Going to Manchuria in 1938
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Going to Manchuria in 1938


Traveling to the Far East with a British Palestine passport.


In previous articles I gave several examples of Manchurian visas that were issued and used inside various passports dating from the 1930’s and up to the first years of World War Two.


The Manchurian Imperial State (满洲帝国) was established or proclaimed as a state in 1932 after the Japanese invaded the territory on September 18th 1931 in what was then part of north-eastern China known also as “Dong Bei”  (东北). The Manchurian state did not open diplomatic missions in every country. Not many approved or recognized this Japanese controlled puppet state. Majority of the countries that allowed diplomatic relations where those who were part of the Axis sphere and the new state was diplomatically recognized by the following countries (according to year):


  • El Salvador (1934),
  • Dominican Republic (1934),
  • Soviet Union (1935),
  • Italy (1937),
  • Spain (1937),
  • Germany (1938)
  • Hungary (1939);
  • Slovakia (1940),
  • Vichy France (1940),
  • Romania (1940),
  • Bulgaria (1941),
  • Finland (1941),
  • Denmark (1941),
  • Croatia (1941),
  • Thailand ( 1941)
  • Philippines (1943).


(Other nations opened diplomatic offices in Manchuria, for example Estonia, with its consulate in Harbin issuing passports or other documents to its citizens living there).


What would happen if an individual wanted to travel to that “State” but his country did not recognize nor have an official Manchurian diplomatic mission to whom he could approach to apply for an entry visa? Surely this was a problem that the proper authorities needed to give an answer to.


Such was the dilemma that young Joshua Ben Aba Sherell de Florance was facing. He emigrated to British Palestine from Dairen (Dalian/大连 or Port Arthur) in 1935 and now after he received his British passport he was preparing for visiting his family back in Manchuria (a point needs to be made here: prior to the invasion, the Japanese had an enclave in the Dalian peninsula, Port Arthur, called Guan Dong Zhou Ting (关东州厅) ceded to them following the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, which was a Russian naval base).


Joshua approached one of the nearest diplomatic legations, Port Said, were he could obtain an entry permit to also enter part of Manchuria. He thus applied for the “Japanese visa” (No.15) on August 15th 1938, where it is indicated clearly by hand that the visa included entry to Guan Dong Zhou Ting (he entered Egypt a day earlier via Kantara, after receiving his Egyptian visa from the consulate in Jerusalem about a week earlier).


His passport has apparently two separate entries to the peninsula: September 13th & November 4th. Going through the pages inside this passport was can see that he approached the British consulate at Dairen several times, the first was to register himself as a “British protected person” on October 3rd and the next endowments were for November 15th, when applying for the re-entry visa (No.40) into British Palestine & transit visas though “British ports en Route” (No.41).


He left back home around December 7th (the journey from the far east to the port of Colombo was about one week; where he stopped briefly on the 27th). Around 10 days later, on the 24th, he arrived at Port Said, then 2 days later docking at Haifa, his new home for the past 3 years.


His visit came a year early to the outbreak of the Second World War, were the turn of events could have played completely different for him should he have been caught on the mainland at a time of war.


I have added images of this superb rare passport with additional images related to his arrival to the Mandate several years earlier and from his journey to China later on.



Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.



Neil Kaplan
1 Comment
  • Jerzy Czajewski

    Poland recognized Manchukuo “de iure” in 1939 due to the existence of Polish colony in Harbin and Manchuria (about 1 500 Polish citizens) with its cultural and religious foundations as well as Polish Consulate General in Harbin, Some Polish citizens owned large enterprises like Wladyslaw Kowalski – “king of Manchurian forests” or Leo Zikman – main shareholder in Polish sugar factory in Ashiho, S. Skidelsky enterpreneur in timber and coal industry.
    My appreciation for your interesting and resourceful website.
    Best regards,
    Jerzy Czajewski

    February 6, 2017 at 11:04 am

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