"The Department of German Interests" - Our Passports
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  • WWI German passport
  • WWI German passport
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“The Department of German Interests”


Swiss legation issued passport from 1919.


Here is an important World War One travel document that was issued due to special war-time circumstances.


During the First Great War of 1914-1918 not all warring countries had diplomatic relations properly addressed or represented abroad.


Some neutral states took the task of legally representing the interests of various countries around the world, for example, we can find the Swiss, Swedish and Spanish consulates representing German, Austrian and even Russian interests in the US or Europe.


The passport in this article will relate to one such example: The Swiss consul in charge of representing German interests in the United States from 1917 to 1921 issued a travel document to a young lady from Germany (on February 3rd 1917 Secretary of State notified the German ambassador Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff that President Woodrow Wilson had decided to severe diplomatic relations, mainly due to their unrestricted submarine warfare. The relations were restored on December 10th 1921 following the signing of the “Treaty Restoring Friendly Relations” (the Treaty of Berlin) by both United States High Commissioner to Germany, Ellis Loring Dresel, and the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Friedrich Rosen).


Swiss issued “German” passport number 1120 was issued to Lotte Baucke, from Berlin, in Washington on July 30th 1919 by Swiss senior diplomat in charge of “Representing German interests” in the United States Dr. Carl P. Huebscher (during the war he made frequent prisoner of war camp inspections, for example to POW barracks Fort McPherson in Georgia in 1918, on behalf of the German Government).


The passport was pre-printed on a large sheet with the heading of “Passport for German Subject“, embossed with the Swiss Legation to the US red seal and clearly indicating that it was issued by the department in charge of German interests.


The passport was used to travel back to Germany, transiting via Holland (visa obtained at the Dutch consulate in Philadelphia on November 5th) close to a month later and arriving to Bentheim on December 3rd (Apparently the Swiss Diplomatic Mission would issue the “first” visa for Germany and once arriving to Holland, the holder would apply for the “proper” entry visa).



Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.



Neil Kaplan
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