WWII relief workers special passport - Our Passports
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  • WW2 US special passport
  • WW2 US special passport
  • WW2 US special passport for UNRRA official
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WWII relief workers special passport

1944 issued UNRRA travel document for an official.


Special US passport issued to a member of the relief organization six months after its formation.


Here is a fine example of an early relief & assistance travel related document that was issued for travelling to liberated areas for assisting those who were in need of shelter and refuge.


UNRRA was founded in 1943 (becoming part of the UN in 1945) and shut down in 1947 (the IRO was established later on to handle refugee issues following the  end of World War Two). Its main task was to provide all the necessary relief measures that war victims required. Such assistance consisted of clothing, food, shelter and other substantial basic needs that could be provided by the United Nations or any other organization or body that was authorized to do so by the UN. The providing of the above requirements would be achieved by the proper coordinated administration between the UN and other organizations erected for the purpose of relief and assistance for the refugees. Advisory committees were set up at first in order to settle matters connected to health, agriculture, education, welfare and DP issues for areas in East Asia and Europe.


The first areas that could receive such help where not located on the continent, since the war was still raging on and no European country was liberated yet. But refuges where located in northern Africa and the Middle East and that is where the first efforts where coordinated by UNRRA. Refugee camps were located in Egypt, Palestine and Syria for example, which housed thousands who fled from Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece; and the holder of the passport in this article was travelling to those regions controlled by the Allies in 1944.


In the beginning the UN did not issue its first official passports. During the war years it was the United States that issued Special or Diplomatic passports to the officials of the United Nations and UNRRA.


United States special passport 36424 was issued on April 6th 1944 to Gertrude Fry Byron. According to her later post-war IRO related issued passports, we can learn that she was a manger or a high ranking relief official. The passport was used extensively for Egypt, Palestine and later on moving to Greece and then occupied Germany towards 1947.


Her route to the Middle East consisted of transiting through Brazil and east to Accra, then via Northern Africa to Cairo. From there, as the war came closer to an end, she moved into liberated Greece & Italy, working her way up to occupied Germany in the north.


In many ways this passport here is connected to present day events unfolding in front of us in the Middle East and Europe. Once again, we can find the United Nations and other relief organizations contributing to the plight of the needy. It is through the countless efforts and help that the victims, past and present, can find some relief.


I have added sample images of this WW2 UNRRA passport.


Smaller image source: Wikipedia.



Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.

Neil Kaplan
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