The last visa stamped by East Germany (DDR)

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last visa east Germany

This is a German passport issued in Duisburg in 1983. Seven years later, the German passport will become red and an EU passport. The passport was valid for five years until 1988 but was renewed in February 1989, then valid until February 1992. The bearer frequently went to East Germany (GDR). The curious visa is on page 15. It was issued in Wartha on 10 November 1989, which is one day after the fall of the wall!

This Federal Republic German passport probably shows the last GDR visa issued by the border troops. After the wall was open, a visa was no longer required, but passports were still stamped. My old German passport has a GDR stamp from May 1990. Two months later, on 1 July, border control between the two German states became obsolete. This means I also have one of the last DDR stamps in my old travel document.

last visa east germany

last visa east germany

Unbelievable, it was already 30 years ago when Germany East and West reunited. When the wall came down in Nov 1989, I wanted to go to Berlin but couldn’t. My first trip to the now open German Democratic Republic (DDR) was in May 1990 when I visited an East German pen pal. Back then, I was collecting coins, including DDR coins. I met my pen pal for the first time in his small hometown of Klingenthal, Saxony. His family was amicable, and I had a great time there for a few days. I was also sitting in and driving a Trabbi. The East German plastic car. We wanted to go to a coin auction in Leipzig but skipped the plan after finding a huge open-air flea market in Leipzig with unique antiques. No wonder, as East Germans couldn’t sell or export abroad. You could find everything they collected over 40 years there—a collectors wonderland. And, oh wonder, I also met by random a fellow collector from the West on this vast flea market. German Reunification

Before going to the market, we stopped at a typical DDR restaurant for lunch after our hours-long drive. We could order only the dish of the day and wait a long time for our food. We sat at our table for quite a time; some people got served before us even they came after us. Asking the male servant about this, he answered, “But these are important local guests.” The dish was simple, enough, and surprisingly – delicious. We still paid in East Mark for our inexpensive dishes. German Reunification

The grocery stores we visited had almost no goods to offer anymore. Leipzig was full of abandoned Trabbis in front of abandoned flats. We saw some of these flats. The doors unlocked, and we thought the tenants just left moments ago as we could still find so much stuff in these flats—dishes, books, clothing, photographs.

I visited Saxony, Switzerland, a hilly climbing area, and a national park around the Elbe valley southeast of Dresden. Together with Bohemian Switzerland in the Czech Republic, it forms the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Just beautiful. We paid for a typical Saxony sausage with a bun and a drink one East Mark. last visa east Germany


FAQ Passport History
Passport collection, passport renewal, old passports for sale, vintage passport, emergency passport renewal, same day passport, passport application, pasaporte passeport паспорт 护照 パスポート جواز سفر पासपोर्ट

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...