European Stamps From the 1940s & 1950s

Written by timothy burns
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European Stamps From the 1940s & 1950s
Stamps issued before, during and after World War II commemorated key people and events. (NA/ Images)

Europe was immersed in World War II and its aftermath between 1940 and 1950, so stamps from this period have historical importance. Countries changed their monetary systems after entering and recovering from the war; stamps often feature military and patriotic themes. For example, European nations signed the Treaty of Rome and issued a set of 13 stamps in 1956. These stamps became essential in rebuilding the continent, as money from their sales helped fund reconstruction across Germany, France, Italy, Holland and Luxembourg.

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German War Era Stamps

Stamps depicting important cities during World War II are valuable collectibles. Leipzig, for example, is depicted in a 1940 stamp publicising its annual fair. Prewar Austrian stamps are popular collectibles. Hitler Dauermarke was a stamp issued as a propaganda tool for the Third Reich; it features Adolf Hitler's profile. Tag der Briefmarke was another German stamp issued under the Nazi controlled government in an attempt to organise an "International Stamp Day." Goldschmiedekunst stamps -- it means gold-smithery, or the art of making beautiful statues out of gold -- were issued with engraved images of gold icons, in an attempt to say to the world that the Third Reich was a wealthy power. These stamps were all intended to promote a new German identity on the world stage.

Russian Wartime Stamps

Russia's cultural identification with its military might was featured on stamps beginning in the 20th century as early as 1913. As it entered the war, its postage stamps returned to the themes of the unified soldier-comrade-citizen, and the authority of leader Joseph Stalin. Some of the most rare Russian stamps from this period depict Stalin in conference with other world leaders and as a powerful Russian statesman. Also During World War II, a stamp depicting hero Alexander Chekalin was issued in 1942. Another stamp published during World War II featured the image of Lev Dovator, a major general. After World War II, Russia issued postage stamps to commemorate its victory in the war and celebrating its position as a world power.

British and French Stamps

In early days of World War II, Britain and France cooperated politically and militarily, and wanted to commemorate their long history together with a postage stamp. Through a number of negotiations, a stamp representing the relationship of these two nations was designed and proofs printed for final approval; however, it was later abandoned. Although the project started in 1940, by the time approvals were obtained, the French had been overrun by German forces, and its government had more important issues than approving commemorative postage stamps.

U.S. Wartime Stamps

The U.S. issued Iwo Jima flag-raising stamps during 1945 to honour the Marine Corps and the iconic photo taken after U.S. forces invaded the island. The famous World War II photograph in which a Marine raised the American flag on the Japanese island was used to design the stamp. United States post-World War II stamps followed a consistent pattern for years, commemorating battles, and ultimate victories, in Japanese and European theatres. As late as 1995 the U.S. issued a commemorative set of stamps for the 50th anniversary of V.E. day. Purple Heart With Ribbon Forever stamps are still printed, as a way of remembering those who gave their lives during the great global conflict.

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