1952 early German travel document - Our Passports
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  • 1952 early German travel document
  • Refugee travel document
  • 1952 Refugee travel document
  • Refugee travel document
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1952 early German travel document

Issued to an International Refugee Organization refugee.


Towards the end of World War Two the allied forces liberated areas that were originally under Axis rule, starting with northern Africa, moving on to Sicily, Italy France and ending with Germany (on the European continent).


The Allies governed Germany, Austria, France, Italy & Trieste. Each one of those areas had special papers and documents, currency and stamps. They administrated a military type of rule and the governing body of this military administration was called the Allied Control Council.


Germany was divided into 4 separate zones, the Western zones run by the Americans, British and French and the eastern zone run by the Soviet Union. Each zone had its own movement permits and also an “Inter-zonal Travel Permit” and a “Zonal Travel Permit” for German nationals.


The occupiers in Germany issued travel documents for those under their control, for German nationals and for those now displaced or stateless and wanted to either return back to their original homes or find a new beginning elsewhere abroad. They began to issue them in 1946-1947, printed several times, and another second version that appeared in 1948, this time a green clothed cover for German nationals and a red clothed cover for the stateless or DP’s.


“Military Government for Germany” was the title on the first travel documents issued, and later issues had the issuing body printed as “Allied High Commission for Germany”.


United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was established in the middle of the war, 1943, and became part of the United Nations in 1945 (this organization was shut down in 1947 and the handling of refugee matters after the war was supervised by the body that was established afterwards, the International Refugee Organisation).


UNRRA’s main mission was giving aid to war victims, and this was done by providing all the necessary relief measures required, for example, the issuing of clothing, food, shelter and other substantial basic needs that could be provided. The providing of the above requirements would be achieved by the proper coordinated administration between the UN and other organizations erected for the purpose of relief and assistance for the refugees. Advisory committees were set up at first in order to settle matters connected to health, agriculture, education, welfare and DP issues for areas in East Asia and Europe.


After the end of World War Two, United Nations personnel or affiliated members of related organizations, working in relief and rescue efforts, spread out throughout the various countries, be it in the west or eastern part of Europe. The war ended with thousands and even millions of dispersed people, refugees from all religions and origins, who were in need of assistance: their homes were destroyed and they had no means of income. The newly founded UN took the task of aiding all those who were now desperate.


One such organization was the International Refugee Organisation (IRO), which ran camps all over the continent, even reaching the Far East: refugee and DP (Displaced) camps where located in Shanghai, the Philippines and even occupied Japan.


The travel document:


The allies gave full control to Western Germany around the beginning of 1951, where the border exits and entry markings applied into passports were stamped by the newly formed Budesrepublik Deutschland around April of that year (though the republic was founded in 1949).


Before all this has happened, the international bodies issued after the war, following international conventions and conferences on the issue of refugees and displaced person in 1946, special travel documents in the form of passport booklets, printed on official water-marked paper. Most countries who took part in the conferences or singed their charters issued such travel documents themselves, thus we can find many being issued in various languages: English, French, German, and even in Chinese as well (Israel printed one even in Hebrew (!) in 1951, following a later conference but at the end chose not to issue them, and instead printed its own version of a laissez-passer, keeping one specimen copy for its archives and most likely destroying all other printed samples from that year).


The document in this article was printed in the German language and was issued in Western Germany for a former Lwow resident (eastern Poland called Galicia, now in the Ukraine). Passport number 0039816 was issued to young Krystyna Doerfler aged 19 based on her IRO Identity Card that was issued 2 years earlier.


She was issued an immigration visa for Canada in 1955, arriving at Quebec on October 20th of that year after sailing from Bremerhaven on the 9th.


Have also added an image of the water-mark that appears on each page.



Enjoy the images.




Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.


Neil Kaplan
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