ZARA - GERMAN OCCUPATION
Zara was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until early November 1918 when it was taken over by Italian forces. After the war the area became an Italian enclave on Yugoslav territory. After the official announcement of the signing of an armistice with the Allies on 8 September 1943, the Dalmatian area under Italian control was taken over by the Germans. Although formally still under the administration of Mussolini’s R.S.I., Zara was actually under German control. Stamps from the Imperiale series, war propaganda stamps, air mail, special delivery and postage due stamps of Italy (1929-1942) were locally overprinted by the E. de Schoenfeld Press with the words “Deutsche/Besetzung/Zara” (German Occupation of Zara). The local printer was unable to produce a uniform job due to lack of required founts in large quantity. As a result the overprinting plates presented a variety of founts causing an extraordinary number of varieties and sub-types. A month later, on 4 November, more Italian definitives, war propaganda and special delivery stamps were overprinted by a continuous overprint “ZARA” within bands of lines. It soon became apparent that too many stamps had been overprinted for a population of hardly 20,000. In reality the high denominations never made it to the post office but instead went straight to dealers ‘stockbooks and collectors’ albums. Only 24 of the 58 stamps issued at Zara in 1943 are known postally used, most of the top denominations being on philatelic covers or plain ctos. The general post office, which had already been damaged by an air raid on 28 November, was completely destroyed by bombing on 16 December, and all existing stock was destroyed. The evacuation of the urban area was concluded on 31 December. On 31 October 1944 German forces withdrew from the area and Yugoslav partisans took over; in January 1945 it was annexed to Yugoslavia, a unilateral move that received formal approval with the 10 February 1947 Treaty of Paris. Although not listed by Scott, the stamps of the German occupation of Zara are listed by most major catalogues. Very dangerous forgeries of the overprints exist; additionally the utmost care should be excercised in acquiring used examples and expertisation is highly recommended for all issues. (by Giorgio Migliavacca Copyright) BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ludin ‘The Zara Stamps and their forgeries’ – Bad Ems 1953; Emanuele M. Gabbini “Storia Postale di Zara” Edizioni Nico, Trapani (Italy) 1995; Lauson H. Stone “Yugoslavia Postal History During World War II” in “Postal History Journal” #81-83, 1989.
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