Monday, September 3, 2012

Zemgale-Vilnius Railway post 1939

Zemgale - Wilno, to some people it might seem strange to see "Zemgale" on a Polish postmark. Indeed, Zemgale is a name of a Latvian region. But according to the train time table (link to the time table is HERE) from that time, there are twice daily train that departs from Warsaw to Turmont (Zemgale) via Wilno/Vilnius. Turmont (now Turmantas, Lithuania) is a border town with a railway station and not part of Latvia. Then why would they add "(Zemgale)" to it?

Zemgale station (upper) and Turmont station (lower)

The answer is quit simple when you look further to the time table. Zemgale was a Latvian border station just 2km north of Turmont/Turmantas station and was the real final destination of the train. According to Wikipedia, Zemgale station does not exist anymore and the station building serves as a Catholic church today (Russian Wikipedia LINK, as it has not been translated to english yet). Zemgale served as a border custom and also as a connecting station to further direction towards Daugavpils. The express train from Warsaw was officially named "Gwiazda Północy", the Northern Star, but most of the people called it "Latający Wilnianin". Latający meaning flying and Wilnianin designates the people of Wilno (if I would be forced to translate it, I would say "Flying Wilnians". HERE is the Wikipedia link). Funny name.. The sender of this cover seems to have posted in Ignalino/Ignalina, a town between Wilno and Zemgale with also a railway station which explains the use of this postmark. 

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