German History – Passport of Germany’s 1st President
Theodor Heuss was the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany. He served from 1949 to 1959. His Diplomatic Passport was issued with the no. G0001.
A piece of cardboard, it looks like a rag. And yet it is a piece of German history, a German thing of the first order. The rag tells of that time when the West Germans could say at least half-loudly – albeit prematurely – “We are again who we are.” Now it’s turned up again.
The fact that this paper & cardboard document has survived is due to the proverbial “little man” who acted correctly at an important moment. Without asking his supervisor. Although – actually, he’s already asked him. That everything may be in order and proceed according to the law. And this federal law and statute offered a small gap. The man used it.
In the mid-1970’s, Winfried Jung, the hero of this story, was a young civil servant in his early 30’s, active in the “passport and visa office” of the Federal Foreign Office in Bonn. His tasks included collecting expired diplomatic, service and ministerial passports. These had to be destroyed.
One day Jung held said rag in his hand, holding a somewhat worn diplomatic passport with the number “G 0001”. The “G” designates diplomatic passports, a “K” corresponding to service passports. This passport is in the name of “Theodor Heuss”.
As a profession it says “Federal President” – of course in capital letters; before that, someone had at some point set the prefix “Alt” (former). For Jung, this meant: What to do? The travel document of the first citizen of this state, numbered according to the first diplomatic passport of the young Federal Republic, which became sovereign with the treaties of Paris in 1955. And now: Into the shredder with it?
Winfried Jung couldn’t do that. As a young man, a radio operator in the German Armed Forces, he had lived in Stuttgart in 1963. It was pure coincidence,”he says today,” that he was just in the city center when a funeral procession passed by with a coffin. Jung followed the train to the collegiate church. Theodor Heuss was buried.
What did the first Federal President, the first chairman of the FDP party, mean to the man? Yes, he was already an important personality, and he was more than popular in Baden-Württemberg. But a world didn’t collapse for me.”
A good ten years later, Winfried Jung asked his superior what to do with the passport. He said,”Do whatever you want with it.” And so the employee kept this (page by page stamped invalid) passport for himself. He was a little bit surprised, so he remembers today how impiously his authority dealt with the passport:”This shows how little attention has been paid to historical documents that could become important in the future.” Doesn’t this Bonn event speak of the entire history oblivion of the Federal Republic of Germany? A loveless relationship with yourself?
Winfried Jung put the document with the number “G 0001” to his own passport. “I’ve dragged him around with me ever since, wherever my profession has taken me.” A passport expired, the next one came; a gun ownership card and some old ID cards, all of which were now in a drawer. Right in the middle: the pass from “Papa Heuss”.
What the civil servant Jung, born in 1942, thus almost 60 years later than the (old) Federal President, saw in his life, is also a piece of German (diplomacy) history. He was born in Dresden. Before the victims of the great bombing, he himself confessed as a child:”In the Great Garden, the bodies were lying there as we were walking along, one beside the other, to my right.” Six years later, the mother and her son went to Stuttgart in the West. The father had fallen.
After school, nine years with the German Army. This is followed by a career as a civil servant in the Foreign Service. Training period 1969 in Helsinki:”At that time, the Federal Republic of Germany had only one commercial agency there due to the strong Soviet influence on the country,” recalls Jung.
The first regular foreign position was Khartoum. But even there, there was no regular message:”We were just a protective power – under the protection of the French and their embassy.” It was not until 1972 – young people were still in the country – that he was able to experience how the federal eagle spread its wings on a golden ground in Sudan, the largest country of the Black Continent.
From Khartoum via Bonn to Havana and Genoa, a consulate general that no longer exists. Mogadishu was also a station – “that was shortly after the kidnapping of the’ Landshut'”. Mexico City was another one. Finally, Calcutta. The Iron Curtain broke down.
“Now I was transferred to Warsaw in a lightning strike to reinforce the consular area. There was great concern in Bonn at that time: Will 300,000 German Upper Silesians knock on our door tomorrow? We didn’t realize at all that so many people had the right to a German passport.” But there were other worries as well: Those who represented Germany in Warsaw at that time could experience the abuse of older Poles, even spitting at them.
In 1993 Jung opened the German Embassy in a new state, Tajikistan. His last regular assignment was until 2007 in Minsk, where he witnessed the surveillance apparatus of an authoritarian state. At the end of his visit, the Foreign Office sent him to Opole in Upper Silesia to work as an assistant at the consulate. This is the largest German passport office abroad,”recalls Jung. “There’s about 20,000 to 30,000 passports a year.”
And here, in Poland, Winfried Jung found his second wife and a second home. His old passports are still in the drawer. Only the pass of Theodor Heuss, he’s still looking for a home. The current passport holder is ready to hand it over to a museum.
What a story! And I really hope this historical diplomatic passport found its way to a museum.
Thanks to German Diplomat Winfried Jung this important
historical document was saved from disposal.
Translated from German by the author. Original source: https://www.welt.de/deutsche-dinge/article3823204/In-Polen-aufgetaucht-der-Diplomatenpass-Nr-0001.html
German History – Passport of Germany’s 1st President