Sigmund Freud’s BOGUS British Passport

Sigmund Freud’s BOGUS British Passport

It could have been a great global news story to find the passport of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. But the story took another direction.

Via my website, I always get plenty of reader requests. Family members searching for personal ID documents, asking where they can find passport copies of relatives, or wanting to know if their old passport has some value. But sometimes also strange requests come in. Some time ago, I had a guy asking, “Can you organize for me, my wife, and my three children EU passports?” I replied that he misunderstood my website about passport history and not “organizing” documents.

But then you also have stories like this. A British lady emailed me that she has the passport of Sigmund Freud and wanted to know if there is a collectors market for it and asked me to estimate its collectors’ value. So I asked for more details and pictures, and of course, if it is a real thing, we are talking here about a serious collector value of such a significant personality.

The first pictures came in, and it was an old British passport, issued somewhere in 1933 or 1934. The condition of the document was bad, and strangely almost all dates of stamps in the passport were unclear readable or not readable at all. The passport picture of Freud looked surprisingly impressive. Firstly I ignored the blind stamp on the passport picture.

But I recognized on some pages some post-WWII stamps, and how is that possible when Freud died in 1939? (Freud had been a heavy cigar smoker all his life. In 1939, after his cancer had been deemed inoperable, Freud asked his doctor to help him commit suicide. The doctor administered three separate doses of morphine, and Freud died September 23, 1939.)

I asked more questions and pictures, and it became clear that this document was a BOGUS document.

However, even as a Bogus document, this Sigmund Freud passport has something. The strange combination of pre-and post-war stamps, his picture, even a visa of Zaire (!), and a stamp of Federal Germany (!). An absolute curiosity, and I want it for my archive as it’s such a strange thing! Here are some pictures of Sigmund Freud’s BOGUS British passport – enjoy!

Sigmund Freud's British BOGUS Passport From 1930's Sigmund Freud's British BOGUS Passport From 1930's

Psychology’s most famous figure is also one of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century. Sigmund Freud’s work and theories helped shape our views of childhood, personality, memory, sexuality, and therapy. Other major thinkers have contributed work that grew out of Freud’s legacy, while others developed new theories out of opposition to his ideas.

In 2001, Time Magazine referred to Freud as one of the most important thinkers of the last century. A 2006 Newsweek article called him “history’s most debunked doctor.” While his theories have been the subject of considerable controversy and debate, his impact on psychology, therapy, and culture is undeniable. As W.H. Auden wrote in his 1973 poem, In Memory of Sigmund Freud,


“…often he was wrong and, at times, absurd,
to us, he is no more a person
now but a whole climate of opinion.”


But here are some facts about Freud’s passport.

On March 21st, 1938, the Nazi secret police, “GESTAPO,” visit Sigmund Freud’s home in Vienna, Austria. They confiscated his passports and other travel documents, preventing him from being able to leave Austria legally. Freud had long resisted any attempt to get him out of Austria and away from the Nazis, even after the Anschluss on March 15th and the incorporation of Austria into Nazi Germany. After his daughter Anna is detained and interrogated by the Gestapo; however, Sigmund Freud finally realizes that he needs to leave is if he and his family are to survive. Sigmund Freud’s BOGUS British Passport


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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?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

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 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

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...