MONTENEGRO WW2

Italian troops occupied Montenegro in April 1941. Overprints on 14 Yugoslav definitive stamps with the Italian and Serbo-Croat versions of the province’s name were issued on 13 June 1941. The Serbo-Croat inscription includes the date of the invasion, April 17, 1941, and the year of the fascist era “XIX”. The same haste, inexperience, and wartime shortages in local printing establishments that produced overprint errors and varieties in Lubiana and, later on, Zara, also resulted in constant varieties here. Only the low denominations were on sale at the post office; the bulk of the entire issue was held back and later on sold to stamp dealers at a high premium with the excuse that the proceeds were to benefit the country. In June, adding insult to injury, nine Italian definitives , one airmail and five postage dues were overprinted in Cyrillic UPHA I OPA (CRNA GORA = Monte Negro) were issued. The bi-lingual wording of the first overprint featuring the fascist year, followed by overprints on stamps depicting the Italian monarch, hurt national sensitivities of Montenegrins and a new approach had to be implemented. To begin with, Queen Helena (nee Petrovic), the consort of King Victor Emmanuel III, was also a Montenegrin, and a special administrative arrangement had to be adopted. On 3 October 1941 Mussolini issued a special decree making Montenegro an Italian Governorship. The special status of Montenegro under Italian occupation is also reflected by its stamps, which include a set issued on 25 May 1943 commemorating Prince Bishop Petrovic Njegosh, author of the Montenegrin national poem. Each of the ten stamps bore a few lines of the poem inscribed on the back. Undoubtedly Queen Helena had a lot of influence in all of this, and having a famous Sicilian stamp collector at the top of the newly established Governorship made things easier. Earlier issues include the four 1940 Legionnaire stamps of Yugoslavia overprinted (January 1942) “Governatorato/del/Montenegro/Valore in Lire”. This set exist with the scarcer black overprint, and with overprint in red; 100 and 200 sets respectively were overprinted. The same situation relates to the Yugoslav Red Cross airmail stamps of 1940, overprinted on 9 January 1942, “Governatorato/del/Montenegro” for one series in black and another in red, 400 and 200 sets respectively. King Peter definitives were used again in 1942 to produce a 9-stamp set overprinted “Governatorato/del/Montenegro/Valore/LIRE” in black. The 1 din is known with a slightly different overprint where the word “LIRE” is noticeably smaller. This rare variety is believed to have originated from a printer’s test sheet that was inadvertently left in the stockpile supplied to the post office. Additionally 11 denominations of the same definitive series received the same overprint in red. The first signs of rebellion came as early as 13 July 1941 when Montenegrin partisans shot up an Italian convoy near Kolasin and besieged garrisons at Danilovgrad and Bioca. A more massive attack came in May 1942. In September 1943, following the announcement that Italy had signed an armistice with the Allies, the Germans took over and in December the on-duty German Field Postmaster overprinted five of Italy’s ten-value regular occupation issue (Scott 2N37-41) and five of the six air mail issue (Scott 2NC18-22) with “Nationaler/Verwaltungsausschuss/10.XI.1943″ three-lined overprint. Prior to that (22 November) nine Yugoslav 1939-1940 King Peter stamps of Yugoslavia (five 3 din and four 4 din values) were overprinted with new values in Italian Lire and the inscription “Deutsche/Militaer-/Verwaltung/Montenegro” These overprints were executed by Obod, the Montenegrin state printers in Cetinje. In addition the Field Postmaster authorized four separate semi-postal and two air mail semi-postal sets in 1944, bearing a “Crveni krst/Montenegro” overprint with red cross and new value, and also a “lÁ¼chtlingshilfe/Montenegro” overprint as provisional charity issues in aid of war refugees. Montenegro was liberated in November 1944 by partisan troops under Marshal Tito.

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