1944 Attractive Axis Special Passport
Bulgarian Finance Ministry Inspector General’s travel document.
The last year of the war was very important with profound developments in favor of the Allies and with negative devastating prospects for the Axis powers, who were clearly by now loosing at all fronts, and the “Writing on the Wall” was now clear for everyone to see: the would-be implications that would follow.
Regardless of the events that were taking place at the time, all sides were busy, be it in combat or non-combatant activity: Diplomats and government officials were scrambling across the continent on various official missions, all trying desperately to gain precious time or the upper hand in political maneuvers, gathering or sending of information or be it logistical or financial activity vital for the war effort.
The passport in this article could be related to the latter; matters related to the financing or the securing of vital financial funds important to the Axis powers, or in this case, for one specific country that was now trying to cut itself from the losing side and find a way to attach itself to the Allied cause or at least prevent the coming destruction or collapse.
Special Passport No. 470 was issued to Nicolai IL Niagoloff, who was the Inspector General for the Royal Bulgarian Ministry of Finance. The document was issued at Sofia at a crucial point of time vital for the future of Bulgaria: End of July 1944.
Originally, during the first years of the war, Bulgaria was neutral (1939-1941). This changed after the failed Italian invasion of Greece in the first half of 1941: Germany rushed in to the aid of its ally and demanded Bulgarian permission for Wehrmacht troops to pass through the country in order to attack Greece. The threat of German invasion and territorial gains that where promised as well, convinced the government in Sofia to sign the Tripartite Pact, were Germany, Italy & Japan signed the treaty at Berlin in 1940 and later other Axis countries would join in. Thus towards the end of 1941, Bulgaria found itself actively in the war, something she wanted to avoid in the first place.
Bulgaria participated in the sending of troops to occupied Greece and what was formally Yugoslavia. But it did not send any to invade the Soviet Union on June 22nd 1941, and maintained Diplomatic relations with Moscow throughout the war. Thus events of 1944 led to drastic changes at all fronts and the collapsing of the Axis unity. By August 23rd Romania withdrew itself from the Axis Powers and three days later Sofia declared neutrality in the German-Soviet war. On September 2nd the government fell, Soviet Union declared war on the country by the 5th followed by full invasion and the final changing of sides and joining Russia in its war against Germany on the 8th. This followed by the formation of a new government a day later in what would be known as the Bulgarian coup d’état of 1944 .
The passport was issued on July 29th, and it may have even been used during the last days of cooperation between the two sides, used to travel to Vienna and Prague before and during the changing of governments: Exit and entry into Vienna, Budapest and arriving in Prague on September.
The last months of the war and the coming year following liberation and Allied victory found Nicolai in Austria, at Bregenz (staying briefly in Switzerland for a period of less than 2 months at the beginning of 1946), only to return to Bulgaria, via Vienna, on March 16th (a note to add: He was also issued an Allied travel permit for Austria on November 13th 1945, which indicated that he was living in the country since the end of August. This permit together with his original war-time special passport was used for his final return back home).
I have added images of this interesting WW2 related special passport which has GRATIS official visas for Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia & Germany.
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