Upon the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, the victorious Allied powers asserted their authority over all territory of the German Reich which lay west of the Oder–Neisse line, having formally abolished the government of Adolf Hitler. The four powers divided Germany into four occupation zones for administrative purposes, into what is collectively known now as Allied-occupied Germany (Alliierten-besetztes Deutschland). The occupation resulted in the creation of many different postage stamp issuing entities, AM Post (AM = Allied Military) stamps were provided by the American and British occupation services during 1945 as the first step to restore mail service in their jurisdictions. In 1946, German stamps were issued as Deutsche Post for the American, British, and Soviet zones but not the French zone. At the beginning of 1947, the American and British allied occupation zones were merged into what was called the “Bizone”. In April 1949, the French zone was integrated into the Bizone, which now became the “Trizone”. In May of 1949, the Trizone became the Federal Republic of Germany. In the same year, the Soviet zone became the German Democratic Republic.
All territories annexed by Germany before World War II from Austria and Czechoslovakia were returned to these countries. The Memel Territory, annexed by Germany from Lithuania before the war, was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945 and transferred to the Lithuanian SSR. All territories annexed by Germany during the war from Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Poland, and Yugoslavia were returned to their respective countries.
The American Zone of Occupation consisted of Bavaria and Hesse in Southern Germany, and the northern portions of the present-day German state of Baden-Württemberg. The ports of Bremen (on the lower Weser River) and Bremerhaven (at the Weser estuary of the North Sea) were also placed under American control because of the American request to have certain toeholds in Northern Germany. The headquarters of the American military government was the former IG Farben Building in Frankfurt am Main.
Beginning in May 1945, many of the American combat troops and airmen in and around Germany were sent back to the United States based on their Advanced Service Rating Scores. Some of the experienced officers and non-commissioned officers were selected to be sent to the Pacific Theater of Operations for the proposed Invasion of Japan, but most of those men who had served the longest in combat were discharged from the U.S. Army, the Army Air Forces, and the U.S. Navy upon their return home. Following the surrender of the Japanese Empire in mid-August 1945 — by its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration — a higher percentage of soldiers, airmen, and sailors were granted their final discharges from service. The signing of the surrender of Japan took place on September 2, 1945m officially ending hostilities in World War II in the Pacific, but active combat within the Pacific theater had ended weeks earlier.
Within the British Zone of Occupation, the Control Commission for Germany – British Element (CCG/BE) re-established the German state of Hamburg, but with borders that had been drawn by Nazi Germany in 1937. The British also created the new German states of Schleswig-Holstein —emerging in 1946 from the Prussian Province of Schleswig-Holstein; Lower Saxony — the merger of Brunswick, Oldenburg, and Schaumburg-Lippe with the state of Hanover in 1946; and North Rhine-Westphalia — the merger of Lippe with the Prussian provinces of the Rhineland (northern part) and Westphalia — during 1946–1947. Also in 1947, the German state Free Hanseatic City of Bremen became an exclave of the American Zone of Occupation located within the British Zone.
Despite its being one of the Allied Powers, the French Republic was at first not granted an occupation zone in Germany. Later, however, the British and American governments recognized the role of France during World War II in Europe, and agreed to cede some western parts of their zones of occupation to the French Army. This created a French zone of occupation in the westernmost part of Germany. It consisted of two barely contiguous areas of Germany along the French border that met at just a single point along the Rhine River. It included the Saargebiet, which was disentangled from it on February 16, 1946. By December 18, 1946, customs controls were established between the Saar area and allied occupied Germany. The French zone ceded further adjacent municipalities to the Saar (in mid-1946, early 1947, and early 1949).
Included in the French zone was the town of Büsingen am Hochrhein, a German exclave separated from the rest of the country by a narrow strip of neutral Swiss territory. The Swiss government agreed to allow limited numbers of French troops to pass through its territory in order to maintain law and order in Büsingen.
The Soviet occupation zone incorporated Thuringia, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The Soviet Military Administration in Germany was headquartered in Berlin-Karlshorst.
At the end of World War II, 75,000 Belgian soldiers were serving in the Allied armies in Germany, mostly within military units raised after Liberation of Belgium in September 1944. As only the Americans, Soviets, British and French were considered official occupying powers under the terms of the Potsdam Conference, the Belgian government was unable to form a military government of its own in Germany. It was, however, allocated a territory within the British zone which was garrisoned by Belgian troops. The zone formed a 120-mile (200 kilometers) strip from the Belgian-German border at the south of the British zone, and included the important cities of Cologne and Aachen. The Belgian army of occupation in Germany (known as the Belgian Forces in Germany from 1951) became autonomous in 1946 under the command, initially, of Jean-Baptiste Piron. Belgian soldiers would remain in Germany until December 31, 2005.
From November 1945, Luxembourg was allocated a zone within the French sector. The Luxembourg 2nd Infantry Battalion was garrisoned in Bitburg and the 1st Battalion was sent to Saarburg. The final Luxembourg forces in Germany, in Bitburg, left in 1955.
Poland (governed by the Communists after liberation from Nazi Germany) was given two land pockets as part of its Potsdam Conference defined “Temporary Administration pending the Final World War Two German Peace Treaty”. One was in the southern part of the former German province of East Prussia. The other area under Polish administration was the large tract of territory between the River Oder and the 1937 Polish-German frontier. This occupied territory was annexed by Poland in 1949 in accordance with the peace treaty between Poland and East Germany. In 1970, West Germany subsequently relinquished its claims to all previous German territory then under Polish control, following the historic visit to Poland of West German Chancellor Willy Brandt.
While located wholly within the Soviet zone, because of its symbolic importance as the nation’s capital and seat of the former Nazi government, the city of Berlin was jointly occupied by the Allied powers and subdivided into four sectors. Berlin was not considered to be part of the Soviet zone. West Berlin under the jurisdiction of the three western powers started to release its own stamps on September 3, 1948.
The original Allied plan to govern Germany as a single unit through the Allied Control Council broke down in 1946–1947 due to growing tensions between the Allies, with Britain and the United States wishing cooperation, France obstructing any collaboration in order to unwind Germany into many independent states, and the Soviet Union unilaterally implementing from early on elements of its political-economic system (mass expropriations of land, nationalization of businesses). Another dispute was the absorption of post-war expellees. While the U,K,, the U,S,, and the Soviet Union had agreed to accept, house, and feed about six million expelled German citizens from former eastern Germany and four million expelled and denaturalised Czechoslovaks, Poles, Hungarians, and Yugoslavs of German ethnicity in their zones, France generally had not agreed to the expulsions approved by the Potsdam agreement (a decision made without input from France). Therefore, France strictly refused to absorb war refugees who were denied return to their homes in seized eastern German territories or destitute post-war expellees who had been expropriated there, into the French zone, let alone into the separated Saar protectorate. However, the native population, returning after Nazi-imposed removals (e.g., political and Jewish refugees) and war-related relocations (e.g., evacuation from air raids), were allowed to return home in the areas under French control. The other Allies complained that they had to shoulder the burden to feed, house, and clothe the expellees who had to leave their belongings behind.
In practice, each of the four occupying powers wielded government authority in their respective zones and carried out different policies toward the population and local and state governments there. A uniform administration of the western zones evolved, known first as the Bizone (the American and British zones merged as of January 1, 1947) and later the Trizone (after inclusion of the French zone). The complete breakdown of east-west allied cooperation and joint administration in Germany became clear with the Soviet imposition of the Berlin Blockade that was enforced from June 1948 to May 1949. The three western zones were merged to form the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949, and the Soviets followed suit in October 1949 with the establishment of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
In the west, the occupation continued until May 5, 1955, when the General Treaty (Deutschlandvertrag) entered into force. However, upon the creation of the Federal Republic in May 1949, the military governors were replaced by civilian high commissioners, whose powers lay somewhere between those of a governor and those of an ambassador. When the Deutschlandvertrag became law, the occupation ended, the western occupation zones ceased to exist, and the high commissioners were replaced by normal ambassadors. West Germany was also allowed to build a military, and the Bundeswehr, or Federal Defense Force, was established on November 12, 1955.
A similar situation occurred in East Germany. The GDR was founded on October 7, 1949. On October 10, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany was replaced by the Soviet Control Commission, although limited sovereignty was not granted to the GDR government until November 11, 1949. After the death of Joseph Stalin in March 1953, the Soviet Control Commission was replaced with the office of the Soviet High Commissioner on May 28, 1953. This office was abolished (and replaced by an ambassador) and (general) sovereignty was granted to the GDR, when the Soviet Union concluded a state treaty (Staatsvertrag) with the GDR on September 20, 1955. On March 1, 1956, the GDR established a military, the National People’s Army (NVA).
Despite the grants of general sovereignty to both German states in 1955, full and unrestricted sovereignty under international law was not enjoyed by any German government until after the reunification of Germany in October 1990. Though West Germany was generally independent, the Allies maintained some responsibilities for West Germany. At the same time, East Germany was a satellite state of the Soviet Union. The provisions of the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, also known as the “Two-plus-Four Treaty,” granting full sovereign powers to Germany did not become law until March 15, 1991, after all of the participating nations had ratified the treaty. As envisaged by the Treaty, the last Occupation troops departed from Germany when the Russian presence was terminated in 1994.
A 1956 plebiscite ended the French administration of the Saar protectorate, and it joined the Federal Republic as Saarland on January 1, 1957, as its tenth state.
The city of Berlin was not part of either state and continued to be under Allied occupation until the reunification of Germany in October 1990. For administrative purposes, the three western sectors of Berlin were merged into the entity of West Berlin. The Soviet sector became known as East Berlin and while not recognized by the Western powers as a part of East Germany, the GDR declared it its capital (Hauptstadt der DDR).
Stamps were provided by the Allied Military Government (AMG) of the United States and Great Britain during 1945 for civilian use in the occupation areas of West Germany that were under its control. There were three different printings of these 1945 stamps. The earlier printings were the Washington and London Printings (March to September). The later printing was the Brunswick, Germany, Printing (August – December). Beginning in February 1946 and continuing through June 1948, Allied occupation stamps were issued for general usage throughout the American, British, and Soviet occupation zones.
By December 1945, the French authorities began issuing stamps for the “zone française“. Although the stamps were denominated in German currency, they all 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 — Baden, Rheinland-Pfalz, and Württemberg — began issuing their own postage stamps. In addition, separate stamps were provided for the Saar.
In the Soviet zone, initially in 1945, various provinces released different stamps, namely Berlin-Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxonia (Ost Sachsen, West Sachsen, Provinz Sachsen), and Thuringia. Many towns, primarily in the Soviet zone, created local charity stamps and souvenir sheets during early 1945. Some of them actually saw postal duty, though most of the issues were not officially authorized by any government or the occupying forces. Most of these issues were intended for sale to collectors in order to raise money for local reconstruction projects or charitable organizations.
In 1946, German stamps were issued as Deutsche Post for the American, British, and Soviet zones but not the French zone. The typical yellow color to signify post service was decreed by the Allied Control Council in 1946. With the development of the Cold War, however, attempts to unify the postal system failed. The common stamps were replaced by 1948 by definitives for the Soviet zone, and different sets of stamps for the Bizone prior to the establishment of the two German republics.
Scott #583 was released on March 2, 1948, the high value in a set of two issued to commemorate the 1948 Leipzig Spring Fair. The 84-pfennig green engraved stamp was printed on paper with a multiple DEUTSCHEPOST watermark and portrays merchants arranging stocks of merchandise in 1433.
The Leipzig Trade Fair (Leipziger Messe) is a major trade fair, which traces its roots back for nearly a millennium. After the Second World War, Leipzig fell within the territory of East Germany, whereupon the Leipzig Trade Fair became one of the most important trade fairs of Comecon and was traditionally a meeting place for businessmen and politicians from both sides of the Iron Curtain. Since 1996, the fair has taken place on the Leipzig fairgrounds, located about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) north of the city center.
The history of the Leipzig fairs goes back to the Middle Ages. A fair held at Leipzig is first mentioned in 1165. Otto the Rich, Margrave of Meissen presented the Leipzig fairs under protection. No other fair was allowed within a circle of a mile (7,5 kilometers) away (Bannmeile).
In 1268, Margrave Theodoric of Landsberg secured all merchants travelers to Leipzig full protection for person and goods, even if their sovereign was at feud with him. This led to the settlement of numerous merchants in Leipzig. Trade goods now included herring, cloth, wine, and pepper. Two annual fairs established in Leipzig, at Jubilate and Michaelis. Frederick II of Saxony imparted in 1458 the privilege for a third fair in Leipzig, the New Year’s Fair. German emperor Frederick III confirmed this fair in 1466 and 1469 by imperial privileges.
In 1497, King Maximilian I (from 1508 Emperor) confirmed all three Leipzig fairs (New Year, Jubilate, Michaelis) again and provided his seigneurial protection, including a ban of establishing more fairs in the neighboring dioceses of Magdeburg, Halberstadt, Meissen, Merseburg and Naumburg. In 1507, Maximilian I banned any fairs within a 15-mile radius around Leipzig, which further increased the marketplace importance. The privilege also confirmed the staple right and extended the protection for the merchants on their way to the Leipzig fairs. Towns like Halle, Naumburg, Erfurt, and Magdeburg were now disadvantaged as marketplaces.
In 1523, the Augsburg merchant family Welser built a big house with shops at the Markt 8 (today’s Barthels Hof), the rival Fuggers had factories as well. In 1678-87, a stock exchange was built (Alte Handelsbörse, Naschmarkt, destroyed in 1943, but later rebuilt).
In the eighteenth century, Leipzig became the center for trade with Russian, Polish and English goods. It was called ‘the marketplace of all Europe’. The importance of the fair, which drew merchants from across Europe, was the impetus for the construction of one of Europe’s most significant Moorish Revival buildings, the 1855 Leipzig synagogue by architect Otto Simonson.
In 1895, the first commercial samples fair was held in Leipzig, dominated by exhibitors presenting samples of their goods. . Between 1893 and 1938 a number of fair-houses (Messe-Häuser) were built in the center of Leipzig. They normally contained several interconnected courtyards with shops, storage areas, and living space (Mädler-Passage, Petershof, Handelshof, Specks Hof, Drei Könige etc.) Leipzig became the main German fair for books and consumer goods. The fair’s MM symbol was designed by Erich Gruner in 1917. In 1920, the technical fairground was opened in the southeast of the town, between Reudnitz and the Monument to the Battle of the Nations. It included 19 pavilions in 1940.
In 1937, Leipzig was renamed Reichsmessestadt Leipzig (Imperial Trade Fair City Leipzig) by the Nazis. Between the wars, the Ring-Messehaus and the Messehaus Bugra were built. During World War II, the area of the technical fair was used for military production and partly destroyed by bombs.
In 1946, the first postwar fair (‘Peace fair’) took place. When the GDR joined the RGW (Comecon) in 1950, the fair was used to present the production of the fellow socialist countries, but for the capitalistic countries as well. The technical fairground was rebuilt and contained more than 20 pavilions.
The new Leipzig Trade Fair was built between 1995 and April 1996. The new fairground consists of six halls: five exhibition halls, which have a size of 20,000 square meters (220,000 square feet), and the world’s largest levitated glass hall, designed by Ian Ritchie Architects. The fairground has about 14,000 parking spaces and is accessible by tram, train, bus, or car. The Congress Centre Leipzig was also opened, built after designs by Gerkan, Marg and Partners. The old trade fair ground is used for shops, events, supermarkets, and figure skating events, although many areas are empty and unused. Today, the most important fairs are the Leipziger Buchmesse, and the Auto Mobil International.