Passport, Free State Danzig
Passport, Free State Danzig

This is my grandfather’s passport that was issued in March 1939 in Danzig, which is now Gdansk, Poland. This passport is significant to my family, as it reflects how my grandfather literally and figuratively navigated his way out of Europe on the eve of the Holocaust. He was just 15 years old when he left, and the stamps on his passport show he obtained a visa for travel in July 1939 and immediately left on a train to France. From France, he traveled to Antwerp where he got a Visa for Siam. He left Europe on a boat that sailed around Africa, stopping next in Colombo, Sri Lanka, followed by Bangkok, before completing its journey and arriving in Shanghai in November of 1939. The next stamp in the passport is an entry visa into Israel in 1948, almost nine years after my grandfather arrived in Shanghai. In Israel, my grandfather met my grandmother, and they had my aunt and father before finally immigrating to Canada in the 1960s. My grandfather passed away before I was born, so I never had the opportunity to meet him and hear his stories. The narrative of his hasty exit from Europe and an approximately four-month journey in steerage to an unknown destination revealed by this passport is a testament to my grandfather’s courage and strength. This journey he took ultimately enabled me to be born in Canada, almost exactly 60 years after his passport was issued. Piecing together the stamps on this passport to understand my grandfather’s journey led me to develop a connection to my grandfather and feel his legacy of resilience and hope.

Place(s): Danzig, Marseilles, Antwerp, Colombo, Bangkok, Shanghai, Israel
Year: 1939

– Sophie Visscher-Lubinizki

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant