A view of the Third Reich through the window of stamp collecting.
I will not be quoting catalogue numbers as there are so many different catalogues world wide, I will quote however the month and year of issue,then it will be up to the individual to do any further research themselves.
Most of the background information used during this philatelic view of German history of the 1933-1945 period is taken from original newspapers, books and indeed stamp catalogues from the years 1933 to 1945.
Cover from an original German stamp album from 1935 Translation: "The stamps of the new Germany"
12th April 1933 The Opening of the Reichstag Issue
Due to the Reichstag fire in February 1933, the first sitting of the "New Germany" was held in Potsdam Garrison Church, where Hitler met up with Hindenburg and a ceremony was carried out and military parades presented the old Imperial flags.
During the Weimar Republic there was an outcry from the Left due to a stamp showing Friedrich the Great being issued in November 1926 (10 Rfg). It was viewed at the time that the "Old Fritz" was a Right wing hero. The Nazis never forgot this and when they came to power they made sure that the very first issue would show Friedrich in all his glory, the stamp issue sent a very clear message to the left opposition in April 1933.
A postcard from 1933 showing Friedrich the Great disbanding the local federal governments of Germany Germany was originally formed from a grouping of independant states, who up until 1933 still controlled local government policy. Now it was clear that everything would be controlled from a single body in Berlin! Interesting to note that the only colour on the postcard is the red flag, another message made clear.
1933 Hindenburg Definitive Issue
Although the old definitive issue from the Weimar Republic were still in use right up until, in some cases, 1936, it was thought that Germany needed a new set. A start was made on this in October 1932 when the first Hindenburg set was issued, however it was decided in 1933 to change the colours and give each value its own colour, to help postal employees to sort the mail, for example green for 6 Rfg and carmine for 12 Rfg etc.
The lower values came into use very quickly, but the higher values came in as stocks of the older Weimar Republic were used up. It should be noted that Hindenburg was viewed as a "replacement Kaiser" in the 1920s and early 1930s, a link from the old imperial Germany and the new National Socialist Germany. So unlike most other stamp issues, the Hindenburg stamps were valid until May 1945, almost 11 years after Hindenburg died.
It was because that the printing works in Berlin were so busy mass producing the Hindenburg stamps during 1933, that very few other issues were printed during that year.
Examples of the postcards issued
The birthday of Martin Luther was celebrated in November 1933
1933 Zeppelin Airmail issue
The "Graf Zeppelin" attended the Chicago World Exhibition in 1933, the event was marked by the higher airmail values being overprinted with "Chicago Weltausstellung 1933".
These stamps would have been out of reach for the pockets of most philatelists in 1933, at that time 7 Reichsmark would have been a huge amount of money.
1st November 1933 Wagner charity set
This was a set of nine charity stamps and a picture postcard depicting Richard Wagner and his greatest works. These were the first stamps with swastika watermarks.
The Wagner set is actually two sets, as they were available in two sets of perforations, known to German philatelists as set A and set B. (I have only illustrated set A) I do have both. ("Wz4" refers to the swastika watermark).
29th November 1933 Charity Set
For the second time in one month a charity set was issued, this time using stamp designs from 1924 and overprinting them with "1923-1933". Ten years of German charity help.
(This set is one of the more expensive Third Reich sets and sadly the only set I am still missing, the gap is filled at the moment by copies illustrated below).
1933 Dienstmarken ( Official stamps)
These stamps were a colour change and continuation of the 1927-1932 set from the Weimar Republic, and as such had no swastika watermarks.
1933 (-1936) Hindenburg Series with Swastika Watermark
The German catalogues places this series at the end of 1933, although some of the stamps were not available until couple of years later.
The Hindenburg stamps from October 1932 to November 1933 were printed on paper with a Mesh watermark. It was then decided that the watermark would change to swastikas. However because huge stocks of stamps containing the Mesh watermark existed, it was more practical to introduce the new watermark when existing stocks had been used up. Even then it depended also on how many of the old stamps were on stock in the post offices store rooms. For example the Mesh watermarked 80 Rpg stamp was first printed on swastika paper in 1936.
Sometimes the watermark is so difficult to see, one really does need a watermark detector to spot the difference, even then I sometimes have difficulties. Yet other times holding the stamp up to sun light can be enough. The real difficulties are when the stamp is on cover. Unless one is prepared to purchase a piece of equipment for detecting watermarks on cover, the only option to prove a stamp has Mesh watermark, is to obtain a cover with a cancellation dated before the stamp was available with swastika watermark. Hindenburg stamps with Mesh or Swastika watermarks were BOTH valid until May 1945.