by Karen Lemiski

The stamps of Regensburg, Camp Ganghofersiedlung

Dear Readers:

This month's feature is the first of an occasional series of "guest articles" by other members of the Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society. These pieces will enable Weekly readers to become exposed to a broader spectrum of philatelic topics. I hope you will enjoy them.

Karen Lemiski received a Ph.D. in history from Arizona State University. She is the current editor of the Rossica Journal, the official publication of the Rossica Society of Russian Philately.

- Ingert Kuzych

By the end of World War II, approximately 6 million people had been uprooted from their homelands and fled to Austria, Italy and the western part of Germany, which was then occupied by the American, British and French armies. Most of these were labor conscripts, prisoners of war, concentration camp prisoners and other victims of war.

Among these displaced persons (DPs) were more than 200,000 Ukrainians, who were either caught in wartime combat or unable to return to their Soviet-occupied homeland.

In 1946 Ukrainian refugees were interned in 125 camps, and in 1949 in 110 camps - about 80 of these camps were predominantly or completely Ukrainian. Between 1945 and 1949, Regensburg was the site of the largest DP camp in Germany. At its peak in 1946-1947, the workers' district of Ganghofersiedlung housed almost 5,000 Ukrainian and 1,000 non-Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons.

With the approval of the authorities, some camps in the American zone organized their own postal services that were responsible for: the acceptance of incoming mail delivered by the German post office and its distribution within the camp; the collection of all pieces of mail within the camp and its delivery to other German post offices; and the transmittal of all intra-camp correspondence.

To obtain funds for administering these postal systems, postal rates were established and postage stamps were issued. The permission to print and sell the stamps was granted by the U.S. Military Government. For internal correspondence, only camp stamps were needed. For mail sent to addresses within the camp from other centers, it was necessary to affix camp stamps to pay for the services provided by the local camp post. Finally, because the German postal system did not recognize the camp stamps, German stamps were required in addition to the camp stamps for all mail destined beyond the camp. Despite these conventions, most surviving mail from the settlements lacks the DP stamps and cancels. The cards and covers are most easily recognized as having gone through the camp postal services by the addresses of the senders and recipients.

In Regensburg, the camp postal service began operation on December 11, 1946. For mail passing through the Regensburg system, the camp cancellation consisted of a ring with the words "Ukrainian Camp Post" in both Ukrainian (top) and English (bottom) inside, and the name of the camp in both languages across the center of the ring (Figure 1).

Not only was Ganghofersiedlung the first Ukrainian DP camp to issue its own stamps, but among the camps it was also the most prolific stamp-issuer: 36 stamps were produced over an 18-month period between June 1947 and December 1948. The designs were produced by three, well-known Ukrainian artists who were residents of the camp: Sviatoslav Hordynsky, Antin Maliutsa and Myron Bilynsky.

The first series of stamps appeared on June 30, 1947. Eight stamps showed views of Regensburg and Ganghofersiedlung, the emblem of the United Nation's Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, portraits of Taras Shevchenko and Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, and the trident emblem (figure 2).

A set of stamps issued in October 1947 reproduced traditional Ukrainian folk costumes from Bukovyna, Pollisia, Podilia, Poltava, and the Kuban regions as well as of the Lemko, Boyko and Hutsul groups. This series is clearly identified as being a charity issue by the two figures of denomination that are linked by a "+" sign. The cost of the stamps was the sum of the two figures: the first amount represents the amount for postage and the second indicates the amount being devoted to welfare causes within the Regensburg camp. If all the stamps had been sold, 26,000 DM would have been raised for the camp charities (Figure 3).

Five stamps were then issued between 1947-1848 that combined the trident emblem with important dates from Ukraine's history: June 30, 1941, the declaration of Ukraine's independence by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists; November 1, 1918, the formation of the Western Ukrainian National Republic; January 22, 1918, the declaration of the Fourth Universal, which established the Ukrainian National Republic; January 22, 1919, the unification of the Western Ukrainian National Republic with the Ukrainian National Republic; and March 15, 1939, the proclamation of Carpatho-Ukraine's independence.

In June 1948 a commemorative set of four stamps was released to celebrate the centennial of the "Spring of Nations" in western Ukraine. The first stamp combines a torch and newspaper to mark the publication of the first Ukrainian-language newspaper, Zoria Halytska. The second stamp features two young soldiers as representatives of the paramilitary national guard. The third design was of a peasant plowing his fields, which recalled the abolition of serfdom. The final stamp in the series carried the portrait of Hryhorii Yakhymovych, who was the auxiliary bishop of the Greek-Catholic community in Lviv in 1848. It was under his leadership that the Supreme Ruthenian Council was established (figure 4).

In addition to these official stamps, several other issues were produced in Regensburg. Most of these were prepared as a means of raising funds for camp schools. In March 1947 a souvenir sheet was sold in conjunction with a Shevchenko festival with profits donated to the Ukrainian grade school in Regensburg, while another sheet was issued in May 1947 for support of the Ukrainian Technical and Husbandry Institute at Ganghofersiedlung.

In 1948 a special edition of 500 decorative folders for the stamps from Regensburg was prepared. An inscription in gold on the front cover reads "Ukrainian Camp Post Regensburg" in Ukrainian, English and German. It is surrounded by a red border of stylized leaves. Another interesting item from Regensburg is a label that was created in May 1948 for the émigré youth organization SUM, which was established in Germany in 1946 by members of the Bandera faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. When a chapter of SUM was created in Regensburg in May 1948, a commemorative design was prepared. It combined the trident emblem that had been used on the earlier camp stamps with the phrase "under the banner of SUM."

When the International Refugee Organization ordered the Ganghofersiedlung settlement closed, its remaining population of about 1,200 people was moved to other locations in Bavaria and Würtemberg. The majority of the internees from Regensburg, including the camp administration, were relocated to the Ulm-Donau Sedankaserne in November 1949. A new postal system was established there in May 1950. The remaining stamps from the Regensburg costume series were overprinted "Ulm/D." to reflect the new issuing authority. The stamps were also given new values as a result of a revaluation of currency in Germany.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, February 4, 2001, No. 5, Vol. LXIX

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