Danzig Passport History
The website www.Danzig.org has everything that you need to know about the Free City of Danzig (Gdansk). Besides the excellent gallery of the three passport types in seven versions (direct link here…), you will find vast information, media, and much more about the city. Truly an excellent site. I did enjoy reading… Last but not least you will find displayed also an “Alien Passport” version which is most rare to find (and still missing in my collection).
According to the Art. 105 of the Treaty of Versailles, German nationals ordinarily resident in this territory ipso facto lost their German nationality in order to become nationals of the Freie Stadt Danzig. Freie Stadt Danzig ‘Free City Danzig’ gave its citizens the passes that documented that confirmed the nationality and entitled the owners to cross the international borders. Further, you can see a variety of three (3) different types of passports in seven (7) variations of the Freie Stadt Danzig – ‘Free City Danzig’. You will find a great variety of visas, border cancels, money transfers, even Freie Stadt Danzig and Polish ‘Revenue’ stamps used as taxation. Danzig Passport History
Gdańsk (German: Danzig) is one of the oldest cities in Poland. Founded by the Polish ruler Mieszko I in the 10th century, the city was for a long time part of Piast state either directly or as a fief. In 1308 the city became part of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights until 1454. Thereafter it became part of Poland again, although with increasing autonomy. A vital naval city for the Polish grain trade it attracted people from all over the European continent. The city was taken over by Prussia during the Second Partition of Poland in 1793 and subsequently lost its importance as a trading port. Briefly becoming a free city during Napoleonic wars, it was again Prussian after Napoleon’s defeat, and later became part of the newly created German Empire.
After World War I the Free City of Danzig was created, a city-state under the supervision of the League of Nations. The German attack on the Polish military depot at Westerplatte marks the start of World War II and the city was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1939. Local Jews were systematically murdered in the Holocaust while Poles and Kashubians also faced persecution. After World War II the city became part of Poland and the city’s German inhabitants, that had constituted the vast majority of the city’s mixed population before the war, either fled or were expelled to Germany. During the post-1945 era, the city was rebuilt from war damage, and vast shipyards were constructed. The center of Solidarity strikes in the 1980s, after the abolishment of communism in 1989 its population faced poverty and large unemployment with most of the ship building industry closed down.
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...