Consular official passport
Consulate staff’s passport used for France up to 1933.
Sometimes the simplest of items can conceal inside the smallest of treasures and once exposed, history unfolds in your hands.
The passport here seems rather ordinary and not unique, early 1930’s simple Polish consular passport issued in Western Europe, one of hundreds if not thousands that were issued during the time throughout the continent.
It was the normal practice to issue citizens such travel papers when their previous ones were exhausted, be it the case when they ran out of pages to have their applied visas stamped inside, or have expired and thus not possible to be used anymore.
As collectors, we tend to find such samples issued abroad more attractive, this can depend on the date and location, at times making a regular issued travel document rare and even unique.
So when I found this item here, at first, did not find anything special. But, as all collectors do, I began to page through the pages and examine each stamp, signature and date. And after carefully looking at the document, I have managed to learn the following:
- The passport was issued to a CONSULAR staff, making it an official service passport;
- The document was issued to an individual who has a sad and surprising end;
- Applied diplomatic signature inside is of a unique official with a strong war-related past;
Polish Consular passport number 15974 was issued to Władysław Grechowicz, at the time aged 34 on July 19th 1930. He was working at the Polish consulate in the French city of Lille. He used the passport for close to 3 more years, with several official visas inside issued by the Swiss and Belgium consular departments abroad. French official annotations are also found (there is also indication that he was a senior reserve officer in the Polish infantry from June 1st 1921).
An interesting addition inside the passport can be found on page 10, where the document was extended on August 9th 1932 by Stanisław Świętochowski, who had an impressive career in sports, representing his country aboard up to 1924, the year he joined the Polish Foreign Ministry. For the next 8 years he would serve at the consulate in Lille, France, then after graduating in law, he was moved to serve at the Polish consulate in Düsseldorf from 1934 to 1938. The next year was a fateful one for him as it was for millions of others in his country: He was caught up in the invasion of Germany and the Soviet Union in Poland, and tried to escape east, to neighboring Romania, but this was done too late: At the joint border control crossing of Sniatyn he was apprehended by the NKVD in 1939 during his ill attempted escape, and eventually ending up at the notorious Lubyanka prison. Official records show he was executed the following year, on December 25th.
Władysław committed suicide at the end of 1933, after a long battle with tuberculoses.
It is sad to learn about the background and ill fated end of the holders and users of some of the passports we locate and find. As human beings, we always try to grasp tightly to hope and wish that a more positive ending would have become those individuals, but as we can see in this case here, not always what we want and wish for materializes…
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.