Visit at the Political Archive – Federal Foreign Office

On Oct 4th, 2011, I met up with Dr.Keiper, who prepared many great examples for inspection. Just recently, the archive got some binders from the German Diplomatic Archive in Mexico back to Berlin. Dr.Keiper was very supportive in my research, and he was also interested to hear more about the passport collector’s community and how we collectors get in possession of such documents. I briefly explained to him. Political Archive Foreign Office

The archive was well-prepared and presented to me the following.

  • The recently acquired Mexican archive with documents from 1822-1862
  • The personnel file of Friedrich Lindemann – I do own his Ministerialpass
  • Two binders about “Issuing of passports.”
  • Two binders with passport examples (incl. Binder Solf)

I am glad that I got permission to made pictures of several passports and related documents. Prussian Passports are, in general, nothing special, as you still can find them often. However, the Mexican file had some excellent examples which you do not see that often at as they were issued for traveling to Mexico or the USA.

Thirteen Duchy of Nassau passports. All are in excellent condition. Further treasures are Anhalt-Dessau 1852, the passport of the Danish Consul General in Hamburg 1850, Police passport Hamburg 1849 for a hatmaker from Berlin to travel to Havre de Grace via Paris. Heimatschein Baden 1838, Heimatschein Hessen 1845. Political Archive Foreign Office


Passport Hessen

Several Mexican passports issued in New York on blue paper instead of white paper. Another file presented to me was Archive No.328, which includes several German documents of Dr. Wilhelm Solf, State Secretary in the Imperial Colonial Office e.g., going to East Africa in 1917. Dr. Solf heads the office from Dec 20th, 1911 to Oct 4th, 1918. Political Archive Foreign Office

US documents

A quite rare document is the Grenzempfehlung No. 911 for Friedrich Franz Grossherzog of Mecklenburg in the companion of his wife and son going to the Haag issued by the German Foreign Office in Berlin on Dec 31st, 1936.

Grenzempfehlung Mecklenburg

Ministerialpass No.2396, May 8th, 1920, for the wife of German Geschäftstrāger (Ambassador) for Japan, Dr. Solf. There are several Diplomatic passports for Solf. But these types of documents are entirely various. Grenzempfehlung, Kurierausweis, Passierschein, Geleitschein…

The passport of ERICH LUDENDORFF, General of Infantry and deputy of PAUL VON HINDENBURG issued by the German Gesandtschaft (Embassy) Jan 7th, 1919 in Stockholm, was another document I hold in my hands. Other papers I have seen: e.g., Certificate of appointment for some diplomats signed by, e.g., A.H., another by Ribbentrop…Political Archive Foreign Office

Oct 5th, 2011

Prepared personnel files of Gustav Lindemann
The documents are:

  • Personal questionnaire sheet
  • Salary slip

Lindeman Financials

Lindemann’s annual salary in 1921 was 31459 RM in the position as Ministerialamtsmann, Basic salary 11800 RM, Local allowance 4500 RM, Cost-of-Living Bonus, 15159 RM. According to the files, his salary rose just one year later in 1922 to 64260 RM, which more than double compared to the previous year. This because of the high inflation at that time, I guess. Political Archive Foreign Office

Salary in 1929 – 775 RM/month or, 9300 RM/annually. There is a letter from Lindemann requesting emergency aid because of his serious illness for five weeks. The bill was 512RM, which was almost one monthly salary. Additionally, it was planned that he would go on recovery for four weeks at the cost of min. 500 RM. The Foreign Office granted his request, and he received a down payment of 300 RM and later again 200 RM for his medicine and doctor bill. Also, he went to the earlier planned recovery.

On Jun 3rd, 1936, Lindemann passed away. His widow will get a monthly pension of 275,92 RM. Later on, she claimed to the foreign office that the June 1936 salary was only partly sold out, and she was requesting the rest in 2 other letters. Letters signed then with “Heil Hitler.” In August 1936, her request was granted. Political Archive Foreign Office

Binder – Issuing of Passports

It seems, at the beginning of 1923, Germany was stricter in issuing visas for foreigners. Several verbal notes of different foreign embassies can be found, especially from the USA and the U.K. claiming the procedure. Regarding issuing of Service Passports: there is a written note from State Secretary Maltzan from Mar 15th, 1924, that this type of passport is issued only from the local police departments and not from the foreign office. The local police issued all Service Passports I have seen so far.

Why this exception? According to a general decree from Aug 5th, 1924, it is not allowed to use Family Passports for single individual trips of only one person.

All documents displayed with permission of the Political Archive-Federal Foreign Office. Many thanks to the archive team for their support!



incl. FREE guideline!

FAQ Passport History 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...

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