German J stamped Passport for the East
This is the 2nd passport of its type that I have seen in all the years I have been collecting. And what is interesting is that the visas & routes are nearly ALL identical, indicating that there was a fixed route that those who were lucky enough, and had the means, could use to escape Nazi Germany as the borders where slowly shutting down (once a final destination visa was indicated, obtaining the other transit visas was ‘relatively’ easy).
The German passport, with a remarkable low SN 97, issued at Wurzburg on April 19th 1940, was used, at the end, to immigrate to the United States. Escaping out of Germany was not an easy feat, especially for Jews and after the outbreak of war: Before 1939 those who got the right visas could travel WEST, going over to France, Holland, UK or other destinations such as South America and even British Palestine. But after September of that year, most options to the west where closed and this left the EAST.
Once the holder, Jakob Rosenfeld, obtained his passport, properly stamped with the large red J indicating he was Jewish (this was done due to pressure from the Swiss authorities back in 1938), and middle name of Israel indicating that as well (implemented from January of 1939 onwards) he started the tiring job of getting the exit & transit visas. This passport has visas taking him through the USSR, Manchuria & Japan.
Most World War Two collectors are by now familiar with the famed Japanese consul Sugihara that when stationed in Kaunas issued thousands of life saving visas. But there were other such consuls that issued the same lifesaving visas, maybe not en bulk, but still, important enough to enable the holders to flee. The same can be said about the Japanese consul in Hamburg.
Jakob left Nazi Germany via plane from Königsberg on July 31st taking him to the Belostok Oblast in the USSR (the visa was obtained at the Soviet consulate in Berlin on July 29th). Transiting via Novosibirsk-Chita and exit stamped at Otpor. He entered Manchuria on the 8th of August via the Soviet-Manchurian border crossing point at Manzhouli (满洲里), arriving at Harbin the same date. He left Manchuria into Japanese controlled Korea on August 11th through the “border” crossing at Ping-An-Bei-Dao (平安北道 – North Western section of what is today North Korea). We also learn from the images that he entered Japan proper a day later, on the 12th, transiting at Yamaguchi Prefecture. From there, travelling on boat to the US was possible.
I would like to add a point, that travelling to the USSR was normally done via train, using the USSR Express train, a sample image of a ticket is added here as well (this one issued from Kaunas, most likely with an additional ticket from Moscow to Vladivostok in the East).
It is always heartwarming to find the evidence of those lucky ones who managed to save themselves and arrive safely in neutral or western allied countries. But we always learn that doing so was never easy, and it was a journey full of risks, right up to the end.
Thank you for the collector in the US for sending me these images.
His set also includes the J Kennkarte issued to the holder’s wife, now also becoming scarce.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.