The Allied occupation by the four powers that defeated Nazi Germany resulted in the creation of four major post-war occupation zones in 1945 and the Saar Protectorate (Saarland) in 1947. The French zone of occupation was not initially allocated by the victorious Allies following the end of World War II in consideration of the historical animosity between the French and Germans. With the urging of Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French Forces, and in appreciation of the important role the French underground played in the defeat of Germany, the British and American forces ceded small portions of their occupation zones to France. This resulted in the French occupation zone, consisting of two non-contiguous areas along the German border with France.
The states of Baden and Württemberg were split between the American occupation zone in the north and the French occupation zone in the south, which also got Hohenzollern. The border between the occupation zones followed the district borders, but they were drawn purposely in such a way that the autobahn from Karlsruhe to Munich (today the Bundesautobahn 8) ended up inside the American occupation zone. In the American occupation zone, the state of Württemberg-Baden was founded; in the French occupation zone, the southern part of former Baden became the new state of Baden while the southern part of Württemberg and Hohenzollern were fused into Württemberg-Hohenzollern. The capitol of the French Military Government was in Baden-Baden. The two parts of Baden were reunited and merged with the former state of Württemberg on 23 April 1952 to form the new state of Baden-Württemberg.
A set of thirteen stamps was issued between December 1945 and April 1946 for general usage throughout the French occupation zone. The stamps were denominated in German currency but were inscribed ZONE FRANÇAISE and have the “appearance” of similar contemporary French postage stamps of the era. These general issues were valid for postage until June 1948, though in 1947, each of the German states within the French occupation zone began issuing their own postage stamps. The pfennig denominations pictured the coats of arms of Rheinland, Pfalz, Wurttemberg, Baden, and the Saar Protectorate. They were typographed on unwatermarked paper and were perforated 14×13½. With this type of production, there were many printing and color errors. The mark denominations featured famous German writers. These stamps were engraved on unwatermarked paper and were perforated 13.
Even though some of the stamps of this set show the Saar coat of arms, they were not intended for use there. Saar was an independent state, under French influence, and they issued their own postage stamps, which were denominated in francs. Stamps from this occupation general issue set with Saar cancellations have a substantial premium over those that were used elsewhere in the French zone.
A new state was formed out of the southern part of the former Duchy of Baden, with its capital at Freiburg. This new new French zone state of Baden, in its 1947 constitution, was declared to be the true successor of the “old” Baden. They issued their first definitive postage stamps in 1947, a set which featured six designs — a portrait of Johann Peter Hebel, a girl of Constance, a portrait of Hans Baldung Grien, Rastatt Castle, a Black Forest scene, and the Cathedral of Freiburg. The first four designs were repeated in varying denominations and colors within the set. The stamps were photogravure and printed on unwatermarked papers of varying quality. Today’s Scott #5N12, picturing a scene of the Black Forest, perforated 14, denominated 84 pfennig, and colored blue green was issued as part of this set.
Due to the post-war economic crisis in the German occupation zones, the Western Allies instituted currency reform during June of 1948. The old Reichsmark currency was replaced by a new Deutsche mark currency, and this would eventually become the official currency of the soon-to-be Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) until 2002, when it would be replaced by the euro. The 1947 stamp designs were re-issued between June and September of 1948 to coincide with the currency reform. The same 1947 designs were used, though the new stamps had changes in color and denomination. Two new designs were added to the 1948 set, with those being a girl wearing a festival headdress and a portrait of Grand Duchess Stephanie.
Between November 1948 and May 1949, more definitive stamps were issued featuring some denomination and color changes. These new definitives do not have the denomination name, “Pf.” or “D.Pf.” on them. Practically all of the French zone stamps for Baden that were issued during 1949 were either commemorative postage stamps or commemorative semi-postal (charity) stamps. At the beginning of October 1949, the French zone state of Baden joined the newly established Federal Republic of Germany, and their separate stamp issues were replaced by those of the new West German republic.
In all, the French occupation zone state of Baden released 43 general issue and 14 semi-postal stamps between 1947 and 1949. This is a very collectible area and the numerous printing errors and varieties make it ripe for specialization.