Philatelic Journalism in War-Time

The outbreak of war has had little or no effect on the philatelic journals published in neutral countries, and even in the case of those published in the territories of the combatant powers a successful attempt has been made to avoid an entire suspension of activity. Furthermore it should be clearly understood that the observations we are about to make are applicable only to the time (October) at which they are written, and that, when this number of the Journal reaches our members, some at least of the suspended papers will have reappeared.

As far as England is concerned, we believe that all the philatelic journals have continued to appear, with the exception of Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal and the Monthly Report of the Herts Philatelic Society. To these may be added Our Stamp Opinion, of which one number is said to have been issued before the war; its publisher, writing on October 8th, informed us that he “was expecting to go to the front.”

In France, all the philatelic journals known to us have ceased publication, the following being the last numbers to reach us: Bulletin Philatélique (No. 69, July 15th); Circulaire Philatélique (No. 122, April-May); Collectionneur de Timbres-Poste (No. 406, August 1st); Echo de la Timbrologie (No. 518, July 31st); Journal de Philatélistes (No. 42, July 15th); Postillon (No. 482, July 10th); Revue Philatélique Française (No. 269, July). Of the Bulletin Champion and Timbre-Poste, we have no information, except that the latter is no longer being published.

Of Belgian periodicals, the last numbers received by us were the Annonce Timbrologique of Brussels (No. 290, June 30th) and the Revue Postale of Liége (No. 196, July-August).

As regards German papers, we are without information as to the Deutsche Philatelist, Kohl’s Mitteilungen, Vertrauliches Korrespondentz-Blatt, and the “advertisers” (Briefmarken-Offertenblatt and General-Anzeiger für Philatelie). We learn, however, that Germania-Berichte (Nos. 7-8, 9), Philateliste-Zeitung (No. 8-9, August-September) and Philatelistische Berichte (No. 69) are still appearing, and, through the kindness of friendly correspondents, we are able to give some particulars of other publications.

The Deutsche Briefmarken-Zeitung, which may fairly be classed as the most important German philatelic journal as regards its literary contents, appeared (Vol. XXV, No. 9) on September 30th. This was the day of publication announced in No. 8 (August 1st) and was fixed at a distance of two months on account of the holiday season, in accordance with the practice of former years. But on August 2nd, as the leading article, “World War,” states, the German mobilization began, and some of the numbers posted to addresses abroad were returned with the official note, “Wegen Kriegzustanden zurück.”

In this article, after eulogizing the patriotic spirit shown by Germans and Austrians, the writer, Mr. Hugo Krötzsch asks, “What other power on earth could have not only called halt to an enemy so vastly superior in numbers but also gained in so short a time entire confidence in ultimate victory? ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt’ rules triumphant - and therein lies the secret of the present world-war. Envy of the rise of German genius and industry in the world-market has brought to a head the craving for German’s annihilation, and, since this was found to be impossible of achievement in the honorable rivalry of creative power and commerce, only the lighted torch of war remained at the disposal of the annihilators. Of our enemies, England for decades past has poured forth volleys of abuse against the growing competition of German industry in the world-market and openly set legal obstructions in the way of German trade. Our other adversaries have taken the field against us from entirely different motives: France in the hope of extending her frontier once more to the Rhine, and Russia in her steady endeavor to enlarge her territory. In these two nations, eager for the fight, England found willing coadjutors in hatred of Germany and helpers in the English encircling policy. The Triple Entente was formed and Russia undertook the job of setting the slow-match to the powder barrel. The unscrupulous political murder committed by the Russian accomplice, the Servian, in Serajavo, was the preliminary step on the part of the Triple Entente, but nevertheless Austria, with her ally Germany, took up the gauntlet flung down by England, who is the sole instigator of the war. However distant Serajevo may be from the seat of the English war-maker and however unctuously the English war-ring take pains to base their intervention on the ground of the German entry [Einmarsch] into Belgium - this logical explanation of the origin of the war is too plainly evident and the world’s history will corroborate it.

“Of all our numerous enemies, only three deserve serious consideration - France, Russia and England. The French, though our inferiors [nicht ebenbürtige], are none the less worthy opponents; they, in the hope of retaliation for the defeat of 1870, were too easily open to the English blandishments, in spite of the fact that England is France’s hereditary foe. Russia is not fighting against the liberation of that German industry and genius which she cannot comprehend, but has lent her ear to the caressing voice of England (though both powers stand at daggers drawn in Asia) in the instinctive desire of an old-domiciled and double-branched group of authorities, who are not in spiritual union with the people: (1) to increase landed property and (2) to make the army-contractors happy. Even if the one receives no fruits of victory, the other is provided for, since his victory is complete before the war begins. The people, who sacrifice everything, do not enter into the question in the least degree, as the knout has already, in time of peace, made them ready to obey every request of the “Little Father.” The Russian is the most powerful, dull-witted [stumpfsinnigste] and - by reason of his Asiatic breed - our fiercest enemy in his invasion of hostile territory.

“The Englishman, i.e., the English war-making group, is our basest foe, but the weakest of the Triple Entente in the open field. Of Teutonic race, this grisly-Grey group has united England with hostile Latins and Muscovites on the assumption that with these as stalking-horses it can annihilate Germandom and can do so moreover without any participation in the war beyond the export of a handful of hired mercenaries. English impotence is thus clearly evidenced and the conclusion of peace will show what a sacrifice these war-makers have inflicted on every country save their own. Our government and war-authorities have not only labored untiringly during the long years of peace on warlike preparations of the highest order in every respect, but have also certainly laid their plans for resisting every possible enemy. The German people are fully confident that the General Staff has also prepared for our dear cousins across the Channel a salve (“made in Germany”) that will lessen the suffering and make things easier for all parties concerned. This salve will also be daubed on the Yellow Peril which has been conjured up in such an unspeakably shameless way against the Germans.

“Exhilarating as was the Montenegrin declaration of war against Germany, mightily effectual as was the opening of hostilities with Russia and France, so with refreshing joy was the English declaration of war received throughout Germany. But with England’s participation in the struggle the opportunity presents itself of rending asunder the net that enmeshes over the whole globe the strength of every non-English commercial undertaking, and purifying the stiflingly close air overhanging the world-market, so that every country may breathe freely again. With its active participation, England has made a sacrifice of its hitherto invariable custom, intending, when the time comes for peace negotiations, to fish the richest returns out of the advantages gained by the efforts of others. The present war-footing shows clearly that no single state can or must domineer over the world-market. England has sapped Germany’s trade and the trade of the whole world is at a standstill. As the distances between them are ever growing less, no one Kultur-State can exist without the help of the rest.” After expressing a wish that the world-war may be followed by “a really long peace,” Mr. Krötzsch concludes with the hope that his observations may enlighten his readers in neutral countries as to the “insane calumnies against Germany.”

We refrain from the easy task of commenting on this illuminating outburst, which may safely be left to the appreciation of our readers, and shall confine ourselves to the observation that, on account of the decrease in its advertisements, the publication of the next number of Deutsche Briefmarken-Zeitung is announced to be postponed to November 12th. The contents of the present number include a notice of the 1915 edition of Senf’s Catalogue, which made its appearance on September 10th, and is expected to remain current until the summer of 1916 (We learn that for the first time a limited number of copies of this edition was printed on writing paper, on one side of the leaf only); no new edition of the “entires” section will appear for the present. From the news of Societies’ proceedings, we learn that Staff-Doctor Pirl, a member of the Philatelic Literature Society, was serving with his regiment in the West. Of these societies, the Briefmarkensammler-Verein Nürnberg held a meeting on August 13th.

The proceedings were short, lasting only from 9:15 to 9:22 p.m., and consisted of a presidential address in which the speaker, after a few patriotic words, proposed that the funds of the society, amounting to 50 pounds (invested in the 3 percent Nuremberg Tramway Loan of 1903) should be given to the relief-agencies of Nuremberg and Fürth. The suggestion was unanimously accepted with the cry of “Unser geliebter Landesvater, Seine Majestät König Ludwig von Bayern: Hurrah! Unser oberster Kriegsherr, Seine Majestät der Deutsche Kaiser: Hurrah! Unsere Armee und Flotte: Hurrah! Unser geliebtes deutsches Vaterland: Hurrah!”

The Philatelist appeared (Vol. XXXV, No. 9) on September 15th. Its first page is occupied by the Emperor’s proclamation (“An das deutsche Volk”) of August 6th, and this is followed by a very brief editorial notice couched in restrained language - “Germany is menaced by foes. The sword will pronounce judgment. It is not for the Internationaler Philatelisten-Verein [i.e., the Dresden Philatelic Society, which publishes this journal] to deal with politics. We shall only say to our worthy members that the Society’s meetings were resumed at the beginning of September…. The Society has made it its most urgent business to transmit the sum of M. 1,000 to the National Red Cross Society.” The Philatelist’s restraint is, however, less apparent in its following number (No. 10, October 15th), where much space is devoted to “spreading the light abroad” for the benefit of its readers in neutral countries, who are invited to consider the shameless horrors committed by the enemies of Germany.

The Illustriertes Briefmarken-Journal issued a number (Vol. XLI, No. 16) in August. We have not seen this, but the following issues, of September 19th and October 17th, are double numbers (17-18, 19-20), containing, however, only 24 pages. Its article and notes are confined to purely philatelic topics. As for the Berliner Briefmarken-Zeitung, published on September 30th (Vol. X, No. 15-16), its leading article, “Postage Stamps and the War,” after remarking that “no one at present can say what the end of the war and its results will be, either for the victor or the vanquished,” passes on to consider the present and future state of philately from the commercial point of view. The reflections of the Berlin writer are of a conventional character and might have been echoed from those of his English or American confreres, but it is of interest to note his statement to the effect that some of even the larger stamp businesses in Germany were hard hit, “a few so severely that they threw up the sponge and stopped working. Some even did not hesitate to devise sundry expedients for getting rid of burdensome contracts with employees, their point of view being that a situation falls through in time of war.” With regard to German stamp-collectors themselves, we learn that “a large number are endeavoring to complete their collections of Belgium, Serbia and Montenegro, presumably in the belief that these States will soon be `closed down’ territories. There is a lively demand, too, we are told, for German Colonial stamps, the Berlin office where they are sold being “overwhelmed with personal and written orders.” The article concludes by referring to proposals made, in certain German philatelic societies, for the exclusion of members of enemy countries. Such a step, it says, would be most deplorable, inasmuch as, when peace is restored, philately will be one of the many bridges reuniting the sundered relations of the civilized world.