By Janet Klug
On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, thus initiating the first European campaign in World War II.
Two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany.
On Sept. 17, under the secret provisions of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. By Oct. 6, 1939, Poland was defeated and its territory was parceled out between Germany, the Soviet Union, Slovakia and Lithuania.
On June 21, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, quickly recouping the parts of Poland that it had encouraged the Soviets to occupy in 1939.
The part of Poland that had belonged to Germany before World War I was absorbed directly into Germany. The remaining south central part of Poland, including Warsaw and Krakow, was occupied under the name General Gouvernement and divided into military districts with civil and military administrators. Its governor general, Hans Franck, played a leading role in the Holocaust and was one of the high-ranking Nazis convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Nuremberg trials. He was hanged Oct. 16, 1946.
The first occupation stamps issued Dec. 1, 1939, were German President Paul von Hindenburg definitive stamps surcharged in Polish currency and overprinted "Deutsche Post Osten" (German Post East). A 2-zloty-on-100-pfennig occupation stamp (Poland Scott N29) from this set is shown in Figure 1.
These were followed in March 1940 by Polish stamps of the 1937-39 issue heavily overprinted by "General Gouvernement" and the eagle clutching wreathed swastika symbol of Nazi Germany. A 30-groszy-on-30g occupation stamp (Scott N41) is shown in Figure 2.
Stamps specifically designed and printed for the General Gouvernement were first issued in August 1940. This series featured buildings and monuments of Krakow, Lublin and Warsaw. A 50g Court House in Krakow occupation stamp (Scott N68) is shown in Figure 3.
Thereafter, a flood of new stamps was released. Many were semipostals, most of which were issued to raise funds in support of German war efforts. The design of the 50g+50g semipostal stamp (Scott NB11) shown in Figure 4 depicts a German peasant kitted out for wintery weather. The stamp is inscribed "Winterhilfs-werk" (winter relief).
By October 1941, Adolf Hitler's portrait found its way onto General Gouvernement stamps. Figure 5 shows a 40g Adolf Hitler stamp (Scott N86) issued in 1941.
Like other occupation stamps, these appear after the regular postage stamp listings in what is called the back-of-the-book section of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue.
After the war, Poland had the misfortune to be liberated from the Germans by the other half of the team that dismembered it in 1939. To keep their territorial acquisitions from 1939, the Soviets redrew the map of Poland, shifting its borders 100 kilometers to the west at the expense of Germany. Populations were relocated in accordance with the new borders.
Many countries were occupied by the Axis powers during WWII. Abandoned by its faithless allies, Britain and France, at the Munich Conference of 1938 and facing invasion and annihilation, Czechoslovakia capitulated to Germany without a fight. On March 14, 1939, the Slovakian part of the country declared its independence from Prague and became a German satellite. On March 15, 1939, the Czech part of Czechoslovakia became the German protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
Like the occupation stamps of Poland, the stamps of Bohemia and Moravia appear in the back of the book following the listings for regular postage stamps, but unlike the occupation stamps of Poland, their catalog numbers are not prefixed with the letter "N."
The first Bohemia and Moravia stamps were Czechoslovakian stamps with the country name inscription obliterated and overprinted "Bohmen u. Mahren" and "Cechy a Morava." Thereafter, the German protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia had its own stamps, beginning with a set of eight Linden Leaves and Closed Buds stamps issued in 1940. The 5-haleru stamp from the set (Czechoslovakia—Bohemia and Moravia Scott 20) is shown in Figure 6.
Hitler was also portrayed on stamps of Bohemia and Moravia. Figure 7 shows a 1.20-koruna+80h Adolf Hitler semipostal stamp (Scott B11) issued in 1942 to honor Hitler's 53rd birthday and raise funds for the war effort.
Because Slovakia was not occupied by Germany, its stamps issued from 1939 to 1945 are not listed as occupation stamps in the Scott standard catalog, but are listed under Slovakia, ahead of stamps issued after Slovakia regained its independence on Jan. 1, 1993.
Shown in Figure 8 is a Slovakian 50-halierov+50h Medical Corpsman and Wounded Soldier semipostal stamp (Slovakia Scott B2) issued in 1941.
WWII was by any measure one of the most disastrous events in human history. From 1939 to 1945, most of the world was at war. All war did not end in 1945. Nations still invade and occupy other nations. Some countries have been occupied more than once and by more than one country’s military forces. Collecting the stamps from the occupations is a peaceable way to learn about and remember the devastating effects of war.
July 23, 2015 04:35 PMThe Tieton, Wash., post office is a simple 1935 cement block building with a slat wood facade. Townsfolk in the agricultural community of 1,200 in central Washington believe the post office could become a landmark, if only the United States Postal Service would allow them to cover the front with a stamp-like mosaic. Read More ›
July 23, 2015 03:11 PMThe American Philatelic Society will host the nation’s largest annual stamp exhibition Aug. 20-23. The show will take place at the DeVos Place Convention Center, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, Mich. Read More ›
July 21, 2015 01:00 PMLinn’s Washington Correspondent Bill McAllister recently reported that the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service has taken the nation’s mail agency to task for intentionally creating 100 upright $2 Jenny Invert panes. Read More ›
July 19, 2015 07:23 PMHere in Sidney, Ohio, when the hot, sultry days of summer are upon us, the Scott catalog editors begin to feel the heat of deadlines for the two Scott specialized catalogs. Read More ›
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz discusses the largest souvenir card produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The card is one of three issued to honor the centenary of San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke discusses Canada’s recently recalled $1.20 Dinosaur Provincial Park stamps featuring inaccurately described Hoodoo rock formations.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the discovery of another pane of the intentionally created upright variety of the $2 Jenny Invert stamp.
Chad Snee discusses the recent sale of the glass locket containing the famed 1918 Jenny Invert airmail error stamp.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.