Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Postmarks (3)

In this last post on postmarks I'll show you the remaining nine promoting a wide variety of things. The first three are pre-WW2, the others are all from 1944. In 1944 my country (The Netherlands) was clearly not in good shape anymore. The occupation by the Germans was in its fourth year and the texts reflect certain "problem areas". But first three earlier ones.
July 28, 1932: Nationaal Padvinderskamp Landgoed Oosterbeek
Wassenaar 2-12 augustus 1932
This 1932 postmark refers to a national pathfinders camp in Wassenaar, a city near The Hague.
January 19, 1933: Steun het Nationaal Crisiscomite
"Support the National Crisis Committee" tried to interest the population in aiding primarily tradespeople but also the unemployed and people forced to work in certain projects set up by municipalities.  The Committee existed from 1931 - 1936 and never was a great success. During those years a total 7.5 million guilders was distributed to those in need. And like in other countries, also here the unemployment rates were high, very high. So the financial aid per person was limited.
June 12, 1934: Adresseer volledig
People were encouraged to provide a full address. I wrote about the background of this recommendation earlier.
January 26, 1944: Help onze industrie aan grondstoffen Lever afval in
"Help our industry to obtain raw materials, hand in your waste."  It is unlikely that the collected materials would go to industries benefiting the population. My guess is that most of it went straight to Germany to keep the war industry going. With imports of all commodities coming to a standstill, Germany had to depend on its own resources and on those of the occupied territories. One of the consequences of material shortages was that a large percentage of all church bells and radio's were confiscated as well.
January 28, 1944: Bewaar oud papier Uit oud wordt nieuw
"Save waste paper New is made from old" If you were of the opinion that recycling of paper is a fairly recent thing, you are wrong. Like many things, it has been tried before.
February 3, 1944: Afvalstoffen bewaren Brandstoffen sparen
The idea behind "Save waste, Save fuel" was probably that waste could serve as fuel for industrial purposes. It would then replace existing fuels such as coal. In this way coal could serve as fuel for vital (read: war) industries.
March 18, 1944: Laat voor den Post langs den gehelen bovenkant 4 cm vrij
Apparently it was a wide spread custom to write the address across the whole face of an envelope. Hence the request to "Allow the Mail to use 4 cms along the top". In this manner both the address and the stamp would remain legible. 
September 21, 1944: Frontzorg is eereplicht Stort op giro 106156
A soldier with a German helmet symbolizes Dutch men who collaborated with the Germans by doing military duties, also abroad. The stamp calls for (financial) support of these men: "Front care is a duty of honor, Transfer money to account 106156". I have been unable to find out how much money was collected for this purpose but I cannot imagine the amount was of any significance.  
October 10, 1944: Zand en water zijn bij brandbominslag de beste bluschmiddelen
"Upon impact of a fire bomb, sand and water are the best extinguishers". Although it is not mentioned here, the implication of this message was that these bombs were used against civilians by the RAF and US Air Force, often en route to Germany. This stamp must therefore be regarded as a subtle hint as to who was the real enemy!  

All stamps shown in this series come from envelopes addressed to my father and mother before and during WW2. The January and February 1944 letters are congratulatory letters written on the happy occasion of my birth. All envelopes are still undamaged and so are the letters. I'll write about those another time.


  1. These are just perfect! I do enjoy stamps- always have- and I miss them being important in today's (little mail delivery) but even more interesting are the stamps- which often one can't even read very well- these are great, especially the one with the cart! What a treasure you have! Lovely post Peter, thank you.

  2. Interessant, Peter! Leuk vind ik het ' bewaar oud papier, uit oud wordt nieuw' uit die tijd. Ik werk nl. al vele jaren in de kartonindustrie, die in deze regio ook een lange historie heeft.

  3. @Karen
    I agree with you, some stamps are small pieces of art. However, collecting stamps seems to be a hobby for retired, grey men. At least, that seems to be the case here. Pity!
    Ja, ja strokarton en aardappelmeel uit Oost-Groningen, we leerden het al op de lagere school...

    Thank you both for visiting.

  4. As I read this, I'm trying to imagine what it must have been like to live in an occupied country, to have to train myself to read between the lines when confronting something as innocuous as a postage stamp.

  5. @Wendy
    My recollection of this period is zero but I do know that starvation and oppression are capable of changing society tremendously. Also every intelligent person realized that all "news" as shown in permitted newspapers served a certain purpose and was thus manipulated. So there was much room for the grapevine...

  6. This was a wonderful history of postal minutia, Peter. I enjoyed the complete set. I am continually astonished how during the war there were agencies, dozens if not hundreds of people charged with designing and manufacturing such trivial propaganda. They are a bit like the current fad of Twitter, where messages have a special code or shorthand.

  7. @Mike
    You are right and in this case the sorry thing is that probably these agencies etc. were (also) staffed by the Dutch... Not that I am condemning that because also in those days one needed a job to feed the family. Having a harsh opinion in hindsight is too easy for me.
    Tks for your visit.

  8. Paper recycling during the war ( see 1944 envelope ) I can understand. I went to school in 1947 and paper was still short. First we wrote on a slateboard, then on paper. When the excercise book was full we had to turn it around and fill in the other side of the page, meaning behind each sentence where only a few words had been written. Letters written by my mother were very small print and every cm of the page utilised, even the back of airmail paper. This makes reading very difficult. But after the war one had to go sparingly with all kinds of things, as there just wasn't enough of them to go round.


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