Asking for food behind a stamp – Holocaust IV

Enjoy” a run of posts, a sequence of bad memories on paper that we certainly have to remember… 

Asking for food …the hard way! 

Although mail between concentration camp prisoners and their families was limited to one or two letters or cards per month each way, and Nazi censors checked all incoming and outgoing mail, some inmates occasionally managed to slip secret messages past the censors, risking severe punishment. The following piece belongs to Spungen Family Foundation.


Lorenz Janowski concealed a note to his wife beneath a pair of 6-pfennig stamps on this August 16, 1942, letter. Written in Polish, the secret message acknowledged receipt of clothing and asked for bread. The normal letter inside, written in German as required, contained only the permissible platitudes. Prisoners were allowed to request parcels from their loved ones, but they were not permitted to request specific items. 

The ingenuity and perseverance of the prisoners was unthinkable! Although bans and strict custody by Nazis, they have always found a way to communicate!

Primarolia for eCharta

Über 0 – Germany during WW2 just in middle of the battle of Berlin!

I’m a big fan of Kieron Gillen ever since a small preview about Phonogram got my attention. Since then I was blown away when I read the first issue! So I had to follow this creator’s course especially when he delved into my favorite genre, superhero comics! Recently I found out that he was doing a comic book for Avatar Press a publisher where I knew creators like Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis lurked creating dark comics with no hold back content! So what was Gillen doing here what was he writing about? The answer is Über! A comic book placed in Germany during WW2 just in middle of the battle of Berlin with a whole new twist!

Uber_0_4The twist is that this time the German army by using powered beings as weapons they win the battle but don’t expect to read it as a golden age superhero comic, it’s nothing like that, it has more substance! There is much deep behavioral aspects of what humans do in a time of war, what they do to survive or conquer by using violence.

Violence is a cruel behavior and in this issue of Über. We see it used


by different point of views, by people who it comes natural to them that do not see the wrong in it, by those who use it because they are forced by situations of life or death and by those who although they see the wrong in it and how it can corrupt you they also know it’s the only way to gain your goals in a time of war and conspiracy!


At first the comic didn’t catch my attention and that is only because I was not familiar with the detailed history of WW2 battles, armies, ranks and names, but as the story unfolded I was drawn into it without


realizing it! The main story develops in different threads in the same time which made me turn page after page in anticipation of what the final outcome will be. Finally all plots intersect at the most critical moment which is the battle! I won’t go into detail on who the characters are or what powered beings are being used. I will only say it is a story about soldiers and civilians in a cruel time of our history which Gillen delivers in a  most fascinating way. It shows that he has studied and worked hard to create a story using a lot of facts and references from that era to hold what he has to say all the more true!

The creative team on Über’s art consists of Canaan White doing pencils, Michael Dipascale colors and Keith Williams inking. It would be wrong of me to not mention on how much the art helped in saying this story!!! Although it is in many ways realistic you cannot go without noticing some aspects of darkish 80’s retro style, the storytelling is very good and the colors with the inking add atmosphere giving a full illustrated outcome!


So in conclusion this is a comic still at the beginning of its story and very promising! It’s raw it’s true and I do believe that in the future we will see much more twists and turns and more griping character development in one of the cruelest eras of our history! Über #0 may have super beings but their powers are the special effects, the power of human behavior is what the story is about!

Read it and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!!!!

Con Barbatsis for eCharta

Bad Memories on Paper we Have to Remember – Holocaust Part III

Enjoy” a run of posts, a sequence of bad memories on paper that we certainly have to remember… 

Concentration Camp Dachau, SS takes command

In June 1933, SS-Oberführer Theodor Eicke became the Dachau commandant. In 1934, as the elite Nazi SS [Schutzstaffel – literally, protection squad; originally Adolf Hitler’s bodyguards] took control of the Gestapo and all the concentration camps, Eicke was placed in overall command of the camps. On the night of June 30-July 1, 1934, known to history as “Night of the Long Knives,” elite, ruthless Nazi SS men purged SA storm troopers in a grisly spree of mass assassination. Eicke personally executed SA chief Ernst Röhm in his cell at Munich. Promoted to SS-Gruppenführer, Eicke centralized administration, introduced torture and exemplary cruelty as deliberate methods of control, and propagated rules for the entire concentration camp system. From then until the defeat of Nazi Germany, all concentration camp guards were specially trained SS personnel. Central authority was headquartered at Dachau until October 1938, when it was removed to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp at Oranienburg. The 2 following pieces belong to Spungen Family Foundation.


Above: A cover mailed from the office of the Dachau commandant on February 18, 1935, to former prisoner Maier Schloss at Ingolstadt. Below: An October 3, 1934, inmate’s postcard from Schloss to his wife before he was released.   

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Bad Memories on Paper we Have to Remember – Holocaust Part II

Enjoy” a run of posts, a sequence of bad memories on paper that we certainly have to remember… 

Concentration Camp Dachau established, 1933


Dachau, located 15 kilometers from Munich in Bavaria, was the Nazis’ first major concentration camp, built on the site of an abandon World War I munitions factory. Heinrich Himmler announced its creation at a March 20, 1933, news conference. The first prisoners – Communists and Socialists – arrived on March 22.

At the beginning, Dachau had a capacity for 4,000 inmates. By September 1944, the prisoner population had grown to about 100,000.

Dachau was the only camp that lasted for the entire 12 years of the Third Reich; it was liberated by the United States Army on April 29, 1945.

On May 5, 1933, (as we read on the postcard’s cancellation: Dachau 5.MAI.33)  Josef Haff, who had been a Nazi since 1929, wrote to his family as he sipped beer during his mid-day break, his third day of duty as a concentration camp guard. He found life at the camp to be pleasant.

The picture side of his postcard is a view of the Amper valley from the south, with the Würm river canal flowing past the west side of the prison compound.

The larger item is an official document attesting to Haff’s satisfactory service as a Dachau guard from May 3 to September 16, 1933. These pieces belong to Spungen Family Foundation.


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Bad Memories on Paper we Have to Remember – Holocaust Part I

Many findings of postal or just of paper history are worth mentioning. A huge label is the WWII and the terrible actions that took place during this dark world period. We believe that the Holocaust is an extermination period of Jews but also of other groups such as the Communists, the Gypsies and the handicapped who were persecuted by the Nazis both in Germany and in Europe. We want to try to demonstrate showing pieces of that period in a sequence of posts not only the depth and range of the Nazi persecution but also the resourceful imagination of the inmates as tortured human beings in their desperate agony to communicate with the outside world. “Enjoy” a run of posts, a sequence of bad memories on paper that we certainly have to remember… 

holocaust 1bj

The back side of the letter-card

From the earliest days of Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship, the Gestapo had the power to impose “protective custody” on anyone, to prevent “undesirable” political activities, to monitor the activities of suspects and to wiretap their conversations, without accountability to any court or other government authority, but regular police retained their traditional role subject to law as regulated by courts. Reich Leader Heinrich Himmler of the elite Nazi SS had taken control of the Gestapo and all the concentration camps in 1934. In June 1936, he became chief of all the German police, thus subordinating all state power to the Nazi apparatus and to the party’s political imperatives.


This form letter-card front is a summons to an interrogation.

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Three values of Hindenburg Medallion definitive stamps with POL perfins, plus one Nazi Swastika Official stamp, correctly paid the 46-pfennigs rate (40 pfennigs for legal service of a document through the post plus 6 pfennigs local letter postage in that combination). This piece belongs to Spungen Family Foundation.

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The Russians on the Reichstag during WWII

Two stamps of DDR showing the flag on German Parliament

Two DDR stamps  showing the flag on German Parliament

Those two issues from East Germany were based on a photograph which was shot by the Ukrainian photographer Yevgeny Khaldei. However, the fact that the Russian flag was hoisted on top of the German parliament – Reichstag was considered to be a very serious matter: in fact, so serious that the photograph could not be left “intact” by the people in charge!

On 30th April 1945, a 24-year old Russian soldier raised the Russian flag above the German parliament. The Germans removed it but, after two days, they conceded a crushing defeat. Thus, on 2nd May, Yevgeny Khaldei climbed up the roof along with two “new” Russian soldiers, one giving a helping hand to the other, in order to secure the flag at the top of the building.

Nevertheless, upon closer examination, we notice that one of the soldiers is wearing two wrist watches: one around each of his wrists! This is, no doubt, undesirable evidence of looting that had to be erased by the photographer who added more dark smoke and increased the volume of the three-dimensional flag in order to do their superiors’ bidding. What is more, as the photographer realized that the soldiers had rather Asiatic facial features, he thought it a very good idea to substitute those soldiers for other ones with a better “appearance”. Finally, he fixed the picture as it had to be presented.


Left the original photograph where we may notice the non-commissioned officer wearing the two wrist watches. At the right the retouched photograph with its smoke and the “right” soldiers!

This second retouching is still a symbol, today. Naturally, those postage stamps are the most important ones of World War II as they signal its end. As we know today, the only real thing in that photograph is the raise of the flag and even that took place two days later than the actual event. Everything was the product of a wonderfully spectacular staging.

german parliament postcard

A nice postcard of the German Parliament – Reichstag – in 1900

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The Iwo Jima Photo-Symbol

On 23rd February 1945 the battle of Iwo Jima was over. It was a major battle and that morning the US marines stepped on the summit of Souribaki mount. Six men – Shrier, Thomas, Hansen, Lindbergh, Michaels and Carlo- hoisted the American flag on the top of that mountain at 10:30. The scene was captured by Louis Lowery among the cheers of the rest.First_Iwo_Jima_Flag_RaisingHowever, the photograph depicted on the US stamp on the cover underneath, which is among the most celebrated ones in the 20th century, is not the one taken by Lowery!

FDC Iwo Jima

The cover bears a cancellation dated on the day following the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The United States Administration had decided that the flag was rather too small and sent a larger one on the mount escorted by a different team of photographers!

This time the team comprised: Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press photographer; Bill Genaust, a sergeant photographer; Private Bob Campbell, a  photographer; and, Bill Hipple, a Newsweek photographer as well as other marines who took part in that imaginary hoisting. They hauled down the small flag and replaced it with the large one with excellent cinematographic direction at noon time on the same day. It is, indeed, an expressionistic scene!

WW2_Iwo_Jima_flag_raisingThe photograph was taken by Rosenthal, who became known in the entire world through that photo. The cover depicted bears a cancellation dated on the day following the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

By James Makris for eCharta

Airgraphs, 1941- 1945

A new paper story from eCharta, about not very notable paper items! The WWII airgraphs or V-mails!

The airgraph was invented in the 1930s by the Eastman Kodak Company in conjunction with Imperial Airways (now British Airways) and Pan-American Airways as a means of reducing the weight and bulk of mail carried by air. The United States adopted the Airgraph Service, renaming it “victory mail” or “V-Mail” on June 15, 1942, and it was in use until April 1, 1945.

Early in the Second World War II communications were very problematic between Britain and its forces broad. The Mediterranean Sea had been closed, enemy activities endangered ships, there were few aircraft available and petrol supplies were short. At the same time large numbers of troops abroad, needed to write, send and receive letters. Then a new mail service, the airgraph service was the solution.

Letters were written on a letter sized blank airgraph form contained space for a letter of about 100 to 300 words, the address of the serviceman or -woman to whom the letter was to be delivered, the address of the sender, and a circular area for the censor’s stamp of approval. Form was then photographed. The negative was a mere 12 x 16mm and 5000 could be included on one roll of film. At their destination, the negatives were enlarged, printed out, packed in envelopes and delivered. The original letters were kept and if the films were lost in transit the airgraphs could be sent again.

The scheme operated for four years until the end of the war, during which time 135,224,250 were sent!

So, through all these designs and subjects it’s logic to have a paradise for the collectors and the thematic philatelists. We see in the pictures airgraphs examples with attractive and very stimulating images.

Three airgraphs with outstanding image design!

You can visit eCharta to list some airgraphs for sale!

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Operation Bernhard

Trying to make a tradition in eCharta blog we’re publishing a paper story once a week. Your paper stories are welcome!

This time I’d like to go through a really exciting and known story. All 2nd World War enthusiasts I’m sure they heard about it!

Adolf Hitler had been warming up his engines, both before and during World War II, in order to exterminate certain groups of human beings considered as persona non-grata on this planet. But some other stories occurred during this holocaust dark period of our modern history.

In the concentration camps you could find many capable people for any job that you could take advantage of their talents!

So, in the summer of 1942, the Germans undertook Operation Bernhard, in which a skilled group of Jewish prisoners was gathered at Sachsenhausen to forge British banknotes. Under a lot of time pressure -and not only – they made pieces of art! Notes like these £ 20 or 10 are considered the best fake British money ever made, and were successfully passed off around the world, even circulating in England. These notes passed the test even in Bank of England!

Their story was featured in a recent film, “The Counterfeiters.”

A strong paper story…

20 British pounds made by Operation Bernhard in 1942 with date: Aug 15, 1935

10 British pounds made by Operation Bernhard in 1942 with date: April 16, 1935

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