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Tom Topol, Expert on Passports & Their History

Passport-Collector.com – The only source for historical travel documents
Member of the Ephemera Society of UK and Ephemera Society of USA
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Under Swiss Protection - Jewish Eyewitness Accounts from Wartime
Budapest. Carl Lutz's diplomatic wartime rescue efforts in Budapest is the
topic of this book of 400 pages. Written by Agnes Hirschi (Stepdaughter of
Carl Lutz) and Charlotte Schalliè (Associate Professor in Germanic Studies
at UVic). The book covers 36 stories/testimonies of survivors, which
includes the one of Agnes Hirschi as well. ​"The man who changed my
life​"​ is her story.

 
 
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As an expert on passports and their history, protection letters/passes were
always included in my research. I own and have seen many such
documents from righteous diplomats, not only those issued by Carls Lutz
but also such from Born, Langlet, Rotta, Wallenberg etc. The interested
document collector will learn about these documents more in detail, which
indeed was a "life-saving paper" in German occupied Budapest in 1944.

"The movement began to provide us with false documents" ​says the
testimony of Mordechai Laszlo Kremer, which is for me very interesting, as
he describes his experience when he visited the office of the movement,
where they issued fake documents. Mordechai had also one personal
connection with Lutz in 1970. Lutz wrote a letter to him stating:

"...I feel sorry that I could not save more of my fellow beings, but it was a
most dangerous and difficult task to negotiate with SS Eichmann as I did
and with the Hungarian Nyilas government, as I did and successfully."

The chapter ​"Context and Milestones of the Rescue Activities of Carl
Lutz and His Team" gives a comprehensive overview of neutral powers
involved in issuing protective documents in Budapest, including the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Holy See, Spain,
Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland. Turkey had also a legation in Budapest,
but played only a minor role. It had no safe houses, for instance.

"Every moment, every slip of paper meant human life"
- David Gur, Ramat Gan (Israel) -

David Gur, born Endre Gròsz joined Hashomer Hatzair Zionist Youth
Movement in Budapest. He was recruited to the "Workshop team". His
testimony is most interesting as we learn about the underground production
of forged documents in more details.

 
 
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"Diplomats are not expected to be heroes taking risks"
- Michael Vertes, Weston, CT (USA) -

Above statement is absolutely correct. That a Swiss diplomat in a foreign
country, occupied by Nazi Germany takes a stand for humanity by risking
his own life, not once but several times was outstanding brave! Michael
Vertes was then eight years old and then known as Miklos Weisz. "I did not
personally meet Carl Lutz, but I was a beneficiary of his rescue efforts and I
am forever grateful to him".

Some of the survivors still have their protection letter and so does Michael.
Another testimony comes from Englishman Prof.Geoffrey Leonard Tier who
also wrote a letter to Lutz in May 1945. As Chief of the Department of
Foreign Interests of the Swiss legation, Lutz represented the interests also
of the U.S., Great Britain and twelve other countries that had severed
formal relations with Hungary because of its alliance with Nazi Germany.
Tier wrote:

 
 
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"My dear Mr. Lutz, it is a difficult matter for me adequately
to express the debt of gratitude which my wife and I owe
you and to Mrs. Lutz for the kindness shown to us during
the time you have been good enough to shelter us"
- Prof. Geoffrey Leonard Tier, Budapest 1945 -

Tier and his wife received a spot in the basement at Lutz's residence in Jan
1945 - where around 30 people were staying at the time. The Tiers
remained there until the liberation of Buda in mid-Feb 1945.

If you want to learn more about Carl Lutz and those he saved with his
rescue actions from 1942 to 1944 by issuing protection letters/passes and
establishing several safe houses for those in need, then I truly recommend
you this book which is also available in a Kindle version.

Carl Lutz was indeed a "forgotten hero" but books like this will refresh his
history and will bring his brave actions back on the surface. He will not be
forgotten anymore! Well done!

 
 
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The life-saving documents

Letter of Protection (Schutzbrief)
Lutz drew the document up on his own initiative, which was legally and diplomatically on shaky
grounds, they stated - on the letterhead of the Swiss Embassy in Budapest and carrying its
stamp (but no signature) - that the bearer stands under the protection of the Swiss
Confederation for a later departure for Palestine. These personalized Letters of Protection were
carried by its bearers and presented in case of controls and raids. In such situations this
document was of live saving importance. The Swiss Letter of Protection was later copied by
other countries and individuals and became immediately some of the most desired documents
in the Hungarian capital, a straw to cling to for survival. Nowadays these documents are rare to
find.

Weisz Hermann, Swiss Schutzpass 1372/xx 1944

 
 
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Collective Passport (Kollektiv-Pass)
Each person was registered twice, in the above Letter of Protection and then in this Collective
Passport - an invention by Lutz for which he will later reprimanded by his superiors in Bern.
Collective passports are thick binders, each containing the personal information and photos of
one thousand persons. When eight of this binders are full and thus the number of 8000, as
agreed upon with the Nazis, is reached, Lutz and his co-workers simply start over with another
binder number 1. Two Collective Passports are in the Swiss Federal Archive.

Schutzpass No.1

Protective Passport (Schutzpass)

 
 
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From 1942 onward, Lutz and his staff, about 20 strong, issued 300 to 400 protective passports
to US and British citizens, both Jews and non-Jews, and subsequently distributed 1000 such
papers to Yugoslav citizens. Very rare to find nowadays!

Schutzpass (protective passport) No.48 to KARDOSS JOSEPH

Comment: Researching this topic for 15+ years I never saw a protective passport issued to 
Yugoslav citizen myself, but I had/have 2-3 of US and British citizens.

 
 
Under Swiss Protection - Jewish Eyewitness Accounts from Wartime Budapest