escaped the Revolution (from Nizhny Lomov-Kislovodsk-Rostov-Moscow-Danzig) and I’m trying to get some more background information about the free state of Danzig. My great-aunt was there in 1922, her cousin stayed there until after the War. They too were stateless.
If you look at the text at bottom of this, you will see that it is actually a Danzig Nansen passport. First one I’ve seen.
EXCELLENT, Jonathan. Just another proof that you are a master in this topic. But isn’t it strange that this statement can be found on a ID-card maybe that makes it even more interesting. Thanks for sharing and I learned today to look more carefuly on footer 😉
You’ve probably noticed that “Nansen passports” are not always marked as such. In my collection, Nansen passports from Germany, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, are titled “certificat d’identite”, “Personalausweis”, “Nansenausweis”, or something similar. The Bulgarian and French ones are more explicitly marked as Nansen passports.
By the way, thanks for the compliment, but you deserve the credit for creating this excellent site!