Polish-German customs war
Official used passport for negotiations.
This part of history is not that known. It does not fall under the First World War or the Second World War either. But it is connected to the former and it did affect the relations of the two countries involved for the first years after the Great War.
The subject for this article is the Polish-German customs war that existed during 1925 to 1934.
This was a political and economical conflict between the Weimar Republic and the Second Republic of Poland. This confrontation did not exist prior to 1925, and the relations between the two countries, though having good and bad spells, were rather mutually beneficial and important.
During the early 1920’s both countries where at odds regarding territorial claims, and both saw plebiscites taking place, with international intervention, such as in upper Silesia and the East Prussian plebiscite. In those vast territories, and others, Poland and Germany lost land that before the Great War where highly important to the development of the economy, and once portions where torn away, given to Germany or Poland or the Ukraine, for example, this caused conflict and stress among all sides.
Western section of Poland was economically important due to the coal mining industry that existed in the region and contributed immensely to the revenue and income that Warsaw received. So, following the death of Germany’s president Friedrich Ebert in 1925, the country decided to cancel the favorable trade status it awarded Poland up to that point (the trade regulations between the two were derived from the Versailles Treaty and the Geneva Convention on Upper Silesia from 1922) resulting in the increase of customs duty for most goods imported from its neighbor in the east, having a direct effect on the price of coal since most of it was exported to the neighbor in the west. As a result, Poland increased duty on German goods being imported as well. This had a heavy effect on the Polish economy, while not so on Germany: the total of international trade to Poland came to around 5% only.
The conflict ended when Germany and Poland signed the Non-Aggression Pact of 1934.
Polish passport number 19, issued on March 25th 1925 at Królewska-Huta (today known as Chorzów) to Jozef Jarczyk aged 26. His profession is indicated as urzędnik, and judging by the contents of this passport, he most likely was an official. His first usage of the passport was in 1925 to neighboring Austria and Czechoslovakia. His travels to Germany, to Berlin, began in 1926 and lasted until 1928. All the applied visas for his travels were indicated by the German consulate in Katowice as being issued for “service use” (Dienstlich). His first visa was issued on October 17th and even the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin issued him an official (gratis) visa on May 27th 1927 indicating that he is taking part in the “German-polish negotiations” (Deutsch-Polnische Verhandlungen).
During the 1920’s and up to 1933, Poland already had printed out Service Passports (first version), and they were issued rarely. Most officials that went abroad where issued regular Polish passports, profession indicated inside as official and free of charge (bezpłatny) under clause 8. Smaller percentages were issued actual service passports, but until today I cannot understand clearly the reasons for this policy (second version of service passports were printed out on March 28th 1934, used for 5 years only up to the outbreak of World War Two in 1939).
I have added images of this interesting Second Republic official passport.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.