Unique Soviet travel document
Issued in 1944 at Algeria.
Travel documents being issued at times of war and conflict are different to those being issued during times of peace. Political and location aspects of issued samples play a major role and at times such papers are limited to a specific area or period of time, making them highly exceptional and rare, thus very attractive to historians and us collectors as well.
During WW2, many areas changed hands and control was changed at times more than once. This happened to be the case, for example, in Eastern Europe and even in North Africa, the location of some of the most famous desert campaigns of the war.
The North African Campaign started favorably for the Axis powers, with some significant gains during the first years, but, as history shows us, at the end the Allies pushed the famed Afrika Korps out, with a final stand in Tunisia that ended during the first half of 1943. The Germans, led by Erwin Rommel, where supported by their Italian allies and the conflict took place from June 10th 1940 to May 13th 1943.
The fighting took place in the Egyptian and Libyan deserts, in what is widely known as the Western Desert Campaign, Morocco and Algeria and ending with Tunisia (during 1942 there was even fear that the German army would overrun Egypt and thus panic even struck British Palestine: the Jewish community was even talking about a possible “Second Masada“, some sort of a last stand against the would-be invading Axis armies; but luckily, this scenario did not materialize).
After the fateful events of 1942-1943, after the Battles of Stalingrad and El Alamein, it was clear to all sides that the tide of war has shifted favorably for the Allies.
The document in this article relates to the North African campaign, or to its aftermath.
Rare, and most likely unique, travel Identity Document number 5 was issued to Adolf Lemke, aged 40 from Hamburg, by the special Soviet Representative to Free France (renamed France combattante in 1942), in North Africa (an interesting point that needs to be mentioned here, is that the Soviet Union and France cut off diplomatic ties in 1941, or with Vichy France on June 30th of that year, after the their support of operation Barbarossa).
The travel document was clearly issued for the specific use of RETUNRING to the USSR. It also indicates inside that the former German WAS a Soviet citizen.
The document was issued at the diplomatic legation in Algeria on August 2 1944. It was issued by special diplomatic representative legation head, the “ambassador”, Alexander Guzowska (Intelligence colonel at the time), who was sent to Algeria already in 1943 as the “Soviet Repatriation Commission” head, but this was the guise for his covert NKGB posting and also the first attempt by Moscow to re-establish diplomatic relations with Charles de Gaulle’s interim French government on “free French soil”; he was also the first NKGB resident in Paris after the liberation of the city, from September 1944 to 1946, acting as senior officer and advisor to the ambassador at the embassy as well.
During the period the travel document was used, only military flights took place, and most likely the holder boarded a plane taking him to Paris and from there east to Soviet territory. The document is marked with arrival stamp from Baku (Баку), entry dating for October 11th.
I have added images of this unique and rare WW2 travel document.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.