Escaping Odessa – 1919 passport - Our Passports
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  • Pinhas Pierre Rutenberg 1919 Odessa passport
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  • French allied visa for Rotenberg - Odessa 1919
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  • 1919 defense member Odessa
  • Pinhas Rutenberg Mandate ID

Escaping Odessa – 1919 passport

Commandement des Troupes alliées à Odessa – Le Général Commandant.

A stunning connection to current events in Europe…a passport issued back in 1919 and used to escape Odessa, a city that was under occupation and ravaged by conflict and unrest…


Issued on March 17, 1919 by the White Government sponsored by the French, to engineer Pinhas Rutenberg, who was an acting member of the Defense Committee at the time.  During the end of 1918 to the first half of the following year, the French Allied army was controlling the port city of Odessa, trying to support the old regime that was collapsing and preventing the Soviets from overrunning the city. They took control of the city from the German and Austro-Hungarian forces that ended the short-lived Odessa Soviet Republic that existed for about 2 months from January to March of 1918.


Mr. Routenberg obtained the passport for himself and 10 other people; this is indicated by the American consul at time, William L. Jenkins annotations, stating that he is permitted to embark on an American ship. The consul arrived shortly before this visa was given, on March 10, but he remained only for just over a month, leaving on April 22nd to Tiflis.


The most interesting visa in this special Allied Forces related passport was the French forces visa: On April 5th the commanding army issued him a visa to leave Odessa, as being a member of the defense committee of the city; they also attached an official certificate stating this and signed personally by General Anselme, commanding the French 1st Divisional Group, commander of allied forces to Odessa. The French applied hand stamp reads:    “Commandement des Troupes alliées à Odessa – Le Général Commandant”.


Later, arriving to Constantinople, where he stayed briefly until his departure to France on May 12th, and exit visa issued by the Inter-Allied control Bureau of the city. During the period of November 13, 1918 to September 23, 1923, the city was occupied by the French, British and Italian forces. He embarked on a ship to Marseille on May 15th, arriving on the 23rd.


On August he obtained the visa for the United Kingdom from the presumably White Russian consulate in Paris, French permits dating from the end of August as well where applied to the passport, and after obtaining  the British visa on September 24th, he left the next day entering at Folkestone. On October 6th he obtained the military permit to enter occupied British Palestine, under military authority until 1920. After transiting through Boulogne, via French visa of transit from October 13th from their consulate in London, and through Alexandria on November 5th, he arrived in Jaffa port.


Mr. Routenberg ended becoming a leading entrepreneur and business man in Palestine: building the first electrical power plant up north and other important projects in the 1920’s. He passed away in Haifa in 1942.




Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.

Neil Kaplan
  • Dave Oren

    Thanks Neil !
    An excellent article !! Now I have something else to add about the Nahariim power plant as we drive past it on our way for the summer in the North of Israel !

    November 26, 2015 at 9:12 am

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