Late Polish Republic passport
Pre-1952 issued sample with AMG visa.
As a keen Polish passport collector for close to 10 years running, I have managed to locate nearly every sample that was issued from 1920 to 1957.
In previous articles I have mentioned about the early Second Republic issued passports that began to appear around 1920, printed on poor quality and un-water-marked paper. The first type to be issued would not last long and the pages would easily ware out and become frail and brittle after a rather short period of time. One can attribute this, maybe, to the first years of the republic, were not ample funds were available and the country was still at war with its neighbors in what would be known as the territorial disputes, with peace treaties being signed finally in 1921, and then further plebiscites disputes erupting the following years (Germany had issues with her neighbor regarding Silesia during the early 1920’s). The young country during its birth and infant years was full of unrest and turmoil. It was not until late 1929 that funds and proper attention was given to the printing and issuing of the next “edition” of passports, this time being designed and printed on good thick water-marked paper, being bound in dark blue colored covers with the Polish Eagle being printed attractively in gold.
These blue-covered jacket passports were used up to the first half of 1945, being issued by the Polish consulates abroad in neutral and allied countries. Though the design was kept right up to that year, they were printed abroad, first in Paris (up to 1940) and then in the UK (1940-1942) and Switzerland (1944) as well. It was in the 2nd half of 1945 when the post-war Polish authorities, backed by their Russian sponsors and guardians, began to design the new travel documents that would replace the 2nd Republics issues, and thus around October-November of that year primitive samples came out, and again, as in the first post-WWI years, due to lack of funds and proper printing material, these ones as well were printed on poor quality and un-marked watermarked paper. But these where short lived issues, and after 2-3 months only of being put into use, early 1946 saw the new and fixed post-war Polish passports: water-marked thicker paper with black-clothed covered jackets. These documents were used, as we will see later on in this article, up to around 1956, well after the Peoples Republic of Poland was proclaimed in 1952.
An interesting point is needed to be made out: All Polish pre-1945 passports were issued by the Ministry of Interior which had its offices and branches throughout the country, were as the Communist era issued passports where supplied by the Foreign Ministry, and nearly all being issued in Warsaw (though some can be found to have been issued at Wroclaw, formerly Breslau).
After collecting such passports for some time, I began to search for those issues that should have appeared during the interim stages, those that would be issued between each version and edition. For example, a passport that should appear between July-August 1945 and March of 1946, the period between the end of WWII and the appearance of the fixed black-clothed samples. The last one to date that I have seen was issued around May of 1945 and the earliest is from March of 1946, but still, no sample from BETWEEN surfaced, and this was very odd: how would the Polish citizens or survivors of the Holocaust be able to obtain national passports and travel? Though no item appeared in over 8 years of searching, my gut feeling was telling me that they most likely were issued and printed. So where were they?
Finally, last year one such long-awaited for sample surfaced, from a private collection that was being broken up and being sold. I was at last able to compare the pre-war and early 1946 samples with this one here, with one interesting observation: it too was “issued” by the Ministry of Interior (Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnętrznych) BUT was corrected by hand to the initials of the Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych (Foreign Ministry)! And the next step was to locate the early post-1952 passports, though the earliest samples I have seen to date were issued at the beginning of 1957, samples issued to polish citizens and to those of stateless status as well (majority of the Jews leaving Poland in the mid-50’s were NOT issued national Polish passports but made to use Travel Documents such as Identity Documents stating that they were stateless or just simply Jews as their national status – a post war trend in most Eastern Block European countries that wanted to expel the remaining few Holocaust survivors who dared to return or remain in the country). But, as before, years of searching has led to no such passports being located after 1952 and before 1957; as though none where printed and thus no one could or would be able to leave Poland. This was very puzzling.
Again, as the past has showed me, patience was rewarding at the end: a 1956 sample surfaced, and it too was some type of “interim” or mixture of pre-1952 and post-war issued sample being used so late in time by the Communist authorities in Poland: this sample seemed to indicate that up to 1956, the country was still using the 1946 passports and amazingly, AMG visas for entering the Western Federal Republic of Germany. Now, at last the puzzle was complete and most likely I secured inside my archive all possible issued travel documents being issued from 1945 to 1957.
Passport number 59938 was issued to Włodzimierz Bełcikowski on March 28th 1956, for the purpose of immigration, at Warsaw. The issuing body was not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was issuing passports during the first post-war years, but the Ministry of Interior, which would issue passports through its special passport-office starting from the early 1950’s. The routes taken to reach Western Germany were not through Eastern Germany but south into Czechoslovakia entering at Petrovice on April 18th, exiting the following day at Cheb, crossing into Schirnding and from there, after traveling west, into France at Strasbourg on the 20th.
The attractive allied zonal visa & applied consular-revenue stamp makes this item extra special indeed and a good rare find.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.