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Postal History

Inter-Camp Polish Post in Germany in 1945
During the second world war a large number of Polish people were taken to Germany. Some as prisoners, some as forced labour, some were taken into the armed forces and some were simply made to move to live in Germany. In the last days of the war the Germans were in a panic and very disorganized. They evacuated and moved many of these people about in a very disorganized way. With the ending of the war in April 1945 many of these people found themselves in new locations separated from their family, their friends and even their fellow workers with whom they had been working a only short time before. 

The Polish people, of their own initiative, prepared lists of people   in each of the camps and these lists were then distributed to other camps. People started to write one another, however the postal system was non existent. Polish committees were formed in Bremen, Hamburg, Bergedorf, Lubeck, Cologne, Hannover, Munich and other locations. It was these committees who organised the movement of mail between the camps and decided to organise an Inter Camp Post  for the Polish refugees within the British, US and French sectors of Germany. 

With the increasing amount of Inter Camp mail the costs escalated and nobody would agree to cover these costs. So it was decided that a nominal charge would be made for all mail sent between camps and all mail going "abroad" should be free of charge. A number of stamps were produced in different camps - Lubeka, Pohls, Spakenberg & Havkruk  - during May and June of 1945. Other stamps were produced after this - the money collected from the sale of these was used for charity purposes and was not used to pay the costs of postage.

This letter form was produced in June1945 and was withdrawn from use at end of October 1945. This example has German stamps with a German postmark of 21 May 1946, many months after its withdrawal. It also has the normal Polish Inter-Camp postmark without a date.

The Allied occupation authorities were on a number of occasions informed of the existence of this Inter Camp Post and  they promised that they would arrange for a free postal service between camps in a few months. Meanwhile they would accept any mail for onward transmission to other countries subject to a number of conditions - the letters could only be written on one side of a sheet of paper and they could not have any franking or stamps on them. The letters that were handed in for onward transmission were then handstamped with

D. P. Post


Ex P. O. W. Post

In July of 1945 the Polish Army Field Post Office took over the running of the Inter Camp Post and all mail was then made free of charge. After the Polish Army took over the running of the post some camps produced labels which were affixed to letters. These camps were Dachau, Ettlingen, Freiman, Helmstedt, Meden. 

Following the mass repatriation of Poles in 1946/7 the need for an inter-camp post ceased and the remaining Poles had to make use of the normal German Post.

A postcard written, by one of the many Poles being repatriated, en-route to Poland from Mannheim on 17 May 1946
Translated the message reads "I am writing this enroute. We have 65km to the Czech border. The journey has not been pleasant, it is cold, we are hungry and it's uncomfortable. I will try to write to you again enroute. The Major is with us, he decided to come at the last minute. I send greetings to you and the Captain." 

© 2001 Jan Kosniowski

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