Avoided execution in 1941 - Our Passports
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Avoided execution in 1941


Soviet commissar evacuated in time.


All WW historians and history buffs are familiar with the infamous Commissar Order that was drafted most likely in early 1941, during the preparations for the German invasion of the Soviet Union, known as Operation Barbarossa.


History is full of deceits, ploys and back-stabbing, and in my opinion, the one that Hitler committed on to his ally, Stalin, would be the treacherous of them all, but had he not done so, the outcome of the war as we know it would have changed dramatically and some events may have not occurred at all.


Getting back to the opening of this article, the infamous order was ordered by the German High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) in early June, about two weeks before the attack. It is known as “Richtlinien für die Behandlung politischer Kommissare(Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars) and it basically instructed all forces to execute without delay any political elements caught among the prisoners of war. This was part of the German racial ideology that was being indoctrinated into the armed forces with connection to the strong belief of the Jews being key elements of the Bolshevik system and those, the Soviet Political Commissars, who were principally in charge of assuring that such ideology was being implemented thoroughly into the Russian armed forces.


Therefore any Soviet officers, political commissars or those who were ideologically radicalized that fell into German hands Wehrmacht where executed without delay. But of course this order and heinous implementation of it was not known back then, not at first, to the Soviet authorities and as the war progressed it became clear what where the real intentions of the advancing and conquering forces.


Not all died at first, and those posted much behind the lines or in areas still not overrun by the advancing German army could avoid certain death by evacuating themselves further east, deeper into the Soviet Union, first to Moscow or actually even further, to the war-time capital known as Kuibyshev (from late 1941 to the summer of 1943).


The travel document here falls into the above mentioned. But, before we continue on its usage, some explanation is needed on order to understand its issuance and background.


In a previous article I wrote extensively about the Soviet occupational passports issued during the years 1940-1941, prior to the German invasion known as operation Barbarossa. These types of travel documents, the “Internal Passport”, were meant to be used for travelling inside the Soviet territory and a means of control, exiting and entering different zones of administration or city. The earliest samples found are from 1940 that year and also continuing into 1941, when the government printing press, that issued the Soviet internal-passports, named GOZNAK, issued passports also for the former Baltic States in 1941 as well. We can find two sets of such passports being issued: 1938 pre-war printed samples, issued to eastern Poland’s “new” citizens and for the Baltics, printed in 1941, with added new languages for the three new states incorporated into the Soviet sphere of influence.


Soviet internal passport numbered 633679 was issued on July 6th 1941 by a branch of the NKVD at Roslavl, at the southern section of Smolensk region, east of Ukraine, to Brokarev Anton Terentyevich aged 60. The document was issued to him based on a previous issued example and a work permit. The fact that the document was not limited to 5 years, the normal validity period for a REGULAR issue, indicates that the holder held some official position in the communist system (a “serviceman” unsuitable for military service as indicated inside), and this travel document could be seen also as an “Official Passport“, thus making Anton here at high risk of being executed should he fall into German hands! The issuing date is for AFTER the invasion of the Soviet Union would thus strengthen the case that its sole purpose of issuance was to enable Anton here to escape east, be evacuated further deeper into the country: by examining the “visas” we can tell that the first applied stamps were for Smolensk, followed by Tambov and last, entry to the temporary capital of Kuibyshev.


I can add a last comment, that from my point of view, though these type of travel documents were used internally and not for travel abroad, they did, in some ways, acted as a “life-saving-document” because it enabled also Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union to escape east, thus avoid extermination a year later at the hands of the Germans.




Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.



Neil Kaplan
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