The Great War 3

The downfall of the Central Powers.


When Austria had declared war on Serbia, she was faced with fighting on 2 fronts,nl Serbia and Russia.

In this Empire, people spoke, apart from the dialects, 12 different languages and that made communications very difficult. In the Military they took care of postal communications with their own"Feldpost stamps".
They even had their own Military stamps for the newspapers.
In October 1914 the first war charity stamps appeared.

They were the two values of the Emperor Franz Joseph's 80th birthday stamps, inscribed 1914 and sold with 2 heller surcharge.

The war charity stamps of 1915, with a surcharge, showed how the war was fought and what with. Such as Infantry and Cavalry,

Artilery , the Navy

and the newly invented Airforce.

In 1916 Emperor Franz Joseph died and as his heir, the Archduke Ferdinand had been assassinated in Serajewo,(which started the war) his Grand-nephew Charles took over as the new Emperor.( Here seen on the new Feldpost stamps.)
And the new Royal Welfare stamps featured Empress Zita and Emperor Charles.
Bosnia-Herzogevina had a special relationship with the Empire. Originally Austria had been permitted to keep troops there, while it was under Ottoman administration. In 1908 Austria annexed the territory. So Bosnia-Herzogevina had their own Feldpost stamps and war charities.
The first War charity stamps in Bosnia, were 2 definitives overprinted with " 1914 and 7 or 12 Heller".
The war charity stamps in 1915 showed the serious part of warfare. A wounded soldier on one side and a blinded soldier being guided by a girl.
For urgent mail, the Military had special "Eilmarke" (expres stamps) as communications in those days were rather limited.
The War charity stamps of 1916 were of the same design as in 1915, but in different colour.
Then in 1916, new definitive military stamps were issued, featuring the Emperor Franz Joseph.
Two of those new definitives were overprinted in 1917 in aid of a special widows and orphans week.
When Franz Joseph died, the stamps of Bosnia-Herzegovina were also altered with a portrait of the new Emperor Charles.
New stamps appeared for the Royal Welfare Fund, with the faces of Charles and his wife Zita.

These were the same as in the rest of the Empire, only in different colours and nominations.

Then came the defeat in 1918 and the great Kingdom and Empire was stripped down to a small German speaking Austrian Republic. And the stamps were overprinted accordingly.
The new definitives in 1919 showed all the optimism of a new era. A single headed eagle and a young man planting a sapling. And also the parliament building.
The Treaty of St.Germain (between Allies and Austria) determined the borders of the new Austria and called for a plebiscite in Carinthia, as this area was disputed between Austria and the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

It was settled in Austria's favour.

The Treaty of St Germain also stipulated that Austria was to remain independent and not allowed to join up with Germany. Therefor the country's name had to change from German Austria to Austria.
Much of the Empire's territory was used to create new countries. Austria's income had declined enormously and because she had to pay reparations and cope with many returned soldiers, her economy was in tatters and created a huge inflation.
It was not until 1925 that a new currency was introduced and the situation became normal again. And that is how Austria fared after it had started and lost the war that would end all wars.

The downfall of the Central Powers.

Hungary, the other half of the Empire.

When the war broke out, Hungary was part of the Empire and had her own parliament and issued her own postage stamps. Emperor Franz Joseph was known in Hungary as King Ferenc Joseph of Hungary and wore the Hungarian Crown.
The first war charity stamps in 1914 and 1915 were overprinted definitives(The stamps that featured the Turul, the mythical bird of the Magyars).
The war charity stamps of 1916 were more war like: soldier in trenches, hand to hand combat and the turul defending her nest.
In 1916 the new definitives appeared. They were the "Harvester and Parliament issue", which would, through many overprints, tell the story of Hungary's fate in those turbulent years.
After Emperor Franz Joseph (King Ferenc Joseph) died, Hungary issued two stamps to celebrate the coronation of King Charles and Queen Zita.
These were soon followed by the new King Karoly lV (wearing the Hungarian Crown of Stephen) and Queen Zita definitives.
On November 16, 1918 Hungary capitulated and although King Charles did not abdicate, the country was proclaimed a Republic and the stamps were overprinted "Köstarsasag" (Republic).
The harvester series received the same overprint.
Michael Karolyi became the first President of the first " Republic of Hungary"on January 11 ,1919. His regime was marked with the release of the harvester series with the inscription "Magyar Posta", without the "kir" (abreviation for kiralyi= Royal). Being a pacifist, he immediately dismissed the army, so Hungary was left without a fighting force.
Marshal Louis Franchet d'Esperey was the Commander-in Chief of all Allied Forces on the Balkans, who staged a successful offensive in Macedonia, during September 1918, which knocked Bulgaria out of the war. He then overran much of the Balkans and by the end of the war had penetrated well into Hungary. He occupied the south-eastern districts with the town Arrad as his headquarters.

In November 1918, President Karolyi went to Belgrad to conclude an armistice with Marshal Franchet, who treated him very badly. He told Karolyi that he had the fate of Hungary in his hands and could destroy the country by letting its neighbours loose on her, which subsequently happened.

In November 1918 the Serbian army invaded the western part of Hungary. And whatever Harvester stamps, (before and after the revolution), they could lay their hands on, were overprinted with "Baranya 1919".
The Serb army also occupied the territory of Temesvar, where these overprinted stamps were used. The area was later incorporated in Romania.
The same happened in Banat Bacska. This area was first occupied by the Serbian army and later divided between Romania and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
In March 1919, the French handed Karolyi a note defining the final postwar bounderies. These were unacceptable to Karolyi, so he resigned and turned power over to a new government of social-democrats and communists.

The communist leader Bela Kun took over and promised to restore Hungary's original borders, with Russia's help. He immediately raised an army and tried to retake Transsylvania, which had been taken by Romania.

One of his first acts was to declare Hungary a Soviet Republic and this event was celebrated with a set of stamps featuring Marx and Engels, besides Hungarian patriots.
Soon after that the Harvester and Parliament stamps were overprinted with: "Magyar Tanacskoztarsasag" (Hungarian Soviet Republic).
Although the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 did not last long, it was commemmorated 35 years later, when Hungary belonged to the Eastern Block in 1954.
The war against Romania to retake Transylvania went very wrong for Bela Kun and his army (as he did not get any assistance from Russia). After the battle of Tisza in August 1919, the Romanians entered Budapest and Bela Kun fled to Austria and later to Russia.
The Romanians occupied the greater part of Hungary and overprinted stamps in the "Debrecen" area with "Zona de ocupatie 1919 Romana"
In other areas Hungarian stamps were overprinted with "Regatul Romaniei" (Kingdom of Romania) and Romanian currency.
Even the early "Turul" stamps and the war charity ones were overprinted.
The South-Eastern part around Arrad, which was under French occupation, used Hungarian stamps overprinted with: "Occupation Française".
With these stamps, it seems that the Republic overprint occurred after the French occupation.
During the occupation , a new National Government was set up in Szeged, led by Admiral Horthy. There they used Hungarian stamps, overprinted with: "Magyar Nemzeti Kormany Szeged 1919" (Hungarian National Government Szeged 1919).
Miklos Horthy was the Commander-in-Chief of the Austrian Hungarian fleet in 1918.

After the Romanian army left Budapest in November 1919, Horthy entered Budapest at the head of the National army. In March 1920, the National Assembly reestablished the Kingdom of Hungary, did not recall King Charles, but installed Admiral Horthy as Head of State. Later he was elected to Regent, with most of the perogatives of a King.

For the next 24 years, Hungary would be a Kingdom without a King, ruled by an Admiral without a Navy in a country without a coastline.

On June 4, 1920 the representatives of the Horthy government signed the Treaty of Trianon in the Grand Trianon Palace at Versailles, whereby the new post war borders of Hungary were defined. Hungary lost 60% of her territory; Transylvania went to Romania, Croatia to the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Fiume became a Free city and Slovakia went to Czechoslovakia. The status of Burgenland (West Hungary) was to be decided by plebiscite, as this stamps shows. It was awarded to Austria.
The overprint of the "Hungarian Soviet Republic" was completely obliterated with a wheatsheaf and 1919 on the Harvester issue and two stalks of grain and 1919 on the Parliament issue.
The "Returning Prisoner of War" stamps were the next issue of the "Horthy" government.

Returning POW

POW camp

Family reunion

In 1920 the Harvester serie reemerged, but as Hungary was a Kingdom (without a King), they were inscribed "Kir" (Royal) again. As there was a very high inflation, the value nominations were much higher than before.
And in 1921 the last overprint for the Harvester stamps was for postage due and high nominations, because of the inflation.
And in 1930 the country celebrated 10 years of Regency by issuing these stamps, featuring the Regent, Admiral Horthy.

The downfall of the Central Powers.


When the war began in 1914, German public opinion was divided. Some viewed the war as defensive against Czarist Russia, while others saw it as a chance to glorify imperialist expansion.

The man responsible to set the country's economy on a war footing, was Walther Rathenau. He organised regulation and synthetic manufacture. Later he became minister of Foreign Affairs in the Weimar Republic and was assassinated in office.

In 1916 the Kaiser lost control and the Military Supreme Command took charge of military and political decisions. They instituted censorship and only good news and victories were reported.

The first rebellion started on June 6 1917, when the sailors of the German navy (SKS "Prince Regent Leopold") went on hunger strike.

The two ringleaders, Albin Kobis and MarkReichpietsch were court marshalled and executed on September 5, 1917.

On September 29 1918, the Supreme Command, realising that all her Allies had been defeated and Germany could not make good, the losses she had sustained asked for an immediate Armistice.

On October23, President Wilson told Germany to get rid of the Kaiser or face complete surrender.

The Kaiser fled to Holland on November 9, but did not officially abdicate until November 28 1918. The new Chancelor, Friedrich Ebert, the leader of the Social Democrats, formed the new Government.

The Government told the German Armistice delegation, headed by Mathias Erzberger to sign the Armistice twerms at Compiegne.

The new Weimar Republic was proclaimed on November9 1918, but did not assemble until July 1 1919 and a special set of stamps were issued for that.

In December 1918, there was a confrontation in Berlin where the sailors of the "Volksmarine" occupied buildings and took Otto Wels, the Governor of Berlin, hostage.

Otto Wels was later released and became famous in 1933, when he was the only Social Democrat who spoke against Hitler's Enabling Act. He was forced to flee into exile after that.

On January 6 1919 the "Spartakists", which were the communists, headed by Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxenburg and Wilhelm Pieck, organised a general strike and occupied buildings in Berlin.

On January 13 1919, the revolt was completely suppressed and Liebknecht and Luxenburg were killed.

Wilhelm Pieck escaped and became the first President of East Germany in 1950.

The kingdom of Bavaria, although they were part of the German Reich, maintained the right to issue their own postage stamps.

In 1913 Ludwig iii became King of Bavaria and his portrait was on the stamps , that were issued in 1914, when the war broke out.

Shortly before the war ended on November 8 1918, a socialist revolution unseated the unpopular King Ludwig and Bavaria was declared a "Peoples Republic" (Volksstaat).Elections in February 1919 paved the way for the Communists to declare Munich a Soviet Republic.
A coalition of Prussian and Bavarian troops fought a battle against the Red Army in May 1919. The Communist lost and the communist episode was over. On May 5 1919, Bavaria became a "Free State" with a new Constitution.
Even the stock of Imperial stamps were over printed.
In early 1920, Bavaria issued her own stamps again.
Later that year, the postal services of Bavaria were amalgamated with the Weimar Republic and the Bavarian stamps were over printed "Deutches Reich".

The Kingdom of Württemberg transformed from a Kingdom into a Republic, without blood shed.

King Wilhelm ll abdicated on November 30 1918 and Württemberg became a Republic. The stamps were overprinted "Volksstaat Württemberg" and postal services later amalgamated into the Weimar Republic.


The "peace" treaty of the war that would end all wars !!!

It was the Peace treaty between Germany and the Allied Powers and it forced Germany to accept sole responsibility for causing the war and all the damage and Germany paid a heavy price for it.

She had to agree to a great many military restrictions and a great loss of territory. Her colonies went like this:

German Kamaroon and Togo were divided by France and Britain

German Ost Afrika went to Great Britain and became the Republic of Tanzania in 1964

German Süd-West Afrika went to the Union of South Africa and became the Republic of Namibia in 1990

The Marshall Islands and the Carolines went to Japan and became a US trust territory after WW2 and became independent in 1986.

The German concessions in China went to Japan, while China had hoped to get those back.

German Samoa, which was occupied by New Zealand troops, went to New Zealand and became independent in 1962.

The German colonies of New Guinea and Nauru went to Australia and later became the Republic of Nauru and the Republic of Papua-New Guinea in 1975.

She had to return Alsace Lorraine to France, which she had taken in 1870.Hitler took it back in 1940, but in 1945 it was returned to France

Northern Schleswig had a plebiscite, after which it was returned to Denmark.
The eastern part of Upper Silesia was assigned to Poland after a plebiscite.
Eupen-Malmedy was given to Belgium and in 1940 triumphanticly retaken by Hitler's forces.

The Northern part of East Prussia was placed under control of France and later annexed by Lithuania and was renamed Klaipeda.
The Prussian city of Danzig was to become a "Free City", with a corridor to give Poland access to the Baltic.

In 1939 Hitler's army "liberated" Danzig again, but in 1945 it became permanent Polish territory.

The coal rich territory of the Saar was to be under control of the United Nations and all coal had to be send to France for the next 15 years. After that, a plebiscite would decide its future.

A plebiscite would decide whether Marienwerder would be Polish or German.

A similar plebiscite would decide the fate of Allenstein

To make sure that Germany would not default on her payments, the Rhineland would be occupied by Allied Forces 15 years. Marshall Foch said it so well, when he said :"This is not a peace, but an armistace of twenty years." And how right he was.
And this concludes my story of the first world war on postage stamps.
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