Sunday, May 5, 2013

Postal Items from a German WWII POW Camp


Woldenberg Oflag IIC was a German World War II prisoner of war camp for Polish officers. The Articles of the Geneva Convention entitled POWs to the right of self-government which led to the development of postal services and library services in some POW camps including Woldenberg. As part of the postal services at Woldenberg, the prisoners developed their own postage stamps and postmarks. A special postmark (shown above) was designed for DNI KSIAZKI or Book Week which took place August 29 to September 4, 1943 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the printing of the first Polish book.  An exhibit at the camp library was also organized by the the Council for the Camp's Library for Cultural Instructions to celebrate the occasion.  The postmark and stamp above are on part of an envelope given to me by friend and fellow bibliophilatelist Jerzy Duda of Krakow Poland. It was Jerzy who also made me aware of the story behind the items on the envelope. Roman Sobus is an expert on the postal history of Woldenberg Oflag IIC and has developed a philatelic exhibit on this topic. Ironically,
as Sobus points out in the
introduction to his exhibit, the postage stamps and special postmarks that were created by the Polish prisoners of war "are most often of a strong cultural or religious nature, depicting events or persons from Poland's history, and its battles for independence, a fact seemingly lost on the prisoners' captors." I also have in my collection a postal card sent by the camp library to one of the prisoners (shown below). For more on these and other similar postal items click here.

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