What you see here is a fantastic document of German passport history, and I am delighted to have it now in my exquisite collection. Prince Reuss Heinrich XXXVII
Henry XXXVII Prince Reuss (younger line) was born on 1 November 1888 in Ludwigslust, Mecklenburg. Heinrich XXXVII Prince Reuss was the son of Count Heinrich II Prince Reuß younger line, chief of the younger branch (1855-1911), Prussian general of the cavalry à la suite of the army and the 1st Grand Ducal Mecklenburg Dragoon Regiment No. 17. On March 22. 1907 he entered the imperial navy with the character of lieutenant at sea. He completed his training on the training ship “Charlotte” and at the naval school Mürwik. On 27 September 1911, he was promoted to lieutenant, three days later he became 2nd torpedo officer on the “SMS Moltke”, the lead ship of the Moltke-class battlecruisers of the German Imperial Navy, named after the 19th-century German Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke. On 27 September 1913, he was promoted to lieutenant at sea and appointed company commander in the 1st Marine Artillery Department.
On 12 August 1914, he took command of the torpedo boat “T 60”. In January 1915, he traveled to Turkey. Here he became commander of the torpedo battery at the High Command of the Straits in the Dardanelles and at the same time head of mining. In April 1916, he returned to Germany and completed submarine training. On 14 May 1917, he took command of the submarine “UC 54” at the Mediterranean submarine flotilla. With this boat, he sank 14 enemy ships on several enemy voyages and damaged two more. On 26 April 1917, he had been promoted to lieutenant captain. On 18 June 1918 he gave command of the boat, and then on 22 June 1918, he took command of the newbuilding “UB 130” at the I. Unterseeboots-Flottille. With this boat, he completed another enemy voyage, which ran, however, without a result. On 18 November 1918, he was then commanded to the admiral’s staff of the navy and on 19 March 1919 IIa in the team of the Freikorps Dohna. Prince Reuss Heinrich XXXVII
On 20 September 1920, he took command of a company in the III Marine Brigade. On July 21, 1920, he became a company commander at the Coast Guard Division V in Pillau, before he retired from military service on March 31, 1921. Subsequently, he worked as an independent merchant, at a bank, an insurance company and as an unskilled worker in the naval management.
On January 14, 1935, he became an officer in the Central Department of the Reich Aviation Ministry as a candidate for e-office officer. On May 1, 1935, he was promoted to Major as an E-Officer. On April 1, 1937, he was commanded to the I. Department of the Flak Regiment 13, and on October 1, 1937, he was chief of an anti-aircraft battery in this regiment. Promoted to lieutenant colonel on March 1, 1938, he was assigned the command of the first section of the Flak Regiment 13 on April 1, 1938, of which he became commander on October 1, 1938. On August 1, 1939, he was promoted to colonel.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, he became commander of the Flak Group 8 in Breslau until he became commander of the Flak Regiment 123 on October 8, 1939. On 23 October 1940, he then became commander of the air defense command Denmark and on 26 November 1942 commander of the anti-aircraft brigade VI in Munich. Promoted to Major General on 1 February 1943, he became commander of the 18th Flak Division one month later.
On 31 January 1944, he was finally transferred as an officer e.g.V. to the Reich Aviation Ministry, on 1 April 1944 to the Lieutenant General and on 30 April, 1944 dismissed from military service. On April 3, 1944, he was awarded the German Cross in Gold. He died on 9 February 1964 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Prince Reuss Heinrich XXXVII
To find a Federal Republic of Germany passport issued to a former Prince of the German Empire is extremely rare as law changes in the early 1960s in Germany banned the use of noble titles like Prince in passports. This document was issued in 1961, expired in 1966, and must be one of the very last documents with such a claim made by the German government. Besides the military career of Prince Reuss above, I couldn’t find any more details of his private or professional life after the war.
Curious fact: In 1973, the 5th President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Avery Brundage, married Princess Marianne Charlotte Katharina Stefanie Reuß, the daughter of Prince Reuss. Brundage was 85 years old, Marianne was 36 years young. Brundage died two years later in 1975. Brundage participated as an athlete in the Olympic Games in 1912 and 1936 in Berlin as a sports functionary and then as IOC President in Munich in 1972. Watch a video clip of the wedding here.
Prince Reuss Heinrich XXXVII
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...