Otto and Ilse Skorzeny Passports
OTTO SKORZENY (1908 – 1975) Nazi officer and Hitler’s chief and favorite commando, he made a daring mountain-top rescue of Mussolini, placed English-speaking soldiers in American uniforms to mislead American forces in the Bulge, and after the war headed the organization that helped hundreds of ex-SS officers flee Germany.
Large important and revealing lot of passports travel documents, membership cards, etc. owned and used by Otto Skorzeny, as well as his wife ILSE SKORZENY (nee von Finkenstein, d. 2002), all obtained directly from the Spanish heir to Ilse Skorzeny’s estate. There is a vast wealth of information in the body of these documents which not only traces Skorzeny’s post-war movements but also shows how Ilse, the “front man” for almost all of Skorzeny’s overseas businesses, moved about in his behalf.
1.) Signed passport issued by the All Palestinian Government at Gaza on July 27, 1952, and valid for five years, 40pp., given to Skorzeny under the alias “Hanna Eff. Khoury” and signed by him twice with that name, describing Skorzeny as a Palestinian national, and engineer born in Haifa on June 6, 1908 (Skorzeny’s true birth date), and bearing a “scar on his left cheek” and now residing in Cairo.
2.) Signed passport “Otto Skorzeny” issued by Spain at Madrid, May 18, 1951, valid for three months, 48pp., bearing his photo and three fingerprints, birth date incorrectly indicated June 19, 1908, marked “Stateless,” with visa stamps from Portugal and Caya, Spain.
3.) Signed passport “Otto Skorzeny” issued by Spain at Madrid, July 11, 1958, valid for three months, 32pp., bearing his photo and brief description, birth date correct, marked “Stateless” and allowing travel only to Ireland, Germany, and Cuba, with visa stamps from Germany and Ireland.
4.) Signed passport “Otto Skorzeny” issued by Austria at Madrid, Feb. 10, 1959, valid for five years, 48pp., bearing his photo and brief description, birth date correct, with visa stamps from Athens, Corfu, London, Dublin, Barcelona, Mallorca, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Zurich, Tangiers(?), South Africa, Nairobi, Cairo, Libya, France, Jordan, and Paraguay, and others, many multiples of each country.
5.) Consul of Argentina in Madrid special authorization for Skorzeny to travel to Argentina on an “urgent” basis, 1p. legal folio, Madrid, Oct. 16, 1954, bears Skorzeny’s photo and signature of the consul, with two related documents.
6.) Safe-conduct pass issued to Skorzeny by the Spanish Government, 1p. legal folio, Mar. 26, 1956 (split).
1.) Temporary Travel Document in Lieu of Passport for German Nationals”, issued by the Allied High Commission for Germany, Jan. 23, 1951, issued at Madrid on and valid for two years for “Repatriation to Germany and travel via France”, bears stamps showing travel to Germany and France, along with a Swiss visa.
2.) Spanish passport, issued in Madrid, Jan. 18, 1951, valid for one trip only, a visa from France.
3.) German passport issued at Bremen, Feb. 27, 1951, valid for two years, bears visa stamps from Spain, Portugal, Frankfurt, France, Switzerland, Rome, London, Accra, Luanda, Austria, and others – so many that two passports had to be combined to accommodate all the stamps.
4.) German passport issued at Madrid, July 26, 1963, valid for five years, visa stamps from Paris, Boston, New York, San Juan, Switzerland, London, Gibraltar, Dublin, Athens, Tehran, Iraq, Egypt, Bombay, Thailand, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and elsewhere.
5.) German passport issued at Madrid, June 13, 1966, valid for five years, visa stamps from the U.S., Athens, Paris, Dublin, London, Geneva, Malaga, Egypt, Nice, Lebanon, Lisbon, Sweden, and elsewhere.
6.) German passport issued at Madrid, June 8, 1970, valid for five years, visa stamps from Nice, London, Geneva, U.S., Rome, Egypt, Dublin, Bahamas, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco, and elsewhere.
7.) German passport issued at Madrid, June 26, 1975, valid for five years, visa stamps from Kuwait, Athens, Saudi Arabia, Nice, Canada, Egypt, etc..
In the years after Otto’s death in 1975, it appears that Ilse maintained contact with her old clients. The six remaining passports, German and Austrian, bear multiple visa stamps from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Athens, Zurich, and other cities in Europe and the Middle East. Interestingly, in the 1990s, Ilse held passports from both Austria and Germany.
Her Austrian passport showed 22 entries to the U.S., two to Rome, and one to Bermuda – and nothing else. At the same time, her German passport showed multiple visits to Russia, Argentina, Cyprus, and Uruguay. Finally included is Ilse’s Military Government Temporary Identification, 1945; a Nazi-issued1942 hunting license; vaccination certificate, driver’s licenses, Hamburg-America Line credentials, press credentials, etc., and a copy of her and Otto’s marriage certificate. Overall fine condition.
In 1952, Egypt had been taken over by Gen. Mohammed Naguib. Skorzeny was sent to Egypt the following year by former Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, who was now working for the CIA, to act as Naguib’s military advisor. Skorzeny recruited a staff made up of former SS officers to train the Egyptian army. Among these officers were SS General Wilhelm Farmbacher, Panzer General Oskar Munzel, Leopold Gleim, head of the Gestapo Department for Jewish Affairs in Poland, and Joachim Daemling, former chief of the Gestapo in Düsseldorf joined Skorzeny in Egypt.
In addition to training the army, Skorzeny also trained Arab volunteers in commando tactics for possible use against British troops stationed in the Suez Canal zone. Several Palestinian refugees also received commando training, and Skorzeny planned their initial strikes into Israel via the Gaza Strip in 1953-1954. One of these Palestinians was Yasser Arafat. Skorzeny would eventually serve as an adviser to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. An excellent set of historic credentials documenting the Skorzenys’ many “business ventures” selling training, arms, and material throughout the Middle East and Europe. Worthy of careful research. Sold for $4270 at auction
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...