1951 early Fremdenpass - Our Passports
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  • 1951 early Fremdenpass
  • 1951 early German passport  Fremdenpass
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1951 early Fremdenpass


One of the earliest West German issues for foreigners.


West Germany was formed following the aftermath of the Second World War that raged in Europe from September 1st 1939 to May 8th 1945. As a result, Nazi Germany lost the war to the Allies and was occupied fully for close to 4 years, ending in its partition or division into two states: Western and democratic and the other, Eastern and Communist.


But, even before the events of WW2, the German authorities had been already issuing special travel documents, passports, for foreigners living and residing within her borders, already going back to the First World War and the early 1920’s. Various German cities and authorities issued temporary or permanent travel documents to non-Germans, mainly refugees that entered the country earlier, and these, when printed properly and in an organized manner, were called FREMDENPASS, meaning “Foreigners’ Passport” and all indicated inside that the holder did not in no way posses and hold the German nationality (I am no expert on this issue and others have written more extensively on these type of documents before).


As in most conflicts, many found themselves away from their homes and countries, some by force and some by desire to flee the hostilities and fighting that at times took place very close to them. The actual serious attempts to deal with the outcome of the war that resulted in refugees fleeing and flooding countries was after the Great War ended in late 1918, and some of the first international conferences and agreements that were drafted were  done in the early 1920’s for example the conference in Geneva that was tool place in 1922 and held by the famed Fridtjof Nansen who’s name appears on some of the earliest organized travel documents Nansen passport being issued back then, for the Russian refugees fleeing the civil war that raged in the former Russian Empire from 1917 (many of the events and conferences of time were organized or supervised by the League Of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations that was established during the Second World in 1943).


The document in this article will touch to some of the above mentioned and is an important example of an early West German passport being issued, most likely to a Jewish refugee from Romania.


Fremdenpass numbered 185/51 was issued to Dr. Heinrich krau aged 46 who was classified by then as being stateless. The travel document was issued on October 29th 1951 at Kiel, which was up to earlier that year still under allied occupation or supervision (the allies controlled the external and borders of western section of the country up to early 1952, relinquishing full control to the Federal German Government around April, if I recall correctly).


Passport imprint read for I 10307 20000 1 51 and this would imply that the document was printed in January of 1951 in 20,000 samples, though I believe the first sample to have been made could have been done by the end of the previous year, but I have not located to date an earlier sample.


The document is fully used with various GRATIS visas being issued from various countries such as Switzerland, Austria, and Italy and with some rare ones being issued by the Israeli diplomatic missions in Munich (!) as well. The German diplomat that issued the visa at Zurich in 1951 was Konsulatspraktikant Arthur Seitz (1911-1960), already in service from 1934 and was posted to Athens back in 1939 after serving his country in Basel (1935), Baghdad (1936-38) and in my opinion, a troubling outcome from after the war where Third Reich Foreign Service members found comfortable positions in the Federal German republic after the war (have also added an image of the 1941 visa bearing his signature).


Another surprise that was located among the pages was the British visa issued in Haifa of 1953 for entering allied controlled Trieste (!) – This too being a rare visa and especially if it was issued inside an early refugee passport and from Israel itself: Allied issued visas for occupied zones in Europe or Asia are exceptionally unique if being issued inside Israeli travel documents or in Israel, because most did NOT want to travel to former-Nazi Germany due to the Holocaust and death that it reminded the survivors who immigrated to British Palestine or the newly formed State of Israel later on after the war.


Due to the amount of visas inside this document, I have only added here some samples, including of the watermark found on each page.




Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.



Neil Kaplan
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