J stamped German passport from Poland
1938 Krakau issue for a young Jewish teenager.
Much has been written and said about the infamous German passports specially issued to Jews, marked with a large J at the top-left corner of the first page (at the request of the Swiss from October 5th 1938). The issuing of these passports lasted until the second half of 1941, October, when the German authorities stopped issuing Jews with passports, as a means of encouraging and enforcing immigration, and started to prevent them from leaving. Towards the end of that year the decision to annihilate Europe’s Jews was taken.
Besides adding the large J at the top of each title page to a passport that was issued to a Jew, the addition of the name Israel was added to a male passport holder and Sara to a female. This began to appear around January of 1939. All these means aided other countries to recognize it when a Jew was trying to enter the country or apply for a visa at a consulate.
The passport here is rather interesting, not only because it was issued outside of Germany, at a diplomatic consulate abroad, but the location it was issued at: in still-free Poland, in the city of Krakau: a year later that city would be under German occupation and then the “capital” of the General Government.
Stella Reis, a young teenager from the eastern Polish city of Lviv, held also German nationality because of her mother, who was a resident of Lwow during the German Empire – then Lemberg. The passport was issued on November 28th by German diplomat Paul Krause (3.7.1897 – 31.7.1942 Berlin). He had a short placing in the foreign ministry: 1909 to 1914 at the consulate in Chișinău, then Bessarabia, and from 1922 at the consulate in Kraków (see sample image from 1932). After the passport was issued to her, she started the procedure for applying for the entry, transit and exit visas with the aim of reaching British Palestine. The Polish exit visa was applied for at her home town on March 10th, followed by the British entry visa to the Mandate on the 29th. The Romanian transit visa was obtained on April 12th, entering the country on the 19th and leaving on board a ship, across the black sea, on the 20th. She entered the port of Haifa five days later.
Not all were lucky enough to escape before war broke out. Her home town suffered some of the worst atrocities committed by both the locals and the German occupiers, who took over the city towards the end of June of 1941, during operation Barbarossa.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.