January 16th, 2021

Exploring history through stamps

By Submitted Article on April 8, 2020.

Walter Kerber


I find it fascinating to discover interesting anecdotes of history in my stamps. Scanning through a pile of stamps sometimes brings up some fascinating oddities.

Some of these are from France and then there are some from Croatia. Both of these stamps have a historical connection. These stamps were from a common theme during the Second World War.

In France there was a legion of soldiers who were fighting along with the German Army on the Eastern front. To my surprise, there were also Croatians that were fighting the Bolsheviks alongside the Germans on the eastern front. Although I was not able to read the writing on the postage stamps, don’t know the language, I was able to determine what they were.

After consulting the internet, I discovered that the Croatian troops were not very disciplined and after being on the Russian front had to be sent back for sickness and retraining. It makes a different niche in a bit of history.

Confusing High Values of the DDR

East Germany can be confusing at the best of times. With the same stamps in series, with only different papers and watermarks to some stamps being withheld from counters and official stamps with design differences and overprints, it’s confusing. The one set of stamps that tops the confusion is the High value definitive that feature the value.

The same stamp, with the same value, appears three times, but each with a different value definition, DM, MDN, M. The big question is Why?

It seems that in 1948, the Soviets, selected the Mark as the currency in the soon to be DDR. This became official in 1949, DM, when East Germany became official. Then, in 1964, the finance ministry decided to issue new banknotes. To distinguish them from the original issue, they were designated with the MDN.

On Jan. 1, 1968, the ministry changed the bank to the State Bank and the value was then M. These three value definitions only appear on the 1 and 2 mark stamps of the series, but can be easily overlooked by collectors.

Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of the Lethbridge Philatelic Society’s April meeting as well as the annual auction scheduled for May.

Walter Kerber is a longtime member of the Lethbridge Philatelic Society.

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