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Tuesday 9 April 2013

Last Chance To Write: More Examples from World War Two

This Blog post continues the theme of the previous one.

In the Spring of 1939, Czechoslovakia was broken up into Slovakia - which became a client state of Nazi Germany - and Bohemia & Moravia, a German Protectorate in which German control tightened as time passed.

The ordinary letter below was posted in Bratislava on 31 August 1939 [Poland was invaded on 3 September] and was censored both before leaving [straight line CENZUROVANÉ ] and on arrival in Palestine [pink British censor tape]. There is a mark "bav" which I do not recognise. The pencilled note at the bottom of the cover gives an arrival date of 14 November 1939. As with many covers of this period, a stamp is missing. This is not usually the work of a child peeling off a stamp for a collection. It is the work of a Censor, looking for hidden messages under the stamps [Click on Image to Magnify]:

The Air Mail cover below is postmarked PRAHA 6 IX 39, three days after the Invasion of Poland,  and was subject to Exchange Control inspection - there are white labels on the back and on the front a violet circular D.K. PRAHA 7 cachet [ D.K. = devisovou kontrolou]. It was censored on arrival in Palestine [white British censor tape] but there is no indication of date of arrival or of the air route followed. The cover looks philatelic or is possibly disguised as philatelic, using the new stamps of Bohemia and Moravia:

The final cover shown below does show a route followed, but from the period before the creation of Bohemia and Moravia. Sent Registered and Air Mail from MORAVSKA OSTRAVA  31 X 38, it was censored [ boxed Censurováno ] and passed through Prague Airport  [PRAHA LETISTE 2 XI 38], transiting NAPOLI FERROVIA CORRISP. (POSTA AREA) 4 11 38. Arrival is shown by REGISTERED JERUSALEM 5 NO 38 and REGISTERED TEL AVIV 6 NO 38. 

In this case, my guess is that the high state of alert in Czechoslovakia led the Censor to damage the stamps, Air Mail label and Registration label in a search for  hidden messages. This would be provoked by sight [ top left] of the sender's business: someone who deals in American oil and English grease is involved in a strategically important trade! Of course, it could be a child who did this but it is the frequency with which one sees covers like this that makes me think that it is the work of Censors:

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