Lanarkshire Philatelic Society

 

 

David Haig

"The German Democratic Republic"

 

David, our Treasurer, introduced his display on "The German Democratic Republic" (better known to you, and me, as East Germany) by going into some detail on its background. The country was born out of the ashes of World War 2 when, the defeated, Germany was split into four zones, each being controlled by one of the allied powers. East Germany, the Soviet zone, became a notorious dictatorship with an equally notorious secret service, the "Stasi" who were never infiltrated. Amongst the notable statistics of the period were the Berlin blockades of 1949 during which all supplies (2.2 million tonnes) were airlifted into the city & the building of the Berlin Wall (1961) to ensure East Berliners stayed. 

East Germany's first stamps were issued in 1949 and were, like their covers, rather plain. Most issues incorporated a "key" value (a stamp whose print run is much less than other stamps of the issue thus making it much more difficult to complete the set) and many of the issues revolved around "solidarity" stamps ("Help the Egyptians" or "Support the Hungarians", both 1956). Propaganda played a major role in many of their issues. Also on show were "Official Stamps", only for use on inter-departmental government mails and which had many changes in design, watermarks and colours. So complicated did they become they were discontinued in 1965. David concluded his first round by explaining the reason for the demolition of the Berlin Wall; Coffee!! East Germans couldn't buy "real" coffee as the country didn't have "hard" currency with which to buy it! The natives, as they say, got restless and the rest is history. A board of "re-unification" covers completed the round.

For his second round David produced 80 (at least) double sided sheets containing at least 4, or even5, stamp issues per side!! East Germany was a prolific stamp issuing country, using stamps in a blatant attempt to raise foreign currency. Stamps were even pre-printed CTO (cancelled to order) especially for the philatelic market. Some stamps were actually used for postal purposes, and most sets, of course, printed with a "key" value. Any excuse was used for their themes which ranged from celebrations to "Freedom" to Olympic Games to trains, trams, spacecraft, aircraft, flowers paintings and, frequently, national "achievements". David concluded his display by showing a souvenir piece of the Berlin Wall, some Ostmarks (currency coins) and medals (Gold, Silver and Bronze) given for many, and various, reasons to postal workers. 

Ray Baldock, also a collector of German material, proposed the vote of thanks in his own inimitable manner.