(Inspired by two pages of stamps acquired at a club sale.)
By Ken Perkins
Early morning, March 20, 1920, Grafing, Germany, a suburb of Munich.
“Servus, Fritz. I’m surprised to see you here in our little post office so early this chilly morning. Do you have something to mail? Or can I get you some stamps to take home?”
“Well, some stamps, yes. But not the usual little ones, you know, those 3 or 5 pfennigs.”
“Ach, you’ve got something big to mail…maybe a package for your sister Hilda in Berlin?”
“No, no, something a bit unusual, Walter. I want a little collection of our own Bavarian stamps before they disappear. You know, the ones with old Ludwig on them. We won’t see him on any stamps anymore. Or anywhere else, probably.”
“Yah, what a mess. First Ludwig gives up and holes up in one of his castles, and we get this fellow Eisner and his republic. Then Eisner’s assassinated and poor old Ludwig runs off to Hungary.”
“I think he’s in Switzerland now.”
“I don’t know; last month it was what, Liechtenstein?”
“Liechtenstein, yes. A country you could toss a beer stein across! His Majesty the King, indeed.”
“Anyway, Walter, I want some nice Bavarian stamps for my children to have, to remember the old homeland.
Maybe one of each of the Ludwigs?”
“One of each! That will cost you a bit, Fritz. Remember, we’ve got these new ones with ‘Volkstaat’ on them too.”
“Ach, I forgot those. Eisner again, with his ‘Free Peoples’ State of Bavaria’. So I’ll need two of everything?”
“Right, two. And the most expensive ones are 20 Marks,”
“Marks, not Pfennig?”
“That’s a lot of money, Walter. But Bavaria’s just about finished, so it’s a remembrance.
They’ll probably even paint the postboxes a different color. Besides, we just sold that old land of my father’s up in Landshut, so I can afford a little luxury. But don’t tell Marie…there’ll be no end of it if you do.”
“You mean it’ll be the end of you, Fritz! Did you sell with or without the cows?”
“With. But there were only two scrawny ones left anyway.”
“Alright, let me get the sheets of stamps. I just got some new ones; here, I’ll cut them from the bottom edge. We’ll leave the edge on: makes them look special, eh?”
“Yes, very fine. And can you cancel them to record the date?”
“Sure, no problem. Oh, did you hear? My friend Alex was in Munchen about a month ago, and heard about this fellow Hitler. He held a big meeting of the DAP, announced a program for Germany, and changed the party’s name to the NSDAP.”
“Never heard of him.”
“Oh, I’m out of a few values. Maybe you can go down to the Bahnhof post office in Glonn. He’ll probably have the rest.”
“Good. Well, I’ll take what you have and go see Peter at the Bahnhof.”
Kurt Eisner, in Nov. 1918 the first republican premier of the Bavarian Republic, was assassinated on a Munich street on Feb. 21, 1919, while on his way to resign from office.
The former king Ludwig then fled to Hungary, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland, returning to Bavaria in April of 1920. He died in Hungary on Oct. 18, 1921.
Adolph Hitler addressed some 2000 members of the DAP (Deutsche Arbeiterpartie – German Worker’s Party) in the Festsaal of Munich’s Hofbräuhaus on Feb. 24, 1920, setting out a 25-point program and changing the party’s name to the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartie – National Socialist German Workers Party), later known as the Nazi Party.
Bavaria’s postal system was merged with that of the Weimar Republic on March 30, 1920. My wife’s father remembered seeing the bright Bavarian blue post boxes being painted a dull Prussian green.