Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Belloq's Passport

Dr. René Belloq is a highlight of "Raiders of the Lost Ark". He's the kind of intelligent, ruthless, and charming villain that's all too rare in film. Toy and Prop Masters brings us this conjectural recreation of his German passport, complete with period stamps, transit notations, and a plethora of inserts based on the search for the "Well of Souls".


Jason McKittrick said...

This prop just made my day! Excellent piece.

CoastConFan said...

That’s a really good paper prop. There are some excellent examples on the web of documents of the WWII era. The Germans loved paperwork and they documented everything, which helped the Allies when it came time for the post war trials. Everybody had to have identity papers and to be outside your house without them was an offense that could land you in jail. It wasn’t just a stereotype about the policeman or border patrol officer demanding, “Papers, please” at every turn.

BTW, the Soviet Union was big on identity papers as well and every movement outside of your local area was questioned and monitored. It required a document to allow you to travel to the next city. BTW, in the movie Casablanca, the much sought after, “Transit Visa” didn’t exist outside of the film, but it was a great McGuffin nonetheless. Below are a few original documents that you prop makers might enjoy modifying.

A copy of an Arbeitsbuch, German worker’s book for German nationals http://www.johnnyg.westhost.com/gd315.html a Wikipedia article about Employment record books https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment_record_book and http://www.usmbooks.com/arbeitsbuch_foreigner.html

German work’s book had a red cover, but the one for foreign workers would have a dark green cover. They were also employed for “guest workers” e.g. forced labor: Arbeitsbuch fur Auslander http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=104052

Wikipedia article about forced labor https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_labour_under_German_rule_during_World_War_II

Organisationsbuch der NSDAP, National Socialist German Work’s Party Organization Book https://archive.org/details/1937NationalSocialistGermanWorkersPartyOrganizationBook

Reproduction of German soldier’s pay book and ID (Soldbuch) are commonly available very cheaply on line. They were a combination of an ID book and pay book so the soldier could be paid anyplace they were sent. It was an all-important document for a soldier. Here’s one for a Waffen SS soldier. http://www.ima-usa.com/german-wwii-army-soldier-identity-payment-book-soldbuch-slipcase.html Here’s a good article about the uses of the Soldbuch: http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/documents/soldbuch.htm

Potential military conscripts were issued a Wehrpass when they came of age and were registered. Once they became soldiers their Wehrpass was taken and they were issued a Soldbuch. Once enlistment was over the Wehrpass was returned, with additional annotations about military service completed. He was then required to have it on his person until he turned 60. Article about Wehrpass http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/documents/wehrpass.htm

This only scratches the surface for prop makers, but there are tons of information out there and there are a lot of inexpensive, blank reproductions created for reenactors. From these you can put together a prop package for your next RPG. A dropped identity book could lead player characters down the Rabbit’s Hole of a scenario. Document collectors are a gold mine of information about documents of WWII. http://www.thirdreichmedals.com/wehrpass.html

gndn said...

That's neat, and pretty well done, too. I'd love to know if he used any of my passport stamps. I've often fantasized about making a passport for Indiana Jones or Francis Wayland Thurston.

-Mike J.

Laurent said...

That's interesting but Belloq was French and thus should have a French passport :)

Anonymous said...

One thing I'm curious about - if I can make out the Sütterlin letters correctly, it would say "Arzt der Archäologie" as his occupation("Beruf")
Which, if I am not all mistaken would be wrong, as an Arzt is a doctor in the sense of medical practitioner, whereas Belloq would have an academical doctor's degree, which would be "Dr." or "Doktor"... Any idea?

CoastConFan said...

Well yes, it’s a Weimar Republic eagle on the cover, which was official from the end of WWI through 1933. It’s quite similar to the post WWII federal eagle, “Bundsadler” which was introduced in 1950. To get a little closer to the point, he Weimar Republic very briefly continued to use the crowned imperial eagle “Reichsadler” until new documents could be printed or the old stock was exhausted, which took some time with the economic and social chaos just after WWI. I have had an early Weimar identity book from 1923 that still had imperial crown over the eagle, but struck out with a pen. I’m sure the NSDAP controlled period saw a total phase out of the earlier Weimar eagle, substituting the 3rd Reich NSDAP eagle used from 1935 to 1945 that we see in film. There is a very brief period that the 3rd Reich continued to use the Weimar flag and the eagle on documents.

So yes, his book might have had the NSDAP Reichsadler at the time the film takes and it should have probably been an 3rd Reich eagle since the interior stamps are clearly early NSDAP at the time of issue. However view photo and note the discrete card covering the exact date of issue however, 21 May 193X. One could argue this is a holdover use of Weimar paper during the brief time before all books were converted over. The Last Crusade is a bit fuzzy as to when exactly it occurs and historical accuracy has never been a strong point in these films. But taking into account that Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in 1936 and Last Crusade is 1938 according to articles, the obsolete book just might be inconsistent, but what the heck, it’s entertainment.

Incidentally, I saw Last Crusade when it premiered in Germany (in English) in a German cinema downtown surrounded by Germans. The schmaltzy, comic book, WWII propaganda was uncomfortable in this setting. You didn’t need to tell the West Germans the NAZIs were bad. They still had the East Germans carrying on the torch of a fascist (calling themselves socialist) dictatorship. In W Germany there was a total ban on displaying the NAZI eagle, even as an artifact at a flea market, so I have to wonder a bit over the legality of showing the film in Germany.

A quick and easy article on the timeline of the German national eagle, although there a lot of information on the web on 3rd Reich documents. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Germany

Anonymous said...

I'd have thought the picture should be b/w not colour to other than that it is very good.