Rare 1919 Batumi passport
British occupation of Georgia issued travel document.
The First World War brought to an end the old political and world order that existed for centuries, and with the end of hostilities came some of the most “infamous” peace treaties that the 20th century witnessed.
Such treaties resulted with the establishment of new countries and states that used to be part of old empires in Europe and the Middles East. The Austro-Hungarian Empire broke down to smaller new states, for example, we can find Austria, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland and British Palestine in the Levant.
With the crumbling of old regimes and monarchies and formation of states, the changing of borders caused rifts and conflicts to erupt in Europe, were neighboring new countries fought for borders and expansion. The Silesian area, for example, was major source of conflict and friction between Germany and Poland. The Bolshevik Revolution that erupted in 1917 in the former Imperial Russian Empire had major ramifications to the region, with border disputes erupting between the Baltic States, Poland and their new Soviet neighbor.
The city became part again of Imperial Russia following the Russo-Turkish War and once again part of the Ottoman Empire following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that was signed on March of 1918. Rioting and unrest that broke out in the city resulted in the entry of Turkish forces around April of that year and followed by the British in December, resulting in the occupation of Batum from 1919 to 1920.
The passport in this article is a fine and rare example of a short-lived occupational issued travel document.
Imperial Russian passport number 1575 was issued on May 8th 1919 at the city of Batum, then under British military occupation. The unrest during the war led to the entry of Ottoman forces into the city on February 1918. Two months later the city was annexed by the army and forcibly handed over by the newly formed Democratic Republic of Georgia. By the end of the year the British army, led by an expeditionary force of 23,000 men, entered the region and the city and formal occupation lasted from 1919 to around the middle of 1920 (though majority of the troops left by the summer of 1919, it was governed by General James Cooke-Collis), when the entire area was ceded to Georgia. Unrest and the “changing-of-hands” again took place in the following years. Finally it was part of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, capital city of the Adjar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
The passport was issued by the Batum Central Police authorities under approval and “without (British) police objection” on May 9th. The passport was countersigned by the Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal (DAPM), stamped and signed at the British base.
It was used to travel to Paris the same year bearing the Russian Consulate General’s endorsement on page 2, indicating that an older passport was canceled.
I am very pleased to share the images here with you of this rare WWI related passport.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.