Post-WWI Refugee booklet - Our Passports
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Post-WWI Refugee booklet


1921 German Red Cross issue.


One of the major outcomes of the First World War was the transformation it had on the old world order and the changes it brought: The world that entered into that war back in 1914 was not the same one when it ended in 1918.


Books and articles have been written about the old world and the world that emerged after the cessation of hostilities; books about the horrific battles and conditions that existed along the front were published as well. Even today, more and more information is printed about the Great War that decimated Europe 100 years ago.


One of the changes that came about was the international attention and attitude that was given to the refugee issue after the war, the beginning of the 1920’s and the years to come. Important international conferences took place, with the Intergovernmental Conference on Identity Certificates for Russian Refugees, being one of the most serious and important one of all to take place at Geneva in 1922, headed by Fridtjof Nansen (some of the first attempts to issue special travel documents for refugees were credited to him and thus took the name Nansen passport).


During the battles themselves, thousands fled the warring zones. Many sought refuge in Western Europe, away from the hostilities.


The Bolshevik Revolution and the Civil War that erupted in old Imperial Russia during the war forced thousands to find refuge in newly formed Poland, Weimar Republic and other western countries.


The document in this article is evidence of one country’s attempt to address the issue of refugees:

The German Weimar Republic.


German Refugee ID-Booklet number 311 was issued by the Red Cross Committee at Kreckow, part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in north-eastern Germany.


It was issued to a young student from Moscow named Boris Schaller, aged 19.


The document has additional Red Cross Refugee applied stamps inside, bread-commission annotations and other remarks concerning assistance that was offered to him.


Though this is NOT a passport, it would have been carried together with a travel document or assisted him in obtaining one should he had decided to leave Germany later on: a temporary or refugee Nansen travel document would have been easier to obtain with such an identity document.



Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.



Neil Kaplan
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