The first stamps of GERMANY after the unification were issued in January 1872. There were stamps issued from
1849 in Bavaria and then other German states right up to 1870, but they are before our present stock.
The first period is called Empire under Emperor Wilheim 1 and then in March 1888 was ruled by
Emperor Friedrich 111 and Emperor Wilheim 11 (June 1888) until 1918.
Originally the stamps were issued in groschen and thaler currencies as well as kreuzer and
gulden until 1875 when only pfennig and marks were used.
In the 1920's Europe was engulfed in a wave of military nationalism when in 1922 Mussolini established the
first Fascist dictatorship. The word Fascist is taken from the Ancient roman word Fasces, which
was the name of the bundle of rods with an axe in the middle. The Fasces was carried by the lictors (officers
executing sentence on offenders) before the chief magistrates as symbols of their authority over life and limb. This was followed
by Turkey , Poland , Portugal , Yugoslavia , Germany , Austria , Bulgaria , Estonia+Lettland
, Lithuania , Spain , Greece , and Rumania .
After the First World War the Weimar Republic period starts issuing
President von Hindenburg
stamps from May 1919 and continues until January 1933. The peace treaty of Versailles in 1919 made Germany
and its allies pay high reparations for damaged caused in World War 1 and Germany had to surrender large parts of its country.
Areas like West Prussia, North Slesvig, Danzig, Eupen+Malmedy and Memel among others were lost. During this post WW1 period,
the value of the German mark steadily deteriorated and faced with budgetary deficits, governments followed a practice of issuing
more money to meet its expenses. During 1922 the value of the mark against U.S.$ fell from 162 marks to more than 7,000 marks.
Where as before 1914 the rate had been 4.2 marks to the dollar. On April 27, 1921 the Allied Reparation Commission fixed the
total War Reparation to be paid at 132,000,000,000 gold marks, and this led to the current government to resign. This of course
led to further problems and a further occupation of German lands followed. This occupation vastly worsened the economic situation.
As a result of this and a plebiscite and the League of Nations ruling that by July 1, 1923 the mark had fallen to 160,000
to the U.S.$ . By November 20, 1923 it was down to 4,200,000,000,000 to the dollar. Barter was the order of the day and food
riots broke out. Finally on December 1, 1923 the mark was revalued at 1,000,000,000,000 [billion] [or North American 1 trillion]
to 1 new mark.
The German president operated the government by emergency decree from 1930 with chancellor Bruning [1930-1932]
followed by von Papen and then Kurt von Schleicher. A very traumatic period this, with raging inflation and high unemployment
which led to the forming of the Third Reich. (January 1933 - May 1945).
In 1933 Hitler became chancellor with the help of a very old president von Hindenburg and ex chancellor von
Papen..........a few months later he declared himself dictator of Germany and banned all political parties except for his
own NSDAP. Germany rebuild its roads and unified its labour unions and reduced unemployment as well as reforming the army.
In 1936 Germany formed a military alliance with Italy which was called the Rome-Berlin Axis and later on in
1940 this was extended to include Japan.
On the 12th of March 1938 troops invaded Austria and met no opposition and the next day the proclamation of
the union of Germany and Austria was made. In March 1939 Germany broke the Munich Pact and occupied the Czech part of Czechoslovakia
and so forming the protectorate Bohmen+Mahren. On the morning of the 1st of September 1939 the invasion of Poland began, without
any declaration of war and then after three days World War II had begun......
Spring 1940 saw the invasion of Denmark and Norway and later in May the neutral countries of Holland, Luxembourg
and Belgium were invaded as well as France.
The influence of GERMAN stamps is wide spread, with issues in Africa, the Far East, and the Pacific. As well
as occupied areas during the First and Second World Wars. This makes Germany one of the most interesting areas of philatelic
interest and study.
After the second World War, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation and the Allied Military Post
and the American, British, French, and Russian Zones were set up with their own stamp issues. The Anglo-American zones used
the same stamps. The French zone issued a general set of stamps and then split issues into the territories of Baden, Rhineland-Palatinate,
and Wurtemberg. The Russian zone issues were from 1945-46 for six different provincial administrations, and then used the
general issues [see the Anglo-American stamps] until re-valuation of currency in June 1949. Stamps in use were then a separate
issue until the German Democratic Republic was formed. In 1949 the German Democratic Republic (D.D.R.) and the German Federal
Republic (West Germany) was formed and started to issue stamps in October and September 1949 respectively. West Berlin comprising
of the British, American and French zones also started to issue it's own stamps which were West German stamps with the word
Berlin added to the text.
On the re-unification of Germany on the 3rd of October 1990 the Berlin wall separating East and West Berlin
was pulled down and the last stamps issued by the D.D.R. were in October of that year, and Berlin issues on the 27th September
1990 when East Germany was re-united with the Western area. From April 1995 all stamp issues replace the Deutsche Bundespost
inscription with Deutschland, the first change since 1950.The next major change will be on the 1st January 2002
when the Euro will become the main currency in Europe.
This all makes for a varied and interesting area of stamp collecting and one that is both fascinating and
rewarding for the collector. Besides the normal issues there are charity stamps, official and military field post, overprints,
inflation, occupied areas, varieties, propaganda and overseas usage.