1939 French official's passport - Our Passports
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1939 French official’s passport


Issued to a consular employee at Vienna.


This was the year that would change history for ever.


1939 saw events that pushed the world closer to the abyss. Be it in Europe or the Far East, the last days of freedom and “peace” were being slowly ending for millions around the world.


The Japanese made further advances in their territorial claims and gains in south eastern Asia and the Germans were expanding their sphere of influence on the continent.


Memel and the final annexation of what was Czechoslovakia were a clear and dark development.


The passport in this article relates to what was once a free and independent country that ended up under the Nazi German boot.


French passport number 53 was issued at their embassy in former-Austria to Joseph Albert Le Bras on April 26th 1939 who was a military “employee” at the consulate since the early 1930’s.


On May the 5th & the 9th Joseph applied for the exit & transit visas to leave Vienna . Both are indicated as GRATIS and this was because of his official status as a consular worker at the French diplomatic mission to the city. He enters France on August 6th via the Strasbourg border crossing, but does not return home: Joseph is sent to Brussels and remains there for nearly a year.


On May 13th 1940 the French consulate issues him an entry permit for a vehicle, presumably diplomatic or military that will enable him to return back to France. His military service booklet that came together with his passport indicates that he was already in 1934 in Vienna and by September 1939 was in service in Brussels. By 1940 he was already back in France registered at Brittany in north-western France. His whereabouts throughout the war remain unknown until the passport is used for his services again in Austria, liberated Vienna, and endorsed by the French consular department on July 8th 1946.


One mystery remains to be solved: his 1939 German exit visa from the Vienna police was signed by an individual who in 1923 was already stationed at the German embassy in the city at the passport consular section (I have added an example from an early 1930’s issued visa).



Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.



Neil Kaplan
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