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1938 “WIR SIND FREI” overprints of Czechoslovakia

The swift invasion by German forces of the Czech Sudetenland on the 1st Oct 1938 led to the local issuing of regular and commemorative stamps overprinted “Wir Sind Frei”, We are Free. Issues are listed by Michel for the towns of Asch, Karlsbad, Konstantinsbad, Maffersdorf, Niklasdorf, Reichenberg and Rumberg.

Both philatelic and highly propagandist it was assumed that the speed of the invasion left no time for issuing German stamps although current belief is that most of the issues had been prepared in anticipation of the event. Nonetheless apart from some of the Rumberg issues they are scarce with many issued in numbers of less than 100.

At the end of WWI, from the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the country of Czechoslovakia was created including the Czech and Slovak peoples, 3 million people of German ethnicity from the Sudetenland border areas and smaller numbers of Hungarian, Ukrainian and Polish peoples.

In 1938 after the successful integration of Austria into the German Reich as part of its desire for Lebensraum, Hitler turned his attention to the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia. Cleverly manipulating the other major powers of the day by a series of deceptive promises known as the policy of “Appeasement”, Hitler was able to invade the Sudetenland unopposed on the 1st Oct 1938 and then the rest of the country in March the following year. The ease of this process lead eventually to the invasion of Poland on 1st September 1939 and thence to the beginning of WWII.


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