19 juni 2024

Political propaganda in the Netherlands on Dutch stamps and postal history

Social Philately

Political propaganda in the Netherlands on Dutch stamps and postal history

Part I: Before the Second World War (a)

This serial of three articles shows that political propaganda often was present on Dutch postage stamps, meter marks etc. No matter whether you like it or not. Also Cinderella stamps on mail are incorporated in this article, although not postal but private. It shows an aspect of Social Philately and how mail was deployed for political propaganda. We start with the Napoleonic era in the Netherlands (1810-1813) till 1940. Part II deals with the period during World War II, and part III the period after the Second World War.

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Napoleonic era 1810-1813

When Napoleon came to power in 1799, he conquered a large part of Europe. In 1810 the Netherlands became a part of France. The Dutch postal administration became part of the French postal system and was divided into eight departments with around 85 post offices. Amsterdam got the French department number 118. After Napoleon was defeated, October 1813, the French department numbers were removed from the postmarks. After taking out the number, a small dash of it was left.

1905 growing socialist influence

The growing socialist influence in Europe is illustrated by a Cinderella stamp on the reverse of an envelope from 1905. As long as there are postal laws, political propaganda on the front side of mail is forbidden. That’s why it was glued on the reverse side. The stamp shows a fat capitalist, a fat priest and an army officer of high rank, showing protesting banners with the Dutch text ‘Do not read ‘Het Volk’. ‘Het Volk’ was a Dutch socialist newspaper. For every worker the picture on the stamp was a good reason to read this newspaper immediately. The postmark on the reverse is a proof of delivery. Postmarks should never touch the Cinderella stamps because that gives the wrong impression the Cinderella is a postal.

The Peace Palace and World War I (the Great War)

1899 in the Dutch town The Hague a huge Peace Conference was held in order to prevent war. The Second Peace Conference was held in 1907 with participation of 44 out of 57 existing states at that moment. A special cover with a special postmark was issued. The first stone of the Peace Palace was laid.

The conference did not prevent war because on the 28th of July, 1914 the First World War (Great War) started. Eight weeks later this field postcard was issued. Depicting the Peace Palace on the picture side with the text in Dutch ‘For rent or for sale because of being bankrupt. Useful as barracks or cinema. Has all kind of luxury such as electricity, water etc. React to the Angel of Peace with number C’.

The Netherlands managed to keep its neutrality but mobilized a lot of soldiers. On this picture postcard, sent from the Kromhout barrack in Utrecht, the sender tries to give a positive sign to the recipient with a picture and (translated) Dutch text: ‘VII. Mobilization 1914. People from the Netherlands, fathers, uncles, aunts, and mothers, be quiet, we men are proud to guard the country. Mothers in law, legacy aunts, half nephews, do not have fear, we soldiers do protect you’.

After the end of WWI again it is stated that peace is a precious thing. On this cover, 17-3-1930, sent from the Netherlands to the U.K. a Belgian Cinderella stamp tells us, in Latin (translated), ‘Peace, truth, freedom and justice’. We more often see that officially political propaganda on the front of mail , however forbidden, is silently admitted by the postal administration.

Also inland politics sometimes plays an important role. A 1935 grey postage stamp replaces 

the 1928 violet postage stamp type ‘Vliegende Duif’ (Flying pigeon) of which the colour was considered as too Roman catholic related for the majority of the protestant people in the Netherlands.

Jan Heijs

— to be continued —

René Hillesum

René Hillesum

Collector of postal history of Finland and postmarks of Imperial Saint Petersburg.

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