«STAMPS IN BATTLEDRESS By JOACHIM HOSANG PRICE FIVE SHILLINGS A GERMAN PHILATELIC REVIEW P U B L I C A T ION Published at 152 Finchley Road, London, ...»
This paper is greyish and thick and far from ideal for stamps, but the watermark compensates and the code name "enterprise Wasserwelle" comes from "Wasserzeichen" and "Wellenlinic." The printing blocks, once prepared were spaced to approximately 12 mm between each stamp, as first of all no one in the department had any idea about printing, and secondly one considered that this space might eventually be used for the new overprint. The stamps were printed on large sheets of 12 horizontally with a gutter between the sixth and seventh, and probably 18 vertically. I cannot be positive about this, as not one complete sheet has been salvaged. The printing took very little time and amounted as ordered to 9 million copies.
The final document is not available but every reason exists to consider that the six values were printed to 7 million, and that the two other values showed a printing of one million each. Only a very small fraction of the 7 million were left in their original state, by far the biggest part was overprinted as arranged. One had plenty of ideas, so plenty of over-prints were found. All in all, there are four different sets, the first of which is called the Bomb series with six over-prints. The propaganda value of this set was considered rather good, as the overprints indicate six different bombed towns or monuments of neutral countries, and one expected the British public to show special sympathy in this case. Intentionally only one overprint refers to Germany and is called "Cathedral of Cologne." Another one refers to France, "Cathedral of Rouen," one refers to San Marino, and the others to Monte Cassino and the Papal Residence, Castello Gondolfo. The last over-print deals with the unfortunate U.S. bombing of Schaffhausen Hi Switzerland on April 1st, 1944, where 50 people were killed. On top of each over-print is the inscription "Murder Ruin" framed by two bombs.
The second set is known as "Extremes of World Politics." One could to-day also call it "Nazi Propaganda Slogans." The set was intended to drive home, especially to the English population, the influence of Jews and Communists on British politics and also to explain the reasons for the Second World War. Four overprints simply bring slogans which are well known to most Germans.
Framed in hammer and sickle we see the word "World-Bolshevism" on one stamp, and "World-Slavery" on another one. Two further overprints are framed by two stars of David, the words being this time "World-Capitalism" and "World-Judaism." The fifth value refers to the Atlantic Charter something very near at heart to Nazi ideology. This over-print is as follows: A cross underneath the date 14.8.1941, wavy lines to symbolise the Atlantic Charter as it was signed on the high seas. Incorporated in the wavy lines are the words "The Bluff Charta," it appears that the mis-spelling "Charta" instead of "Charter" had never been noticed. The last value of this set refers once more to the Teheran Conference and reads "Empire's Liquidation " between two crosses;
underneath a large Soviet star with the dates "28.11./1.12.1943 " and below this the continuation "At Teheran."
The third over-print was mainly intended for dropping over troop concentrations in Normandy, as can be seen from the overprint. On the top of each overprint we find A A A O. This was supposed to be "Allied Army Amphibian Operation." The propaganda wordings read as follows: "But who will return," "On Order of Stalin," "England Bleeds On The Order of Moskow." "Come-On, Germany Expects You," "England Has Lost The War," and the sixth over-print reads "A Military Adventure." This last over-print was added very late and on earlier printings the fourth and sixth are identical. So far only one single copy of the sixth over-print has been recorded.
The fourth and last set is the longest of them all. All in all there are 14 over-prints. The first line is identical throughout, reading "Liquidation of Empire." Thereafter the name of certain Colonies or islands are found. I have to add one or two words of explanation here. The unity of the British Empire had never been in doubt and prior to the second W.W. its size was certainly static. But during the last war, certain parts of the Empire had been Strips showing the position of the different overprints occupied by the Japanese, whilst certain specific, but strictly limited, concessions were conferred on the U.S.A. on September 4th, 1940, in exchange for 50 urgently needed destroyers, which the then neutral U.S.A. could naturally not pass on to Britain free of charge.
This exchange presented the German Propaganda Department with a wonderful opportunity, as they naturally refrained from mentioning that only a military base and supply depot had been ceded and that the island definitely remained within the Empire. Eight of the 14 over-prints can be based on this agreement: St. Lucia. Barbados, Granada, St. Vincent, Jamaica, Trinidad, Bahamas and Bermuda-Inseln. The six other overprints referred to the Far East and are: Singapore, Hongkong, Rabaul (which by the way was the capital of the former German Neu-Guinea in the Pacific). Borneo, Rangoon, and last but not least Bougainville.
An interesting thing is that now after all the over-prints had been added, the question of perforating seems to have arisen, and VI/F/4 has not got such a thing. Frantic searching finally resulted in an old second-hand but still usable machine being made available. The only trouble is the perf. 11½ instead of 15 x 14 of the originals. But then the new machine had been in use for perforating theatre tickets and similar items, so one could not expect too much from it. One also found that the gutters between the stamps were not needed, as the overprints fitted on the stamps, so the gutters were perforated too. We find larger and smaller stamps, caused by line perforation.
Collectors have asked why the stamps were never gummed. This is explained by the fact that they were intended to be dropped from planes, and had they been gummed, they most likely would have either stuck together or stuck to the ground. The programme of this counter espionage section, however, also consisted in the preparation of souvenir sheets for stamp collectors with the hope that stamp dealers would thereby indirectly cooperate in spreading propaganda, and for these sheets ungummed stamps proved a drawback. Two sheets were printed, both of them showing in the left corner the British, and the right corner the Soviet emblems, between these the English and Russian inscription "Special Stamp in Memory of the First Day of Invasion."
One sheet had the six values King George VI glued on them, the other one the two souvenir issue stamps. Once glued on, an imitation of a British cancellation, reading " London / A A A O/-6 June/44 SpecialStamp." No one can say if the last two words are supposed to be a special cancellation or souvenir stamp. So far, so good; all preparations are complete, it has taken a bit longer than initially intended, we reach the summer of 1944.
Nine million stamps, and what to do with them. After all, the fortunes of war don't look too good, the Allies have landed. and the Allied Air Forces dominate. The few aeroplanes that fly against England have more important loads to carry than postage stamps. One therefore made good use of the extensive net of agents and informers in neutral Europe. Section VI/F/4 had to hand over its stamps to four different sections ; VI/D in charge of the English speaking world, VI /E3 for the French speaking world and Switzerland, VI/C for the Near East, Turkey and Soviet Russia, and V1/E Scandinavia. These sections received only limited quantities of the stamps, and in turn distributed them first of all to their agents in Sweden, Turkey and Switzerland.
But instead of carefully distributing the stamps, the agents decided that this was a welcome source of revenue and sold out stocks to stamp dealers, the price being 15 Swiss francs or 18 Swedish crowns per copy. Having made a nice profit, the agents contacted Berlin for more and received a further, though smaller, supply. Unfortunately, Berlin had found out by then and very much disagreed with the so-called distribution. Besides this, once they got known to stamp dealers, their identity and connections were also known, and the entire Secret Service was placed in jeopardy. A different distribution was independently made in Sweden and Switzerland, where well known stamp collectors received letters containing odd values of the six value set, the two propaganda stamps, and of the liquidation set. No one could identify the sender, and it is difficult to judge what results this " philatelic mail " produced.
All in all, fifteen to twenty thousand copies were distributed abroad.
No complete sets were sent, only odd values of the individual sets.
Precise figures are not available, but based upon information the following conclusions can be drawn: Coronation and Silver Jubilee issue were distributed twice, 500 copies each time. Liquidation of Empire over-print was also distributed twice, but because of its considered propaganda value, each time in quantities of 3-5,000. One cannot expect that equal quantities of each value were sorted out. The three other over-prints were only supplied approximately 1-2,000 copies, and the souvenir sheets were distributed once, 1,000 each.
As can be seen, Himmler did get his own back, as the stamps did cause quite a commotion and were mentioned in the official newspaper of the UPU, as well as in several Swiss papers under the heading of "A New Nazi Secret Weapon" and similar captions.
Thereby interest was created and collectors are now trying to get hold of them. The biggest and best buyers, however, were the Foreign Legations and Consulates, who sent these stamps back to their own governments, and in this way, some of them found their way back to Berlin, much to the surprise of von Ribbentrop and the Foreign Office, who were never told of them.
The bulk of the stock remained in a Berlin air-raid shelter. Stacked between forged passports and counterfeit notes, they were safely locked away, and only two keys could open the doors. One belonged to Major K., the other one to his first assistant. One hundred sheets were in Major K.'s personal possession. He carried them about on his lecture tours together with samples of forged passports and banknotes. During the final stages of the war K.'s forgers were transferred to Redlzipf, but the stamps remained in Berlin, whilst K. went to somewhere in Western Germany. The sudden order to evacuate Berlin meant transferring the contents of the air-raid shelter, and a lorry load travelled under S.S. Supervision towards Thuringia, whilst the confidential files and therewith the 100 sheets of K. are transferred by convoy to Innsbruck. K. returned to Berlin and found that not only had his entire section left, but also the 100 sheets were transferred. When he finally found out where his section is stationed and arrives in Jena, all that is left of his 9 million stamps are neat little heaps of ashes.
Knowing the American troops to be very close, the officer in charge of the transport decided to burn the entire material. None of the men had saved any stamps, as they would obviously have been incriminating, and all they really wanted to do was to get home. K. carried on towards Innsbruck to check up on the documents and files of his section. Part of it was located, but some of them were missing, and amongst the missing cases are the 100 sheets of his personal file.
And that was the end of " Enterprise Wasserwelle."
The Philatelic Angle Where do the stamps come from?
The German forgeries are rarely collected nowadays on the world market. There are several reasons for this. Some of the stamps are extremely rare; the fact that very little is known about them does also affect demand. Hardly anybody in America and very few collectors in England have any fundamental knowledge about these issues, and this lack of knowledge tends to rank these stamps, especially in U.S.A., not as propaganda forgeries and thereby W.W. II documents, but rather as "labels."
This fundamental study might alter the entire approach of the American collector to these stamps. After all not as some of the English forgeries, these stamps really did serve their propaganda purpose, even if not quite in the way as was initially planned by Himmler.
I should like to deal here with the stamps which at present are offered on the market uric! their origin. In the previous chapter I mentioned the possible sources of supply. I was rather surprised to see the appearance suddenly of some bigger units of some of the values, which theoretically could not exist as the VI/F/4 section only distributed single copies.
No. 1. The stamps which were sent to philatelists during the war in Sweden and Switzerland contained as far as we know only certain issues. It is also known that units of up to ten copies were sometimes thus distributed. We cannot check up if any of the souvenir sheets were distributed in that way.
No. 2. They could also have been stolen, either in Berlin from the airraid shelter or just prior to the burning of the stock near Jena. Neither of these possibilities is difficult to counter, as first of all only two keys existed for the air-raid shelter and as the chief assistant to Major K.
was an extremely reliable person any Berlin theft can be ruled out.
And considering that the personnel involved in the burning of the stock at Jena consisted of S.S. men, who fully realised that they would get into much more trouble if arrested with these stamps, the second theory could also be rejected.
No. 3. They could come from the 100 sheets which were sent to Innsbruck, but these have never been found, or shall we say, they have never been put on the market. One must presume in view of the certain large units of the Silver Jubilee issue that these units at least might come from that lost stock. It is difficult to say nowadays precisely what was in those boxes. Based on calculations and memory the following conclusions can be drawn about the contents: largish quantities of the Silver Jubilee stamp, small quantities of the Coronation stamp, very few souvenir shuts. Probably two or three complete sheets of each of the unoverprinted values ; considerable quantities, probably 30 to 40 sheets, of the " Liquidation of Empire " series. Tiny quantities or none at all of the three other over-prints. These latter, in any case, are completely unobtainable on the market at present.