The Passport of East German Minister for Ore Mining

The Passport of East German Minister for Ore Mining

I still collect East German (GDR) passports whenever I find them interesting and affordable but that you find passports of former government members is truly rare. Here comes one of them. Kurt Singhuber (* 20 April 1932 in Vienna; † 15 October 2005 in Berlin) was a German politician (SED). He was minister of ore mining, metallurgy and potash of the GDR. This is now the fourth “high ranking” politician I have in my archive.

Singhuber was born as the son of a working class family in Vienna. After his birth, the Singhuber family went to the Soviet Union, where his father worked in the aircraft industry. When the Singhubers (according to the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty) had to leave Moscow, they were arrested at the border, sent to a “re-education camp” and subsequently assigned a residence in Halle (Saale). He attended high school from 1942 to 1950 and graduated from high school. In 1945 he became a member of an Antifa Youth Committee and in 1946 a member of the FDJ. In 1949/1950 he was chairman of the local group Wildau of the FDJ. After training as a skilled worker in mechanical engineering at VEB ABUS Wildau, he studied at Dresden Technical University until 1952 and at the Metallurgical Institute in Dnepropetrovsk until 1957. He graduated with a degree in engineering.

From 1957 he worked as a design engineer and from 1959 to 1961 was Technical Director at VEB Heavy Machinery Construction “Heinrich Rau” in Wildau. From 1958 he was a member of the Central Working Group for Research and Technology “Rolling Mill Equipment” and from 1963 for “Iron” of the GDR Research Council. After distance learning at the Hochschule für Ökonomie Berlin with a degree in economics, Singhuber was an aspirant and lecturer at the Technical University “Otto von Guericke” Magdeburg from 1961 to 1964. From 1961 to 1965 he was Technical Director and Plant Director of VEB Schwarzmetallurgieprojektierung Berlin. In 1966/1967 he was deputy minister for ore mining, metallurgy and potash. In 1967 he was awarded his doctorate in engineering. From 1967 Singhuber was also an associate member of the GDR Research Council and head of the GDR delegation to the Standing Commission on Black Metallurgy at the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance.

From July 1967 to November 1989 he was Minister of Mining, Metallurgy and Potash of the GDR. From 1968 to 1973 he completed distance learning at the Karl Marx Party College at the Central Committee of the SED, graduating with a degree in social sciences. From November 1989 to April 1990 he was finally Minister for Heavy Industry in the Modrow government. From 1978 to 1990 he was Vice-President of the Chamber of Technology.

And this is his last passport…

The Passport of East German Minister for Ore Mining
The Passport of East German Minister for Ore Mining

The Passport of East German Minister for Ore Mining

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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...