One of Israel’s earliest PASSPORTS
4th edition and one of the first to appear in 1952.
Israel’s first travel documents appeared at the end of 1948 but they were not deemed as a “passport” but rather as a travel document or Laissez-Passer. This can be tried to be explained by the fact that until 1952 there was NO citizenship or passport law in effect and it was not clear on how to classify a new citizen of the State of Israel back in the early years of its foundation and with many new immigrants arriving as well.
So for the first 4-5 years of the young state there was no actual passport being issued and all such travel documents, when being issued, where hand-stamped with “AU LIEU DE PASSEPORT NATIONAL” on the cover and the tile page as well. The indication at the back of page 6, regarding nationality of the passport holder, would also have been hand scratched to correct the status of the holder to one possessing Israeli citizenship after all (an interesting point is to the section of the document that relates to the places one could travel: up to the early 1960’s most Israelis were not allowed to travel to Germany, this was also indicated by a rubber-stamp as well; the reason was political and also due to the Holocaust and its aftermath: no Jew should ever place his foot again on that country’s soil).
As mentioned above, the first travel document was a laissez-passer and after 3 printed versions a passport finally merged sometime around August of 1952:
- End of 1948 to the end of 1949-> first version without the national emblem ;
(The Israeli national emblem was officially chosen during the first half of 1949)
- End of 1949 to mid-1950-> second version WITH the national emblem;
- Mid-1950 to end of 1952-> third version of the travel document.
All documents were printed by the national government printer (D.M. – ד.מ.). Israel “inherited” it’s Government Printer (GP) from the terminated British Mandate in 1948. Originally established in an old winery, in what was a German settlement colony called Sharona). We can summaries the government printer to include the following:
1948 – Kirya (main): Government Printer;
1948 – Jaffa: Printers of Arabic official material & daily newspapers;
1950 – Jerusalem: Printers of Israeli Parliament (Knesset) material;
1950 – Haifa subcontractor printer;
During the first 5 years of Israels passport issuing, the printing system for official forms and government material can be detected by the coding and fine imprint at the bottom & back of the document, normally we would find the initials D.M. (ד.מ. – דפוס ממשלתי) that stand for “DFUS-MEMSHALTY” (GOVERNMENT PRINTER – G.P.) followed by the form code or specific number, then by the quantity printed and the date (month/year). But this is not the case for travel documents and passports! If one looks closely at the early Israeli travel documents (1948-1952) and the first passports (began to appear at the end of 1952), there is no indication at all of the government printer on the back. I can only assume that this was done for security and secrecy reasons.
The passport in this article can be considered as one of the earliest to have been discovered, being numbered 01164 and being issued on September 3rd 1952 to Helen Leah Eilon, originally from Basel. The document was issued by Samuel Lieberman who was the assistant to the head of the passport division in Jerusalem at the newly established “Immigration & Citizenship Services” department at the Ministry of Interior, passport office, replacing the former Office of Immigration that existed from 1948 and was the sole authority back then in passport issuing.
Israel, like other countries during their first years after establishment, issued its first travel documents close to half a year after its declaration of independence on May of 1948. But before that point, it permitted its citizens to continue to make use of the former British colonial issued passports, with them being endorsed by the newly established Israeli consulates abroad, and I have added also several examples as such.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.