The passports of Carl Lutz – A Swiss Hero

I have already written several articles about Carl Lutz, the Swiss Vice-Consul who saved many Jewish lives during the Holocaust in Budapest, Hungary. But today, I like to show you Lutz’s travel documents used in 1929, 1941, and 1950. I thank the “Archiv für Zeitgeschichte” in Zürich, Switzerland, for providing me with pictures of two of the passports. The 1929 document, which is a US passport, was kindly provided by my dear friend Agnes Hirschi, the stepdaughter of Lutz. Furthermore, I included the Swiss passport of Carl’s wife Magda, which was a generous gift from Agnes to me some years ago. Her travel document is remarkable as it was one of the last passports issued by Carl Lutz in his final position in Bregenz, Austria, in 1961. passports carl lutz swiss

What Carl Lutz did during his duty from 1942 to 1945, even when facing Heinrich Himmler in Budapest, was much more than just fulfilling his obligations. In such dark times, during war and Holocaust, he acted not only human but brave and righteous. Indeed, there were not many men of his character during these years. passports carl lutz swiss

Carl Lutz issued so-called protection letters and protection passes, a kind of document he had already “invented” years before in Palestine, covering German diplomatic interests vis-à-vis Great Britain in 1940. These documents were later also used (copied) by Wallenberg, Born, Rotta, and others to save even more Jewish lives.

For me, Carl Lutz is the “Inventor” of these Schutzbriefe and Schutzpaesse (Protection letters and protection passes); hence, his actions play a much more significant role than other righteous diplomats. Hundreds of thousands more Jews would have perished without such documents in the Holocaust. passports carl lutz swiss

The Passports

Carl Lutz US passport from 1929. Courtesy of Agnes Hirschi.
Swiss Diplomatic passport of Lutz, 1941 for his post as Vice-Consul in Budapest. Archiv für Zeitgeschichte, ETH Zürich: NL Carl Lutz / 8
Swiss passport of Lutz, Bern 1950. Archiv für Zeitgeschichte, ETH Zürich: NL Carl Lutz / 8
Swiss passport of Magda Lutz 1961 issued by her husband Carl Lutz at his final post as Consul General in Bregenz, Austria. Authors collection.


Further reading…

Carl Lutz – The forgotten Swiss Hero
Under Swiss Protection – Accounts from Wartime
The Passport of Madga Lutz – The wife of a Hero
Swiss Protection Letter – Escaping the Holocaust in Budapest in 1944

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  1. Dear Agnes, indeed the calligraphy service Lutz was using for diplomatic passports made them even more special. Thank you for the further details on the documents. With best wishes, Tom

  2. I am very pleased that my friend Tom Topol published these passports of my stepfather Carl Lutz. Lutz emigrated at eighteen to the United States, where he started his diplomatic career and stayed for over twenty years. So he became a US Citizen, and as such, he had a US-Passport. When he was sent to Budapest – where he started his unique rescue activity – he was issued a diplomatic passport. Back in Switzerland, he had again an “ordinary” passport issued in 1950. From 1955 to 1962, he was consul general in Bregenz, Austria – then he was reissued a diplomatic passport. He asked a calligraphist to write the text in gothic letters for these diplomatic passports. You can see the perfect result on the diplomatic passport of my mother, Magda Lutz. Agnes Hirschi, Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland stepdaughter of Carl Lutz

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