Arrested by the Gestapo in 1941
Polish Diplomat’s signature in a passport.
The months of September-October of 1939 were unique with connection to the issuing of passports, well, a specific type of passport.
Following the German invasion of Poland from the West on September 1st and by the Red Army from the East on the 17th, thousands of refugees and soldiers fled into neighboring Romania & Hungary, poring continuously from the north, for a crucial period at the beginning of the war.
During that time, the consulates in countries neighboring Poland were working around the clock in issuing travel documents for those who wanted to continue fleeing mainly to France and the United Kingdom. One of those diplomatic missions was the Polish consulate at Zagreb in Yugoslavia.
The passport here fits into this period of time, of passports issued for escape, and is an extra special and important document for two main reasons:
- The passport was printed in France after the Polish embassies and consulates exhausted their natural supply that was kept in their vaults; thus resulting in having new samples being printed in France (from 1939 to beginning of 1940 and later on in the UK, at the end of 1940, after the fall of France).
Sample French & British imprints:
Imprimerie Nationale. – J. 486 – 39
Imprimerie Nationale. – J. 309 – 40
William Clowes & Sons., Ltd., London and Beccles 25.xi.40
William Clowes & Sons., Ltd., London and Beccles 14.1.42
- The issuing official who signed the passport on October 22nd 1940 was named Mieczyslaw Grabinski, and his war time experience is extraordinary indeed: He was arrested by the Gestapo around the month of April 1941 following the German invasion and occupation of Yugoslavia.
(Prior to the outbreak of war he was the Polish Consul General of Munich, a post that ended on September)
Mieczyslaw Grabinski was sent to the notorious Dachau concentration camp where he was active in the Polish underground. After liberation, he was permitted by the Allies to make use of the pre-war Polish Consulate building in Munich for use by the Polish Committee, believing that he was truly representing the interests of the Polish People and the Government in Exile. In 1949 he left occupied Germany for the UK, were he settled.
The passport was issued to Halina Jedrzejczak, who is indicated as being an employee, living and working in Zagreb. We can assume that she remained in Yugoslavia throughout the war because her passport is renewed or extended on September 24th 1945 at Belgrade. But there is no further information that can be gathered from her passport about her whereabouts after that.
Enjoy the images of this simple but amazing passport.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.