First Vienna award related passport - Our Passports
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First Vienna award related passport


Post-Munich Agreement passport used for Palestine in 1939.


The 20th Century was one of the most violent centuries in modern history. A century of 2 world wars, each war with its own aftermath, conflicts, some that even can be felt today, already well into the beginning of the 21st Century.


First Vienna Award refers to the aftermath of the Munich Agreement, the agreement that only stalled the war that eventually broke out in September 1st 1939. Following the agreement, and the First Vienna Arbitration, Czechoslovakia was eventually partitioned. Both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy wanted to solve Hungarian territorial claims without resulting into hostilities or instability in Europe. Hungary was never pleased with the borders allocated to her following WW1, borders that were finalized in the Treaty of Trianon of 1920: parts from former Austro-Hungarian empire where divided between Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes). Thus, at the end of 1938, Hungary was awarded territorial sections of Czechoslovakia, among them the city of Galanta.


The holder of the passport in this article, Joana Kastner, was living in Bratislava and also in her place of birth Galanta, 50km east of the Slovakian capital. Before the eventful events of 1938, she used the passport, issued to her in 1937, to travel to Hungary and Austria. Something frequently done by many pre-war Europeans at the time. But all this changed towards the end of 1938 when her place of birth was handed over to Hungary. Now, holding a Czech passport, she was living in Hungarian territory. This had ramifications. This had legal changes to her status.


Following the above mentioned award, the situation for those living now under Hungarian control changed, and for the worse. Hungary imposed military administration in the newly annexed territories, and the rights of non-Hungarians were revoked. As in the past, the Jews suffered the hardest during times of instability. Trade-licenses issued to Jews were now cancelled, Jewish shops shutting down. The Hungarian general staff ordered decrees that at the end led to the expulsion of former Czech and Slovakian nationals, now seen by the army as aliens and eventually enemies of the state. They began to lose their legal and civil rights.


Her situation again changed, now becoming a Slovakian citizen after Slovakia declared independence on March 14th 1939.

By then she was travelling back and forth from Bratislava to Hungary, since her status was seen as an alien: not permitted to remain in her home town, now in Hungary: needing to obtain a Hungarian re-entry visa back every few weeks. At the end, she made the inevitable decision of leaving. It was time to leave Europe and go to British Palestine.


After obtaining the transit visas from the Greek & Yugoslavian consulates in Budapest, she received the long awaited for British immigrant visa on August 28th. On August 30th she entered Yugoslavia, transiting through Greece on the 31st and arriving in Haifa as war broke out.



Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.



Neil Kaplan
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