Authors

Object ID

2022.1.17

Object Name

Passport

Date

4-23-1905

Files

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Description

32 page Greek passport with photograph of female adhered to top left of page 3, multiple hand stamps throughout.

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:

Greek passport of a 27-year-old Jewish woman, Berta Gershon Levy, issued in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1939. Berta and her parents were unwilling or unable to return home to Athens, Greece due to the advent of WW2 and preparations made by Greece in advance of the Italian-Greek war. Clearly the Levy family were desperate to flee Europe and abandoned any hope of returning to their home in Athens. They chose to emigrate to the United States by way of the Soviet Union and Japan. Accordingly, they obtained immigrant-status visas issued by vice-consul Rudolph Heftl, thereby permitting them to obtain the requisite transit visas to reach the United Sates by a longer, more complicated and more taxing eastern route through the Soviet Union and Japan: the only option open to them given the danger at this time of Allied or “neutral” ships traversing the Mediterranean. Berta and her family obtained a Japanese transit visa issued on November 5th and signed by Hachiya Teruo, who was at this time the Japanese ambassador to Bulgaria. Lest there be questions concerning the Levy’s arrival in Japan, such as the possible concern that they would be a financial burden, the Japanese visa contained a written statement (page 16) that Berta is a destitute Jew but will receive aid and assistance from the Jewish community in Japan during the time she remains there. Finally, Soviet transit visas are issued on November 15, all indicating optional points of entry at Odessa or Kherson, and departure at Vladivostok. Berta and family arrived in Odessa on November 19, 1940, reaching Japan December 5 at Fukui Prefecture. They came to Vancouver, Canada on December 23,1940 and from there entered the United States via the Canadian border.

Dimensions

6 1/4 x 4 1/4"

Keywords

Berta Gershon Levy, Hachiya Teruo

Subcollection

Diplomats

Japanese Ambassador Helps Greek Jewish Woman and Parents Attempting to Flee Europe and Emigrate to United States

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