German consulate in Tianjin 1938 - Our Passports
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German consulate in Tianjin 1938


Manchurian transit visa from China.


Here comes another exquisite passport that just makes a great contribution to an archive of important WW2 related travel documents.


What makes a passport rare and unique at times is the location & period it was issued at. During times of conflict the issuing of a visa or passport is extremely difficult so the chance of locating such a travel document is very difficult. I do believe that the item here, which was issued at a rather exotic location in Asia, can be classified as such: issued at Tianjin (天津) in China, at the German consulate April 7th of 1938 (examined by the Tianjin city police foreigners department on August 3rd).


This document is extra special because of the visas inside:


Polish transit visa issued at Harbin (Manchuria);

Manchurian visa issued at Tianjin (China);

Soviet transit visa issued at Tianjin;


The Polish visa was issued and hand signed by the head of the diplomatic mission to the city Jerzy Litewski, who was in charge from 1938 to 1941 at the consulate in Harbin (the Polish government in Warsaw recognized the Manchurian puppet State upon its creation in 1932 and therefore was able to maintain its influence and hold a diplomatic mission in Harbin up to 1941 (the time when the Japanese government severed its ties with the Polish Government in Exile at the beginning of October).


Some points regarding the Polish diplomatic mission to Harbin:


Its presence was established first unofficially for assisting Poles entering the China East Railways early in the 20th Century, then becoming a consulate from 1920 to 1924, changing its name to the Delegation of the Republic of Poland from 1924 to 1939, finally changing to the Consulate General up to its closer at the end of 1941.


The following diplomats ran or headed the diplomatic mission:


  • 1920-1922 – Michael Morgulec consul (some say already was opened in 1919);
  • 1922-1928 -Charles Pindor consul / high delegate of the Republic;
  • 1929-1930 – Constantine Symonolewicz, vice-consul, deputy high delegate in Harbin;
  • 1930-1931 – Edward Skowronski , consul;
  • 1931-1933 -James Douglas, consul;
  • 1932-1938 -Aleksander Kwiatkowski, the consul;
  • 1938-1941 – Jerzy Litewski consul.


German passport number 71/38 was issued at Harbin by consulate secretary named Marks on April 7th 1938 and was used 3 days later to vote for the infamous April 10th parliamentary elections and a referendum on the Anchluss of Austria, her passport was marked as such at the back! This is a first time I have seen such an annotation inside a passport being placed at China! This is an exceptional fantastic addition to an already rare passport being issued in the Far East.


The passport was used the following year to leave China in order to return back to Germany, before war erupted later on that year.


Polish visa was issued on January 5th at Harbin, but as we can tell by paging inside the document, the holder, Johanna Spengler aged 30 was not at the city so we can assume it was carried there by diplomatic pouch or by an individual travelling to the city, because her Manchurian visa that follows on page 9 is dated February 3rd and she enters at Shan Hai Guan (山海关), southern port city 3 days later. On the 7th she arrives at the city of Harbin, were she will remain for 2 days. Before this she applies for the Soviet transit visa being issued on January 30th, also from Tianjin city.


Johanna enters Manchuria on February 6th at Shan Hai Guan (山海关), southern port city.  On the 7th she arrives at Harbin and 2 days later she leaves for the Soviet Union via the Manzhouli (满洲里) border crossing (she applied for the Soviet transit visa on January 30th, also from the consulate at Tianjin city). On the 17th she exits into Poland via Stolpce border crossing and into Germany proper the following day at Neu Bentschen, then Silesia and today Zbąszynek.


The other annotations are for money exchanges inside Germany, last one dating from March 2nd from Berlin.


Hope you enjoy the images.



Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.



Neil Kaplan
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