Monday, November 21, 2016

Hitler baby, one more time!

What up stamp fam? Today's post may be a bit salty for some of you and I want to preface this entire piece by saying that my usual sarcastic tone may offend some. Apologies in advance and after! On to it, today we are talking about Hitler and more interestingly the Reichspost or German Postal service. Hitler had an interesting albeit dark past and an even darker "coming to power" story but, what interests this blogger is the introduction of propaganda stamps on both sides of the war. We will dive into the world of Hitler and Nazi postage in a moment but first a history lesson: 

According to Wikipedia and common knowledge, "Adolf Hitler was a German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; NSDAP), Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and F├╝hrer ("leader") of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. As dictator of the German Reich, he initiated World War II in Europe with the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and was a central figure of the Holocaust." In other words, Hitler was one hell of a mean dude who didn't like outsiders and a bit of a bully, remind you of anyone? "Hitler was born in Austria, then part of Austria-Hungary, and raised near Linz. He moved to Germany in 1913 and was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War I. He joined the German Workers' Party, the precursor of the NSDAP, in 1919 and became leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923, he attempted a coup in Munich to seize power. The failed coup resulted in Hitler's imprisonment, during which time he dictated the first volume of his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). After his release in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting Pan-Germanism, anti-Semitism, and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda." Once again, any of this sounding awfully similar to anyone else we know today, hmmmm? "Hitler frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as being part of a Jewish conspiracy. By 1933, the Nazi Party was the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, which led to Hitler's appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Following fresh elections won by his coalition, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany, a one-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of National Socialism. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as the injustice of the post-World War I international order dominated by Britain and France. His first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the effective abandonment of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I, and the annexation of territories that were home to millions of ethnic Germans—actions which gave him significant popular support." 

Hitler "directed large-scale rearmament and on 1 September 1939 invaded Poland, resulting in British and French declarations of war on Germany. In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union. By the end of 1941 German forces and the European Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa. Failure to defeat the Soviets and the entry of the United States into the war forced Germany onto the defensive and it suffered a series of escalating defeats. In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Hitler married his long-time lover, Eva Braun. On 30 April 1945, less than two days later, the two killed themselves to avoid capture by the Red Army, and their corpses were burned."

According to Wikipedia, "Under Hitler's leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews and millions of other victims whom he and his followers deemed Untermenschen ("sub-humans") and socially undesirable. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. In addition, 29 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in the European Theatre of World War II. The number of civilians killed during the Second World War was unprecedented in warfare, and constitutes the deadliest conflict in human history."

"During the 'Third Reich' the Reichspost continued to function as a monopoly of the government under the auspices of the Reichspostministerium, and Nazi propaganda took hold and influenced stamp design and policy. The Hitler head stamp became the stamp for common usage, and a large number of semipostal stamps were issued. In the last year before the end of the war the stamp inscription "Deutsches Reich" was changed to "Grossdeutsches Reich" (Greater German Empire). Field post stamps were issued for the military forces starting in 1942. The world's first postal code system was introduced on July 25, 1941 with a two-digit number system. This system was initially used for the packet service and later applied to all mail deliveries. "

To combat the Nazi war machine the American based Office of Strategic Services initiated Operation Cornflakes, a propaganda operation started toward the end of World War II. According to an article written by Josh Tapper, "The goal was simple enough. The O.S.S. would influence German citizens by infiltrating the German postal system, sending them envelopes stuffed with anti-Nazi literature. To get the mail to its final destination, the Allies would blow up German mail trains; in the confusing aftermath, German couriers would pick up and deliver all the loose mail, never really stopping to closely examine the forged stamps that the Allies created." Amazingly, this plan worked and the stamps were mass distributed by the people who swore to defend Nazi Germany. 

According to Josh, "it was too conspicuous to buy scores of ordinary, 12-pfennig German stamps, so the O.S.S. created the Hitler Skull Stamp, a riff on the standard Nazi-era 'Deutsches Reich' or German Empire stamp. Instead of a regal profile of Hitler, the illegal stamp sent a message, depicting Hitler’s head as a sinister skull. Underneath, the words read 'Futsches Reich,' or 'Lost Empire.' The much prized Hitler Skull Stamp is a favorite among Nazi focused Philatelists and if you ever do come across one, watch out for the many forgeries floating around. Who knows, you may come across the genuine article in you stamp travels and if you do, make sure to salute with your middle finger. 

Issued just before the end of the war! 

American Propaganda stamps! 

Regular issue from the Hitler birthday collection. 

"Hitler portrayed on a 40 pfennig stamp from 1944."

Beautiful colours, I mean, for a monster. 

Propaganda forgery at its finest! 

This is an eerie side to one of the most evil men in history...he looks like he could be someone's grandfather. 

I couldn't resist! 

Do you have a favorite weird stamp you want to share? Tell us down below in the comments!

Stay cool, stamp fam!

-Stamp Geek 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Let's get serious!

Hey Stamp fam, 

I would like to be serious for a moment and talk with you about our hobby or rather make a case for why we need to involve our youth more. I know this blog is mostly filled with funny pictures, bad puns and awesome stamp pictures and this post will of course be no exception but I want us all to take a hard look at the future of philately and why it is so important to be inclusive. 

I know, I've harped on about this before but, it appears that some of us are still not listening and that concerns those of us in the community who want to see philately continue to grow. I am not saying that the hobby is dying but, if we don't take any action, the newer generations may not take up the tongs and continue in our places. I can imagine what you are thinking, how on Earth do we compete with today's technology, movies and video games? Well, the answer is simple, don't. Many postal outfits are applying the old "if you can't beat em, join em" adage and are releasing stamps with modern themes. Case in point, the USPS released a series of Harry Potter themed stamps back in November 2013. Just recently in October of this year, according to their website, "celebrated Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary with Forever stamps that depict the iconic DC Comics Super Hero during four eras of comic book history." Now THAT is progress!

But, it isn't just the United States who are getting on board, back in May of this year Canada Post released a set of 50th anniversary Star Trek stamps and collectibles and as a major Trekkie I was very pleased. Just last year in April CP also released a set of stamps depicting Dinosaurs and a sequel in May 2016 with the tag line, "Predator or prey? There’s more than meets the eye in Dinos of Canada stamp sequel." Brilliant. Do you know how CP chose to advertise their newest series? They put in an ad before a movie in Cineplex. Doubly brilliant. Just think how many young people that ad may have reached. Sure, a few of them probably scoffed and said, "chya, like I give a crap about stamps" but maybe a few of the nerdier and in my opinion more awesome children though that stamp collecting looks like it might be fun. 

I'm not saying that every kid will take an interest when there are so many distractions around but, if we never try to involve them then we will never know for sure. Now, enjoy the following photos and my terrible captions below! 

Look at history coming to life! 

Just look at the joy on their faces! It doesn't get any better than this. :) 

Middle school students exploring a stamp exhibit, just look at that engagement!  

Any potterheads out there!? Luna!!! 

Yaaaaaaaaas queen! 

What are you waiting for? Get your children involved today! 

What do you think? Leave your comment below! 

Stamp Geek.