Monday, April 14, 2014

German stamps in Lithuania

When I write "German Reich stamps in Lithuania", most philatelist probably comes up with Memel related stamps or the occupation issues such as Postgebiet ob Ost. or Ostland. Well, I should say that's the right reaction but that is not all. There were some regular German stamps that have been used in Lithuania under different circumstances. I have mentioned before in this blog that I do collect Soviet stamps but having difficulties because of the criteria of my collection: all non-Lithuania themed stamps must be cancelled in Lithuania. The exact same criteria applies to the regular German Reich stamps as well, which makes again, collecting German stamps very difficult. There are several cases when these stamps were used in Lithuania, I would like list those in chronological order.

1. Pre-Memelgebiet stamp
99% of the regular Reich stamp that has been issued before 1920 could have been used in the Memel region. When I search German stamps in an internet auction, I usually ignore post-1920 Reich stamps up to 1939 to go faster. However, this does not mean that there is absolutely no way to find any postmark of the Memel area on a Reich stamp between 1920 and 1939 (for example, railway postmark Insterburg-Memel used in Tilsit could be on a post-1920 Reich stamp).
Pre-Reich stamps or also called Old German states' stamps were used in Memel region as well but only the stamps of Prussia and the North German Confederation.

Memel postmark of 1886 on a Reich stamp
2. Postgebiet Oberbefehlshaber Ost area
These areas occupied by the Germans during World War I basically used German stamps overprinted "Postgebiet ob. Ost" but in some cases, regular Reich stamps were used mainly by the private postal delivery services. It is very difficult to find. Believe me... 

3. Re-Annexation of Memel region
Nazi Germany re-annexed Memel region on March 1939 and used regular Reich stamps until the Soviet armies took the region in 1945. I would not say "frequently found" but those are relatively easy to find.

4. Ostland
Ostland had its own overprinted stamp but regular Reich stamps were also valid through out the territory. As a result of the mass-production of Ostland stamps, the use of regular Reich stamps were limited. 

Postmark of Schaulen (Šiauliai, Lithuania) on regular Reich stamps
Schaulen postmark used for precancellation or also for parcel

Those were the 4 cases where regular Reich stamps were used in the present territory of Lithuania for postal use. If I'm missing any cases, please feel free to comment on this post. 


  1. Great site. A Japanese living in Prague fascinated with Lithuania; pretty eclectic. Would expect a post or two on Chiune Sugihara...
    I'm currently working on my page about Prague during the Third Reich, showing then-and-now photos if you're interested.

    1. Thanks!
      Presently, I'm in Japan so I should be updating my profile.. oh, and soon or later I will be posting some thing about Sugihara, you can be sure about that.
      Your project sounds very interesting. I do have some postcards of Protectorate of B&M as well . By the way, you have some very interesting blogs! Flags, Military history.. those are my interest as well.

  2. I love your "simple" 10 Pf. stamp with postmark "Memel". As a collector you can search trough hundrets of stamps of the same kind to find such an example!
    It is the same thing with contemporary Japanese Koban-stamps: Good exampels with a certain postmark are not easy to find...

    Happy Easter SC

    1. oh, yes... I probably went through even a couple of thousands of the same kind to find this "Memel" postmark. and I can imagine, Koban can also be a nightmare for advanced collectors. Do you collect those?
      P.S. Happy Easter to you as well!

  3. Schaulen - Šiauliai:
    I have got a cover from this town, too. My example is also a cover, which has a normal 12 Rpf.-stamp - without "Ostland"-overprint.
    I am not absolutely sure, but it seems, that my cover has something to do with the Holocaust...


    1. That sounds very interesting indeed. What makes you think it has something to do with the Holocaust? Does it say something on the cover?

  4. To everyone:

    There is one more case which I completely forgot! I've noticed while re-reading this post myself now.

    Case 5. Bezirk Bialystok
    This relatively small district located between present Lithuania, Poland and Belarus, surprisingly did not belong to neither Ostland nor General Government and used regular Reich stamps. The district included Białystok (in Poland now), Grodno (in Belarus now), Druskininkai which had a post office with postmark "Bad Druskieniki (Bz. Bialystok)".

  5. The sender of my empty envelope beame later "Gebietskommissar" in Estonia.
    The adress in Šiauliai is Frenkelis Villa...


    1. Gebietkommissar in Estonia? Very interesting. I wonder what he (or she) was doing in Frenkelis Villa. From my understanding "Gebietkommissar" is a kind of police. I also have a cover of Gebietkommissar of Šiauliai (not Estonia). You can see it here:
      (the bottom last cover of the 3)

  6. A lot of German officers, which were employed in the "Ostland-Administration" came from "Schleswig-Holstein".
    My cover was adressed to Husum...
    "Frenkelis Villa" is connected with the Holocaust. Jewish Forced Workers made shoes in Frenkelis Factory. Some workers tried to escape in 1942 - they were shot...
    My cover is from 1941.
    I am not really sure, if the sender is guilty or not...


    1. Wow! I surely did not know that. I know that there was a big shoe factory owned by a Czech company Bata. Here is a picture of the factory in Šiauliai:
      The company later defected from Czechoslovakia to Canada along with Tomas J. Bata (the founder's son) and 100 company employee's families in 1939 due to Nazi invasion. They settled in Batawa, Ontario named from the Bata family.