US Consul Geist In Nazi Germany

US Consul Geist Germany

US Consul Raymond H. Geist Saved Jewish Lifes In Nazi GermanyInspired by the National Geographic TV series “Genius” (The life of Albert Einstein), an excellent biopic, I learned about the American consul, Raymond H. Geist, who served in Berlin.

In part 8 of 9 of “Genius”, Geist got some exposure as he was directed (by FBI chief E.Hover) to refuse a visa for Albert Einstein, based on allegations of Einstein being an active communist. The refusal caused an outcry in the United States and was later rescinded.

Geist was an astute and well-informed observer of Nazi Germany, someone who had met personally with Himmler and Heydrich and appraised them well. [I] In December 1938, Geist warned his friend and former superior, George S. Messersmith that the Jews in Germany were being condemned to death and urged measures to rescue them. Geist followed in April 1939 with a more specific forecast: Nazi Germany would soon place all able-bodied Jews in work camps, confiscate the wealth of the entire Jewish population, isolate the Jews from the German population, and get rid of as many as possible by force. Geist got at least some of his information, he later testified, directly from Karl Hasselbacher, the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) official in charge of the department dealing with Jews and Free Masons. US Consul Geist Germany

In “Genius”, Geist asked Einstein to sign a paper that he is not a member of a communist party. Einstein refused to sign but Geist stamps Einstein’s and his wife’s passport with a visa. Einstein is surprised and assumes that Geist will lose his job because of this, which Geist rather confirms. Hence Einstein does sign the paper but is asking Geist to help more Jews in the future. I don’t know if this part in the film was true or fiction.

US Consul Raymond H. Geist Saved Jewish Lifes In Nazi Germany and is noted for having issued over 50,000 US visas during his tenure to Jews escaping Nazi persecution in Germany. In some cases, Geist went directly to concentration camps and intervened with high Nazi officials to assist Jews with American visas. Geist was American Counsel and First Secretary of the United States embassy in Berlin from 1929 to 1939. US Consul Geist Germany

In 1921 he entered the United States Foreign Service, serving first in Buenos Aires, and then in Montevideo and Alexandria before being posted to Berlin in 1928

While in Berlin, Geist cultivated a number of high-level contacts within the Nazi party, including personal contacts with Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich. Geist notified his superiors on several occasions of the conditions for Jews in Germany. Following Kristallnacht, he warned the Assistant Secretary of State George S. Messersmith in a private letter in late He returned to the United States on October 9, 1939, several weeks after the outbreak of World War II. After the war, Geist testified and provided an affidavit on his knowledge of Nazi operations at Nuremberg. US Consul Geist Germany

Geist received the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit from the German Federal Republic in 1954. Only five persons from the USA are within the Righteous Among Nations, an award given by Yad Vashem to non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. US Consul Raymond H. Geist Saved Jewish Lifes In Nazi Germany but is not included, which is a riddle for me.

Geist died in Los Angeles on February 28, 1955. In the same year on April 18, 1955, Albert Einstein died in Princeton.

A total of 77,751 German nationals — approximately 70,000 of whom were Jews — immigrated to the United States during the years 1933-1939. But more than twice that number — 184,525, to be exact — could have been admitted, according to the U.S. immigration quota for Germans that was in force at the time. In other words, the German quota for that period was only 42 percent filled. As for the other 58 percent who were turned away

To find a German passport with a visa issued by Geist is a challenge!

[i] From the book: New Perspectives on the Holocaust: A Guide for Teachers and Scholars, New York University Press 1996.

Update 28 Oct 2017:
Geist has been credited with helping Jews and anti-Nazis to emigrate from Germany during 1938–1939, including Jews and others who were under imminent threat of deportation to the concentration camps. However, between 1933 and 1939 the four U.S. Foreign Service Officers in Germany, including Geist, denied 75% of visa requests by German Jews and filled only 40% of immigration quotas from Germany, in a concerted effort to limit Jewish immigration.[22] As late as April 1939, Geist wrote in a letter to a colleague that the consulate should continue limiting the issuance of visas to German Jewish applicants.[23]

See also…

US Consul Geist Germany

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...