The Samovar

POW that was not POW?

stamplover - 8/2/2010 at 21:23

Here is a postcard offered on eBay. It has been sent from Moscow to Berlin in December 1914/January 1915, and raises some questions.
First, it has a red "prisoner of war" mark on it, but no permission for frank-free mailing, and the postage is paid in full.
Second, it is highly improbable that the sender was a POW: the text is in French and indicates that he was a stamp collector!
Third, the postcard went through Russian censorship twice, but does not have German censormark.

Was postal correspondence with an enemy country at all possible during WWI? Is it possible that the red POW mark was a courtesy of a military clerk just to let the postcard sent by an avid collector to slip through the mail?

POWto Germany.jpg - 123kB

David Jay - 8/3/2010 at 12:54

Hmmm, I can't imagine any Russian postal clerk doing this during the war -- a great way to get in trouble, and spying by
Germans in Russia was a major issue. Also can't imagine the Germans allowing the item into their postal system if it were not POW mail. I would assume that the red mark is of German origin, since it is in German, so it was treated as POW mail there, evidently. It is odd though, that there is not an accompanying German censor mark.

Lacplesis - 8/21/2010 at 08:24

POW that was not POW hits it on the spot.
This is civilian internee mail and was not freed from postage because the internees were working for regular payment. In all other respects it was handled as POW mail.

About writting in French to Germany:
Very clever idea! German language censors were so bussy that mail was delayed for weeks at least (even more worse with Hungarian censors!), while the French language censors... guess for yourself.

David Jay - 8/22/2010 at 00:38

That is an interesting explanation. How do we test it? The German-language red marking says "prisoner of war sending". I would assume that it was of German origin. In any case, does it apply to both civilian or military internees?