30/08/2012 Germany, Colonies, States & Areas, Czechoslovakia
German Occupation of Bohemia and Moravia
As Nazi forces rolled across Europe, they left a fascinating philatelic legacy. Little good came from this dark period, and yet students of history can at least enjoy the stamps and postal markings that tell such a vivid story - of shifting borders, the creation of phoney states, and mass civilian and military upheaval.
In our past sales we offered two collections of postal history, one relating to the German Occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, and the other relating to the German Occupation of Poland.
Bohemia and Moravia was established in March 1939, by the Proclamation of Adolf Hitler from Prague Castle. Created as a Protectorate of Nazi Germany, from parts of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, the entire area is now within the Czech Republic. The Occupation was a period of brutal oppression, with Czech losses in this small area totalling in the region of 50,000, and Jewish population deaths in excess of 70,000 people.
During this period, there were many acts of individual bravery. Most will never be reported, but one famous incident was the assasination of Reinhard Heydrich, by two Czechs, trained in Scotland by the British SOE (Special Operations Executive). Having ambushed the supreme Nazi Commander of Bohemia and Moravia on his way to a meeting with Hitler (he was head of the SD, Gestapo, Kripo & Chief of Police amongst other things), the two Czechs cornered Reydrich and mortally wounded him. The hometowns of the two attackers were destroyed in reprisal, and after Heydrich's lavish funeral, a special miniature sheet containing a black stamp and Heydrich's ghostly deathmask, was given to those who had attended the occasion. The item remains to be a rarity.
In common with many areas, the postal services were in a state of flux during the early periods of German occupation. A fascinating philatelic picture is created through combinations of existing stamps, newly created stamps (often overprinted issues), and the use of German stamps on official and military German mail.