Saturday, May 28, 2016

Kaunas 1935 - Hotel Metropolis

Berlin - Zentralflughafen / Central Airport transit postmark

Kaunas - Gelež. Stotis / Kaunas Railway Station 1935

This is an airmail cover of the Hotel Metropolis sent in 1935 from Kaunas to London. This Hotel Metropolis was the most prestigious hotel in Lithuania during the interwar period, where most of the important guests stayed. It has been nationalized in 1922, served many celebrities and state guests from Marc Chagall to Chiune Sugihara. The hotel is still operating today (but not "prestigious" as it used to be back then, at least when I've stayed there myself in 2005) at the exact same building which you can see on the cover hotel logo illustration.
Interestingly, the cover is addressed to a ship captain but sent to the office that owns the ship rather than the ship itself. The was no direct flight from Kaunas to London at that time I guess, so you see a transit postmark of Berlin Zentralflughafen / Central airport on the back of the cover.
The Japanese consul Chiune Sugihara / 杉原千畝 famous for issuing life saving visas to the Jewish people during WWII, spent his final days in Lithuania here. He stayed at Hotel Metropolis after the Japanese consulate was forcibly closed down by the occupying Soviet authority, continued issuing visas in the hotel room. Many witnesses stated that he even wrote visas at the Kaunas railway station platform when he was leaving Lithuania (and coincidentally, the postmark of this cover is Kaunas railway station!). Today you can see 2 commemorative plates to honor this event, one at Kaunas railway station and the other one at Hotel Metropolis.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Vilnius 1917

This is a postcard sent in 1917 from Wilna (now Vilnius, Lithuania) under the German occupation to Pfafstatt bei Mülhausen in Elsass, now in Alsace, France. It has a nice cachet of the Soldatenheim - Wilna, a recreational establishment for the soldiers, where the card has been sent from. It also has the address on it: Georgstrasse 9 which is the present Gedimino Prospektas. The German name "Georgstrasse", George street. probably comes from the St. George church located right behind the Lithuanian writers' Union building on Gedimino Prospektas.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Vilnius 1923

Nice postmark of Wilno 1

This is a cover sent in 1923 from Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) to Genève, Suisse, the French spelling for Geneva, Switzerland. Personally speaking, I find this block of 10 stamps of 10 Polish Marks very attractive. Poland in 1923 was in the middle of the hyperinflation and you will often see covers with multiple of stamps on it.
The sender have written the return address as "Vilna", again this is the French spelling for Vilnius, most probably coming from the Russian name of the city.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Recent Acquisitions

Russ (now Rusnė, Lithuania), Ostpreussen (East Prussia) 1887

Серее / Seree (now Seirijai, Lithuania),
Сув/Suv (Suvalki Gubernia) 1910 

Rossienie (now Raseiniai, Lithuania) 1918,
during WWI German occupation

Rucken (now Rukai, Lithuania) 1920

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Druja-Dūkštas Railway post 1937

Well, unfortunately it is a damaged stamp... but I have my reason why I do keep this stamp preciously in my album. This stamp has a 1937 polish T.P.O. postmark of the line Druja (now Друя / Druya, Belarus) - Dukszty (now Dūkštas, Lithuania)! I have few books and documents talking about Polish railway post that operated in Vilnius region but none of them mention about this Druja - Dukszty line for some reason which I have absolutely no clue. According to the list of Polish railway post line, the line Druja - Dukszty existed and the number was 491 which supposed to be shown on the bottom of the postmark (it is missing on my copy). Philatelically speaking, that's about all the information I've got so far.
This narrow gauge line linked Dukszty / Dūkštas and Druja, the northernmost Polish railway station ever existed in Polish history, via Браслаў /Brasław (Breslauja in Lithuanian), the most populated town along this railway line. Originally, it has been built by the German during WWI which the Poles took over and converted to a 750mm narrow gauge line. There were some interruptions during WWII but the line was used until the late 1960's during the Soviet rule.

The line Druja - Dukszty on a 1929 Polish map
 Only 5 stations were actually in the present Lithuanian territory: Dukszty / Dūkštas, Berżeniki / Beržininkai, Rymszany / Rimšė, Biernaty / Bernotai and Czepukany / Čepukai (part of what used to be Czepukany extends on the Belarussian side as well). For more informations, look at the thread in, the link is HERE