Here we are cataloging documents from those who emigrated from Europe. If your family has archives of photos or stories from living in Europe or from emigration, and you would like to share them, we welcome your contributions.
Here are a number of travel documents collected from individuals who fled the Nazi regime in Germany, Poland, or Austria. Oftentimes, the information in these documents alone tells a vivid story.
Michael & Ryssel Grün, Austria
Work and School Documents:
It is clear from these documents that Michael was born in Tarnopol, Poland. However prior to "Anschluss", Michael lived in the city of Vienna, Austria. He was a student at the University of Vienna in 1923, as indicated by his messagebook. It appears that Michael was a law or juridical student. As indicated by his later ID cards, he became a faculty member of the university by 1931. The final document here is an interesting one: the granting of "Listener's Rights" to Michael, indicating that he is legally entitled to expressing his legal opinion for the purpose of education. Such a concept is fairly alien to modern societies, particularly in the United States. This document seems to indicate Michael finished his education in 1923.
Michael's passport has a number of interesting features. Firstly, it is worth noting that we only have access to his German passport--which must have been assigned to Michael (as an Austrian) after Anschluss. On the front page is significant handwritten information, indicating that he had reapplied for a married couples' passport (shown below). We can also see the large red "J", indicating Michael's travel restrictions, as a Jew.
The two letters shown above, first from Michael himself, indicate that Michael was deported to Dachau concentration camp sometime in 1938. The second letter - written from the administration of Dachau - indicates that Michael was released from the camp in January 1939. We can see that, shortly after in February 1939, Michael is registering with the police in Vienna. Only a week after this, Michael would apply for a visa to Shanghai at the Chinese consulate. Interestingly enough, however, the next page shows us an immigrant identification stamp (dated April 1940) for Michael, from the US consulate in Antwerp. It begs the question: what happened to Michael Grün between February 1939 and April 1940?
Here we see a passport shared between Michael and his wife, Ryssel. The opening page of their passport also indicates that they have individual passports (the number '91043' corresponding to Michael's passport).
In the early pages we see much of the same information, however the visas indicate that in 1939, the couple traveled from Vienna to Köln via air, before getting visas to Belgium in March 1939. This fills in some of the missing timeline of Michael's story. Perhaps they stayed in Brussels from March 1939 until their eventual emigration in 1940. The mystery remains unsolved, but what is known is that Michael and Ryssel successfully arrived in the United States in 1940.
Georg & Erva Zerkowitz, Austria
Georg & Erva were both born in Vienna. Just like Michael & Ryssel (above), they were assigned Nazi passports after Anschluss. Their passports also included the red J, a rule implemented October 5, 1938. There were severe punishments for any Jews using passports without the red J.
Both passports paint the same story. Registered with the Vienna police in 1938, by early 1939 they have applied for a visa in Monaco. By March 1939 they are traveling on the Tarvisio-Ferrovia trainline across the alps into Italy. By May 1939, they had arrived in Monaco. Their journey from there onward remains shrouded in history.
Chaja Banner, Poland
Chaja's passport, registered in 1936, indicates that her efforts to emigrate to Palestine had already begun by that year. She is certified by an emigration inspector in March 1936, with a departure stamp dated for the same month. The British passport control in Warsaw granted her a one-way visa to Palestine on March 4, 1936, indicating her application was sent in 1935. Upon her arrival, she is granted a visa extension until March 1937. We can see another is granted in February 1937, lasting until the following year. The yearly extensions continue until 1940. It is assumed she was granted citizenship around that time.
Josef & Suria Fischhof, Austria
Unlike the other Austrians in this page, Josef & Süria's passport was issued in 1933, long prior to Anschluss. Josef was born in Vienna, was Süria was born in the countryside. The visa section contains numerous stamps indicating travel through Mistelbach district. The stamps change to indicate Nazi authority in 1938. The final page indicates numerous withdrawals in 1938 from a bank in Köln. The fate of Josef and Süria from 1939 onward is not known.
Research done by Tyler Brandt.