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Published at 152 Finchley Road, London, N.W.3, England

Edited by Peter C. Rickenback

Vol. 3 No. 4 (16) September 1955

Stamps in Battledress



Previously published in German under the title "Gezahnte Kriegspropaganda" 1st English Edition translated by


Covering pages 97-128 of the German Philatelic Review All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce or translate this book or portions thereof in any form.

Preface To The Second Edition I am very pleased to present the English version of my essay " Gezahnte Kriegspropaganda" and I hope that my notes will he received with interest by English speaking collectors. The Philatelic Section of this second edition has been brought up to date whilst I have slightly compressed the general sections.

I have not been able to clear all the points, far from it. This is issued in the interest of research and specially to prevent forgeries and I should very much like to complete the picture. I happen to be the secretary of the Study-group for Propaganda and Espionage Forgeries and would be grateful for any further information. Needless to say I hope that some of the new readers will become members of our group.


Sollingen, uber Schoningen, Germany.

January 1st, 1955.

Preface To The First Edition "Psychological Warfare " has become an essential part in modern war, be it a shooting war or just a "cold" one. Radio, press and leaflets are immediately enrolled. Little wonder then that stamps had to play their part too, be it for bringing propaganda to the opposite side or presenting propaganda in itself, stamps are popular the world over and are kept. Aerial leaflets are much less popular for collectors and they are therefore read and discarded. Stamps at least were saved, as everybody, if not the finder himself knows someone who collects. The only drawback is its small size. Both propaganda and espionage stamps were issued by the major warring parties of the second world war and it is intriguing to delve into the secrets of production, distribution, etc. Several collectors have now been able to find most, if not all, of the knowhow and their findings should make interesting reading.

Complete information will probably never be obtainable for secrets lie hidden in documents in the safes of the secret services and much has been lost through death of those who were actively engaged in the preparations. The secret service of the Third Reich no longer exists so no secrets are being betrayed. The actual documents have not been available but the knowledge of those involved in production and distribution has remained. This booklet brings for the first time authentic facts about the German forgeries of the last world war, which were intended both for propaganda in and against England.

I intentionally resist writing about the many Allied forgeries as insufficient information is at present to hand. I also wish to limit this booklet strictly to German issues. At a later date the research on the Allied issues will be published as a second volume.

It can be expected that readers of this book will not only be stamp collectors and the first part of it is therefore devoted to a detailed historical study, whilst the second part is taken over by pure philatelic findings.

I trust the reader will find the contents of interest and I close with the request that if any further and additional information is available, that I shall have the favour of hearing about it d o that all can share the knowledge.


Sollingen, May, 1954.

'Why Forgeries Stamps were used for propaganda distribution purposes and here we have to differentiate between direct and indirect forgeries. The direct ones we consider those which were strictly based upon a genuine stamp and were intended for mail to be dropped by plane over enemy territory or to be infiltrated into the enemy postal system by some other means. Direct forgeries however, always show certain differences from the original, such as for example the Himmler or Frank forgeries. The alterations always indicate some sort of propaganda tendency. Distribution of these was manifold. They have been found inside propaganda letters, on airletter sheets or dropped loose from the air.

The indirect propaganda stamps are considered as "espionage" forgeries, whilst the direct products are considered as "propaganda" forgeries.

Though this is not strictly correct, the above definitions have taken root and are generally accepted and little use would be served by altering these things now. Precise details of all the how and why are given with each different issue as no hard and f a s t rule can be applied.

The German Propaganda Forgeries Germany entered the field of psychological warfare through the medium of stamps comparatively late about the end of summer 1943.

Strangely enough, Berlin was well aware that from the British side preparations were already well in hand, and it is believed that the actual British stamps were already known in Berlin. In the middle of 1943, however, imitations of the 6 Pfg. Hitler stamps in violet showing the portrait of Himmler appeared in the Ruhr. The Gestapo collected all these and forwarded them to Berlin with a statement that they were found after an air raid by British planes. Himmler, on seeing these stamps, surprisingly considered himself and the entire Nazi State to be insulted and decided to get his own back in particular against England.

The easiest and most useful counterstroke appeared to be in the production of stamps.

I have mentioned the advantage of stamps for propaganda purposes in my preface. The stamp collector differentiates between propaganda and espionage forgeries. Espionage forgeries were known in the first world war. German, Bavarian and Austrian stamps were then forged in England, but it has not yet been proved whether they were actually used. It was considered that they were intended for franking letters written by allied agents working in enemy territory.

This sort of thing was obviously quite out of the question in a modern war. Foreign agents most certainly did not use forged stamps considering they most likely never wrote more than one report per day and they could quite easily have obtained their normal stamp requirements at a post office or a stamp machine; and what secret service would endanger its agents by letting them use forged stamps?

After all the German secret service managed to dress one of their agents into uniform of a British post office official. He worked in London during the second world war. No, the agents certainly used genuine everyday stamps when they did not make use of the radio, which was the most common link in the second world war.

The Headquarters of the Gestapo were in Berlin. One need hardly doubt that this department was well organised. Seven sections called "Amt I bis VII" were stationed there. "Amt VI" was in charge of counter espionage. This section was subdivided into groups VI A to VI F and VI WI and VI S. We are interested just now in VI F Subsection

4. This department dealt with documentary forgeries, under which fall foreign passports, identification papers, etc., of foreign countries.

Major K. was in charge of this department, the offices were in Berlin, Berkaerstr, formerly an old age pensioners' home. The most important section, however, was the printer's shop in Oranienburg Sachsenhausen.

Staffed by specialists, among whom we find concentration camp inmates who were formerly forgers, experts on paper and print, in short a very selected crowd. This was a soft job with special food privileges. It was therefore easy to get hold of good experts.

This section had been at work for years on the codeword "enterprise Bernhard." This was the code word for the production of forged money.

First of all only £ notes used for payment of German agents abroad, such as for example the famous Cicero in Turkey, but also intended for dropping from planes over England with the intention of dislocating British finances.

It is contended that Himmler himself thought of this "Enterprise Bernhard," and one can fully understand that the order for printing postage stamps was given to this department VI/F/4. The order itself has not been traced, but its contents have been reconstructed, so that the whole thing should read as follows

1. As examples for propaganda forgeries, genuine British postage stamps must be used and the basic forms must be retained.

2. The basic design and colour must be retained as near as possible.

3. There must be no alteration whatsoever to the profile of the King.

4. Communist tendencies must be incorporated in the design and show the implications of Communist influence upon the Allies and especially upon England.

5. Over-prints pointing to actual war reverses are to be applied with the aim of influencing the British national feeling.

6. Drawings, designs, and proofs for these stamps based on the above directions will be submitted not later than within 14 days from this instruction.

7. Quantities of the accepted designs must be ready for distribution within 6 to 8 weeks.

8. Distribution of the stamps is intended over troop concentrations and the larger towns of England by the Luftwaffe.

This order is pretty precise, but all the same, ample leeway is left to artistic development. The task was not easy, as one was not allowed to modify the head of the King and there is very little else of the British stamp. On the other hand, ample scope was given with regard to the scheduled overprint.

The stamps were first of all photographed and magnified and into these large photographs the propaganda ideas were incorporated. Detail was not of great importance, as the final product quite obviously had to look like a forgery. Three designs were submitted. First of all the six low values

showing the head of H.M. King George VI with the following alterations:

The crown in the top centre was replaced by a Jewish Star of David and the shortening in the value tablets for Penny was replaced by the hammer and sickle. Two other small alterations were made, but are barely visible; the rose in the top left corner is replaced by a hammer and sickle and the thistle in the top right corner is replaced by the star of David. With the exception of the alteration on the crown, the new additions were hardly visible. At the same time, proofs for the overprints were submitted. Further ideas resulted in the propaganda forgeries of the Coronation and Silver jubilee issues. The latter were really pulled to pieces yet the final forgery does immediately remind one as being the Jubilee issue. The head of the King is replaced by the profile of Stalin. The inscriptions, true to the propaganda of a " Jewish and Communist " war, are removed and are placed on the top with a star of David followed by the words "This War is A" followed again by a star of David. The lower inscription reading "½ Halfpenny;" is altered by inserting the hammer and sickle and then, continuing the sentence started in the upper margin, by the words "Jewsh War." The crown in the left frame and the laurel wreath are again replaced by Jewish and Soviet emblem, and the year indications 1910-1935 are altered into 1939-1944. The 1944 was chosen, as this was to be the year of victory, and thereby the end of Great Britain.

The coronation stamp of 1937 was maltreated as well. Here the Queen is replaced by Stalin, the emblems and inscription "Postage-Revenue" are replaced by " SSSR Britannia " flanked by two David stars. The implication of the inscription was intended to show that England had become one of the Socialist Soviet Republics. In the lower margin, the inscription "17 May 1937," the date of the Coronation, is replaced by the date of the Teheran Conference, reading "Teheran 28.11.1943." The eagle in the right ornament is replaced by the Soviet star ; the right part of the crown is also tampered with, and the monogram "GER " is altered into " SSSR."

These designs were submitted to Himmler, who was satisfied and gave the all clear for printing. One difficulty encountered at this stage was the actual printing. The entire job was secret, the State Printing Works therefore could not be used. They, however, had the experience, whilst Major K. had no idea whatsoever regarding stamp production. I should mention at this stage that philatelists have often remarked that the admitted high quality of German printing should have produced a better quality stamp and that they considered the stamps could not possibly be "genuine." This is a wrong conclusion. There is no doubt that very much better work might have been done, but why? Special efforts, special expenditure when in the end the finished product was anything but a likeness of the original stamp. These stamps were right from the start to be obvious forgeries, and this must be borne in mind when reading about and studying these issues.

The printing process available at the tune was an offset press. The planned issue was nine million stamps. An awful lot of paper was needed for that.

Paper was short at the time, and it was decided to use remaining stocks of old food coupons. This paper with watermarked wavy lines had become useless as the Americans had started to forge paper and watermark and print food coupons which were dropped from aeroplanes over the Reich.

They had to produce new ration coupon paper thereby making large quantities of the old stock obsolete.

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