Post by I.L.S. on Dec 22, 2013 10:34:29 GMT
OK, first I want to say that these stamps are not mine. I have had this file for a post on my external hard-drive for a few months time and I'm not sure where it came from, so if this is a member's previous post on another forum by all means let me know and I'll whack it or, if approved, accredit the original author. Otherwise it's a very interesting subject. OK, on with the show!
Also, I'm not exactly sure where this post should go? Germany perhaps? Cinderella's?
Male citizens of the British Empire (as well as other allied nations) caught up in Germany at the beginning of World War I were imprisoned at a civilian detention camp located in Ruhleben, Germany (10 km west of Berlin). By the end of November 1914, British males still in Germany between the ages of 17 and 55 had been rounded up and interned in this camp. Internees were also from Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Jamaica. They were mainly sailors, academics, musicians, businessmen, clerks, students, workmen, waiters, fishermen and domestic servants.
Supposedly in order to ease boredom, the German authorities allowed the camp detainees to open an internal postal service, using their own stamps, postal stationery and postal cards. Needless to say, this postal service was quite distinct from the official camp mail service.
The postal service was called the Ruhleben Express Delivery service (RXD) and was organized by Albert Kamps. According to Frank Bachenheimer's A Postal History Study of the Ruhleben P.O.W. Camp 1914-1918, the postal service was set up as follows:
"Mr. Albert Kamps drafted a plan in late Spring of 1915 for the establishment of an internal post office. (Whether or not Mr. Kamps was a philatelist is unknown). The proposal was approved by the authorities and Mr. Powell was sent to Berlin (under guard) to buy the supplies. Mr. Kamps provided for twenty-five post-boxes to be placed in various parts of the camp. Prisoners who were poor or who had little talent to offer the general camp life were paid to deliver mail, empty boxes, and bring mail to and from the central office."
The postal service was officially started in July 1915. Sixteen stamps valued in English pence were issued with 2 dies, all perf. 11½. The postal rate for letters and cards up to 50 grams was ⅓ d and ½ d for above 50 grams. Approximately 6,000 pieces of mail were handled monthly.
⅓ d black stamp:
overprint with new value:
½ d green and blue stamp:
an "official" stamp:
The postal service did not last long. In October 1915, a German stamp magazine carried an article about the private Ruhleben camp postal system and some of its readers complained to the authorities since private postal services in Germany were illegal at the time. The Germans closed the service on 3rd April 1916 and Mr. Kamps was sentenced to 3 weeks solitary confinement.
The remaining stock of stamps and stationery was seized and most of it destroyed. What has remained is very collectible and of course, very subject to fakes and forgeries.
The prisoners were released in November 1918 and one has to very much admire their ingenuity in making the best out of a bad situation.
"You mustn't suppose that the camp was always like this. When the men were first brought here, the place wasn't fit to keep pigs in. All that you have admired in the camp they have themselves created." Count Schwerin, Commandant of Ruhleben, Summer of 1916.