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Agents Report Mounting Difficulties for American Jews Seeking to Visit Poland

April 4, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A round-up of several leading tour operators and travel agencies here today confirmed reports current In the travel industry that the Polish Government is denying visas to certain naturalized U.S. citizens or, at least, is making them difficult to obtain. Most of the tour operators queried by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency indicated that the greatest difficulties were experienced by American Jews of Polish origin. This was supported by a story in the April 2 edition of Travel Weekly, the country’s leading travel trade periodical, which said that “the exclusion reportedly focussed on applicants of the Jewish faith who were born in or resided in Poland and who emigrated before the end of World War II.” The Travel Weekly story noted that while visa application forms contain no questions bearing on religion, “the trade view was that an obviously Jewish name might cause problems.”

All of the travel agents contacted by JTA asked that their names not be mentioned. Several flatly refused to give any information. But one leading tour operator with a large Jewish clientele read a letter from a consular official at the Polish Embassy in Washington pertaining to an application for a six-day tourist visa on behalf of a client with a recognizeably Jewish name. The letter read in part: “Since the above has emigrated from Poland in 1946, it is possible that she still holds Polish citizenship and in this case we cannot issue a visa. The Setter went on to request copies of the “documents under which the applicant left Poland,” and aberration as to “the circumstances of her immigration,” and when she obtained U.S. citizenship. This operator said he was advising Jewish clients to omit Poland from their itineraries.

An official of one of New York’s largest travel bureaus told JTA that be had recently noticed certain difficulties in obtaining visitors visa for Poland for both Jewish and non-Jewish clients. He said there had been no outright rejections had normal delays and complicated forms to fill out in the cases of Americans of Polish origin. He attributed this to what he said was a Polish law requiring that former nationals of that country give up their Polish citizenship in order to be eligible for a visa. He said that the difficulties were encountered only when visitors visas were sought, mostly by people wishing to visit relatives in Poland, and in that category there are more Gentiles than Jews. He said that there was no problem obtaining a tourist visa.

A spokesman for a tour operator that owned large business. with travellers to Poland said that recently “It has been a bit tougher for Jews to get visas. He said he was encountering “bureaucratic and legal obstacles” that were not so obvious in the past and that the process was much slower than It had been.

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