Polish Aliyah Passports
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the land of Israel. Also defined as “the act of going up” or as in progressing towards Jerusalem. It is one of the most basic tenets of Zionist ideology. The Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland) published a interesting article about these “immigration passports”.
In the 1930s as the shadow of history was lengthening over the Jews of Europe, several thousand Polish Jews managed to emigrate to what was then British Mandate Palestine. The ‘Passports’ collection in the Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland (Warsaw) consists of 3,754 Polish passports issued primarily during this period.
These passports not only bear photos and signatures of the bearers (in most cases), but the various official stamps and seals that appear inside trace the entire route taken by the emigrant and (on occasion) onward travels to other countries, providing precise dates for each leg of the journey.
Passports include date of birth, place of birth, last place of residence, occupation and civil status (single, married, etc.). The name of the child or the number of children appear in some instances.
It appears that the rule in force at the time was that emigrating Polish citizens, upon receiving identity documents in their new homeland, were to turn in their Polish passports to the Polish Consulate at their destination. Invalidated passports were then sent by the local Polish Consulate back to the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw, where they were filed away in government archives. Some Polish Jewish emigrants to Palestine may have kept their passports, despite the regulations of the time, so if you do not find a particular name, it does not mean that individual did not emigrate.
At some point, the Polish Government decided that these “Palestine passports” are Jewish historical documents and the collection was transferred to the Jewish Historical Institute. Only recently were these passports finally sorted, alphabetized and computer indexed.
This collection spans the years 1929 to 1939. Following the invasion of Poland in 1939, it was no longer possible for Polish consulates abroad (which continued to operate) to send used/expired passports back to Warsaw. As a result, the passports of later Polish immigrants to Palestine remained in Palestine.