Internal Passports Issued in Birzai 1917-1941 #general

William Yoffee

The Panevezys District Research Group (PDRG) is posting a listing of 2739
internal passports that were issued in Birzai between WW1 and WW2. This is
the second of a series that began with the posting of 12700 internal
passports issued in Panevezys town during the same period. Both listings
appear as spread sheets in the Excel format under the title "Internal
Passports" in the "Links to other pages" section at the top of the left hand
column of the PDRG Shutterfly website. These data were produced and
translated by the Internal Passport Project of LitvakSIG coordinated by
Howard Margol. A discussion of the Lithuanian Internal Passport Project
including history and illustrations of documents can be found at ,
authored by Howard Margol, updated to March 2012,. The Excel spread sheets
provide information where the actual files are located.

During the period 1919-1940 when Lithuania first was an independent country,
every Lithuanian citizen age 17 or older was required to have an internal
passport, for identification but not valid for international travel. In the
beginning of the 1920s, all adult citizens, regardless of age, in order to
obtain an internal passport had to prove their right to Lithuanian
citizenship by producing evidence that they were residents of the territory
of Lithuania before WW1. Later, internal passports were issued to young
people coming of age, women when they changed their surnames after marriage,
when old passport were lost and other similar reasons. Some internal
passports were issued in Birzai even after the Soviet takeover in mid-1940
and as late as March and June 1941.

The surnames of the passport holders listed in column c) of the spread sheet
are according to their Lithuanian surnames with the Jewish surnames
following in brackets [ ].* The passport numbers in column b) indicate that
generally one passport was issued to a family, although in some cases
separate passports were issued to some family members. This is confirmed by
the family registration number in column a) which is the same for each
member of a family. Individuals and their relationship to the head of a
household can be identified by given name and patronymic in columns e), f),
and g). Ages of individuals are noted in column h), as a general rule, by
stating the age in the year the internal passport was issued or by stating
the year of birth which was before the earliest year that internal passports
were first issued. There are a few exceptions and a few cases where the age
has been omitted. Birth places are listed in column i) for only slightly
more than half of the individuals, most of whom were born in Birzai or other
Districts of Lithuania. A significant number were born in Russia,
Belorussia, Latvia and what became Poland. All but a few list their current
address simply as Birzai or a street address in Birzai. Several list other
Lithuanian towns. In column u), less than 1000 persons listed their
occupations, which included a number of housewives and both male and female
students. The "Comments" column v) notes information about the status of a
number of women on the list, including dates of marriage, and the existence
of supporting identity documents such as foreign passports contained in an
individual's file.

These data can be useful for genealogical research even in cases where a
researcher's family emigrated or was exiled before the end of WW1. Their
most significant value, however, is to trace those families who remained in
the Panevezys District but who became victims of the Holocaust. For those
families whose members were exiled to the interior parts of Russia during
WW1, some data might provide evidence of the location of the exile and
traces their return to what became the independent state of Lithuania. For
those families whose members emigrated before WW1, the data may provide some
indication of family members who remained behind and evidence of the
emigrant's place of origin.

For further information about the Internal Passport Project, please contact
Howard Margol .

For futher information about membership in the Panevezys District Research
Group, please contact me at the email address below.

*Lists of the Jewish surnames for either or both the Panevezys town and the
Birzai Internal Passport holders on the posted Excel spreadsheets are now
available to *anyone* on request to me at the email address below.

Bill Yoffee
Panevezys District Research Coordinator

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