Latvian Legion Stamps and Postal History

    Postal History

    Latvian volunteers serving with the German Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS had the same Feldpost services as their compatriots. Feldpost numbers were assigned to police and SS units comprising of Latvians. From 1943, more generous postal privileges were provided to Latvian volunteers, mail weighing up to 250gms was free. A 12Rpf fee was charged for mail weighing between 250 and 1000gms.

    All mail was distributed to the Foreign Letter Examining Office located in Konigsberg. Mail sent by reliable personnel was applied with a transit circular "Aa" marking. Airmail service was available free of charge for mail weighing 10gms.
    Special Luftfeldpost labels was provided to each volunteer. Airmail service in the northern front continued till late 1944. A small postal fee was charged for mailing packages weighing more than 2Kgs and no postal fee for official Register mail.

    After the German occupation had begun a reliable postal system "Deutsche Dienstpost DDP OSTLAND" replaced all Baltic and White Russian civilian postal institutions. The DDP OSTLAND system provided postal service for German civil administrations, labor recruiting services, Todt and Speer organizations, construction firms, etc.

    By late 1944, the Soviet offensives had overrun most of the Eastern Front. The only remaining DDP OSTLAND office was located in the "Kurland" (Courland) peninsula, which shared facilities with Feldpost in Libau, Latvia. Completely cut off from Germany by land, mail service was still possible by sea and air. The DDP in Courland exhausted all the most commonly used 6Rpf and 12Rpf stamps. The remaining stock of 5, 10 and 20Rpf stamps were overprinted (o/p) for 6Rpf, while brown Feldpost parcel stamps were o/p with 12Rpf. These stamps also have the Kurland o/p and were used for non-military mail within the Courland pocket.
    Non-philatelic covers with Kurland o/p stamps are rare.

    The need to restrict Feldpost to Germany led to the issuance of special Feldpost cards. The cards had green parcel labels that were vertically bisected and tied with the unit seal of the Libau military office. Latvian volunteers in the Kurland Pocket mailed the same cards to Germany but with the green parcel labels bisected horizontally. The DDP OSTLAND system operated until 8 May 1945.

    Latvian Legion stamps

    Latvian Legion Issues

    The two proof labels shown are the clear and sharp type. Notice the green proof label showing Latvian Waffen-SS soldiers in SS camouflage uniform. There existed two Latvian SS Divisions with good combat record. I shall discuss the SS legion formations further in my Feldpost Web Page.

    Latvian Postal Issues

    The Latvian Veterans Relief Organization was connected with the planned issuance of a series of Latvian Legion stamps in support of the "Latviesu Karaviru Palidzibai" (Latvian Soldiers Aid). The funding was raised from the sale of the stamps and was to aid the dead, disabled and their families. A postal committee was established and presented the German authorities with 15 proposed stamp designs done from three artist:
    five from A. Apinis, six from R. Kasparsons and four by N. Strunke. The values for these stamps were 025, 075, 1.00 and 1.50.

    By July 1944, three designs by Kasparsons (the 25, Latvian maiden crowning Legionnaire's helmet with flowers; 75, Legionnaires manning gun; 100, Legionnaire throwing grenade) and one by Alpinis (150, Latvian maiden presenting Legionnaire with victory wreath) were accepted.
    The designers were requested to add the SS runes and German monetary units on the stamps. While these stamps couldn't be used as postage, they were given by the Germans semi-official recognition and could be canceled.

    By August 1944, the proofs printed were presented to the German authorities but were not issued because of the advance of the Red Army. Fifty thousand sets were planned. Some reprints of the proofs were made, and smuggled to Sweden.

    Latvian Legion reprint

    Scarce Latvian Legion post-war sheet illustrating the postal stamp reprints with the artist name.

    Note: Two different reprints exist:
    1. Reprint of 15 values in 5 different colors (blue, red, orange, green and black) designs clear and sharp, printed on smooth thick paper.
    2. Reprint of 15 values in 5 different colors, designs unclear, some blurred, printed on white regular or chalky paper.

    Latvian Legion Proof Sheet

    Latvian Legion Proof Sheet

    The Above is a complete sheet showing all the Latvian Legion designs, which only four were accepted. These proofs are extremely rare since only a few have been found.

    Latvian Legion Proofs

    Rare postal proof illustrating the proposed colors.

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