Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Elly's passport

A couple of days ago, Walter posted about HIAS and Helga and Elly's arrival in New York. He mentioned a scrap of paper with a birth date and birth place, and he surmised these would have been taken from Elly's false Polish passport.

We have that passport among our artifacts, and Walter is precisely correct about Katowice and the July 3, 1900 date--the place is fictitious but the date is accurate. Actually, there is a discrepancy regarding Elly's birth year in the two official death records that are accessible through The Social Security Death Record has her date of birth as July 3, 1900, but the State of California death record has it as July 3, 1901. We agree that 1900 is correct, right?

Here's an image from the passpost, followed by a closeup of the passport photos.


  1. From everything I remember from childhood, Selma was born in 1899 and Elly in 1900. As you know, one of my few talents (unfortuantely not terribly marketable) is a facility for dates and square miles.

  2. Good, I need to fix it in the family tree. Notice that fan chart for Joanne has the wrong date. I wonder is Zach Rehm knows that he shares a birthday with his great-grandmother.

  3. Dear Sir,

    I'm a researcher for the Sousa Mendes Foundation (Honoring the Portuguese Consul Aristides de Sousa Mendes who, against strict orders, issued Portuguese transit visas to thousands of refugees in May and June of 1940.

    We are currently looking for families of these visa recipients and I came across your blog while doing a research on the Quanza (many passengers on the Quanza had received visas from the Consul).

    I read your family member’s account of their time in France and their escape through Spain to Portugal and noticed that they might have been in Bordeaux at some period of time and that they crossed the border at Hendaye.

    We are looking for people who received a transit visa to Portugal either in Bordeaux, Bayonne, Toulouse or Hendaye in the months of May/June 1940. Would you be so kind as to take a look in the passport in your possession for such a visa ?
    It should normally be a visa granted for 30 days, signed either by Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Emile Gissot, José Seabra or Faria Machado (these 3 individuals being ordered by Sousa Mendes to grant visas to anyone who would ask for one).

    This is the project we are working on
    We have identified around 3.000 names and have already located many families. Unfortunately most of those granted visas were not aware of the unauthorized action of the Consul and we only have a fragmentary list to work from. This is why we are looking for any person who might have crossed the border in these months of May and June.

    My email is
    Please feel free to contact me. I’m really grateful for any help you could provide.



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