Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Postkrieg or Postal War

In his book "On War", Carl von Clausewitz stated that "War is a continuation of politics by other means". Many of us have not heard the term Postkrieg or postal war. It is defined as a Postal War. Postal War is defined as measures taken, obviously for political reasons, by one country against another. It attacks postage stamps issued by a postal authority, postmarks, slogans or any postal material. 

When dealing with our area, the Arab countries had no postal relations with us and letters sent to Israel, but landing up in Arab countries, were returned to sender after application of a cachet. But that is a simple case of a boycott against us or a lack of postal relations. However this is a continuation of the war and fits Clausewitz's theory.

As an example of our postal war, the year 1960 was declared by the UN as "World Refugee Year ". Many countries issued stamps to publicize the year. Israel issued two stamps, one depicting Jewish Yemenite refugees arriving to Israel on a flying carpet. The second depicting a Jewish Yemenite refugee family building their new home in the land of Israel. Romanian postal authorities took offense and with the case of Israel, mail using these stamps was returned. Covers bearing "World Refugee Year" stamps from Israel and others received a rubber stamp with the following text: "RETOUR AFFRANCHIE AVEC TIMBRES NON ADMIS" (Return/Franked with/Inadmissible stamps).

After the Six Day War, Eastern European countries, mainly Poland, Romania, East Germany and Russia, had an outright postal war with Israel, returning mail when they did not like the stamp used or the slogan. Often a cachet or label was added such as “Not Admitted in Accordance with the UPU Convention for Glorification of Military Aggression on Postage Stamps”, in essence accusing Israel of the aggression against Arab States.

In the item below we can see that the problematic stamp is the one depicting the Straits of Tiran, at the entrance to the Gulf of Sinai. 

The Eastern European countries often point to Article 28 section 1d for validation. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) cannot declare a stamp issued by a member's postal administration as invalid. However according to the UPU Convention, the issue of postage stamps should contribute to better understanding between nations, their different cultures and international friendship (UPU Resolution, Ottawa 1957). Article 28 enables members to refuse to deliver mail if certain conditions are met. Article 28 (1d)enables members to refuse to deliver mail which contain “objects of which the import and circulation in the country of destination is forbidden”. Stamps / slogans fall under this category?

A postal war existed between East and West Germany from as early as 1949 and items have been seen as late as the 1970s. This war provided us with a lot of interesting philatelic items, such as stamps totally, blackened out or removed or simply refused to deliver and returned to sender. In some cases the blackening out of the stamp was so severe that you could not see the stamp itself or tell which country it was sent from. Only the return address gives the clue as to where the letter originated from. 

East Germany declared Berlin as its capital and this was not recognized by France, US or England. In 1961, East Germany started a campaign declaring East Germany as their capital and introduced a cancel with the slogan, “Berlin – Capital of DDR”. The special cancel had about seven different designs during the 1960s. This started a new phase of the postal war as mail with this cancel that entered West Germany received a red cancel with the slogan “Berlin is the Capital of Germany, not the Soviet Zone”. It is believed that three different versions of this counter cancel exists.

The Palestinians are demanding a part of Jerusalem as their capital, a new postkrieg in the future?

Note: Previously published in the Israel Journal of Thematic Collecting

For more information on Postkrieg, please check out: http://www.postalwar.info. There is also a catalog for sale (I have a copy, so I can recommend it). https://www.postalwar.info/content/books.php

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