First, here's the first page of the passport in full and then a close up on the photos of Elly and Helga. I'll put in a few photo details of visa stamps on subsequent pages as we go along.
|Elly's Polish passport|
The first point to make is that these documents cover only the last 11 months of their journey. The passport is issued to Elly in Toulouse, France, on July 5, 1940, and she will use it until May 23, 1941, when she and Helga enter Miami as legal immigrants.
|Mother and daughter|
So we start in Toulouse. Why Elly receives a passport from the Republic of Poland at first seems mysterious, but we are given a clue. Among her papers is a French translation made in Nice on May 28, 1940 of a 1906 document establishing Hermann Ringel's original domicile in Polish Galicia. We don't know why Hermann needed that document when he was 18 years old, but it appears Elly is using that documentation in 1940 to establish her credentials for the passport.
But got them she did. The passport covers Elly and her daughter Helga. It is good for one year, until July 5, 1941. It is signed by Elly below the ID photos of mother and daughter.
Now we are going to turn the page and follow along carefully the dates and places.
It appears that on the next day, July 12, Elly traveled several hours by train to the nearby city of Perpignan to obtain a transit visit from the consulate of Spain allowing them to pass through Spain on the way to Portugal.
Back in Toulouse on July 16, she prepares for the next phase of her journey, buying train passages for the several legs of the journey. We have the receipt for the first leg to Perpignon that records how much baggage she is bringing--a total of eight pieces at a weight of 206 kg.
|French-Spanish border crossing|
On the Spanish side of the border at La Junquera, there is an entrance stamp from the Spanish Direccion General de Seguridad. There is also an annotation mentioning transit to Portugal and something about Barcelona.
The next two stamps are on July 28 at the Spanish exit port of Valencia de Alcantara and the Portuguese entry port Biera Marvao. There they are stamped out by the Spanish DGS and in by Portugal's PDVE security service.
|Every two weeks|
So they arrive in Lisbon at the end of July. The transit visa is good for only two months, it seems, since they must get approved by the PVDE for a further extension every two weeks, as indeed they do 14 more times until the following April 2.
|Ecuador's immigration visa|
The other stamps from the months in Lisbon are for various travel visas to South American countries and eventually the United States.
On October 4, there is a stamp by Costa Rica for an entrance visa. On October 29, the consulate of Venezuela issues another entrance visa. For whatever reason, these visas don't seem to be good enough, maybe because they are for visitation but not immigration.
|New York transit visa with bond notation|
Anyway, this seems to be the needed credential because now things start moving quickly. On March 3, the Polish embassy in Lisbon extends the Polish passport for another year, to July 5, 1942.
On March 31, they obtain a transit visa from the United States consul in Lisbon, and also pay for their exist visa from Portugal.
|Cuban transit visa|
We know from other sources how Helga stays behind at immigration while Elly goes to New York and manages to find an American Ringel to claim a family relationship. There must have been a notarized letter about that, but unfortunately we don't have that documentation.
|Legal immigration to U.S.|
Two days later, on May 23, 1941, they enter the United States through the port of Miami, stamped in as full legal immigrants by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Their flight from Nazi oppression is finally over and their new life in America has begun.