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First day cover stamp and envelope issued to commemorate Treblinka

Object | Accession Number: 1993.50.7 a-b

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    Brief Narrative
    First day cover postcard and envelope acquired by Raul Hilberg of the stamp issued to commemorate Treblinka killing center by the German Democratic Republic in 1963. This was the first stamp of a series issued annually by the DDR under the name Mahn- und Gedensksatte [Remembrance and Memorial Center] in honor of World War II (1939-1945). In July 1942, the Germans built Treblinka II, a killing center, near the village of Wolka Okraglik, Poland, about 50 miles north of Warsaw. Nearly 1 million Jews were killed at Treblinka II before it was closed in the fall of 1943. As Soviet troops moved into the area in late July 1944, camp authorities shot the remaining prisoners and evacuated the camp. Hilberg was a renowned scholar who published the first comprehensive study of the Holocaust and initiated the academic study of the Holocaust. He and his parents fled Vienna, Austria, after its annexation by Germany in March 1938. Almost all of his family members in Europe were murdered during the Holocaust.
    issue:  1963 August 20
    postmark:  1963 August 20
    issue: Germany (East)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Raul Hilberg
    a. front, within image, white ink : MAHN- UND GEDENSKSTÄTTE / TREBLINKA [Remembrance and Memorial Center / Treblinka]
    a. front, on stamp, orange/blue/white ink : DEUTSCHE DEMOKRATISCHE REPUBLIK / 20 / MAHN- UND GEDENKSTÄTTE / TREBLINKA [German Democratic Republic / 20 / Remembrance and Memorial Center / Treblinka]
    a. front, postmark, stamped black ink : BERLIN / W8 / 20. 8. 63.-16 / treb-linka / MAHNT! [Caution]
    a. back, upper right corner, green ink : Im Vernichtungslager Treblinka, Kreis Sokolow, Polen, wuden von den Hitlerfaschisten vom Juli 1942 bis November 1943 etwa 800000 jüdische Menschen aus Polen, Belgien, Bulgarien, Deutschland, Frankreich, Griechenland, Jugoslawien, Österreich, der Tschechoslowakei und der Sowjetunion vergast. / Die Vernichtung eines Transportes – von seiner Ankunft auf dem Lagergelände bis zur Beseitigung der Leichen aus den Gaskammern – dauerte nicht länger als zwei Stunden. / In den 13 Gaskammern wurden zugleich 2000 Menschen getötet. Am 2. August 1943 erfolgte eine bewaffnete Aktion der Häftlinge gegen die SS. Einige Hundert flohen aus dem Lager. Zwanzig von ihnen kamen mit dem Leben davon. / Den Toten zu Ehren, den Lebenden zur Mahnung wurde in Treblinka eine würdige Gedenkstätte errichtet. [In Treblinka extermination camp, Sokolow, Poland, about 800,000 Jewish people from Poland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Austria, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were gassed by the Hitler fascists from July 1942 to November 1943. The destruction of a transport - from its arrival on the camp site to the removal of the corpses from the gas chambers - lasted no more than two hours. In the 13 gas chambers, 2,000 people were killed. On August 2, 1943, an armed action of the prisoners against the SS took place. Several hundred fled the camp. Twenty of them survived. / A memorial was erected in Treblinka to the dead in honor of the living, as a reminder.]
    a. back, right, green ink : VEB BILD UND HEIMAT / REICHENBACH i. V / 06175 K / 209/63 / V 78 – A3/63- DDR [VEB Bild und Heimat / Reichenbach in the Vogtland / 06175 K / 209/63 / V78 V 78 – A3/63- German Democratic Repbulic]
    b. front, lower left corner, black ink : Nationale Mahn- und Gedenskstätten / Buchenwald – Sachsenhausen – Ravensbrück / --Vertriebsstelle -- / BERLIN W8 / Unter den Linden 32/34 / 4. Etage / B 819-7-63 10000 (1-3-10) 1434 [National Remembrance and Memorial Centers / Buchenwald – Sachsenhausen – Ravensbruck / --Distributor -- / BERLIN W8 / Unter den Linden 32/34 / 4. Etage / B 819-7-63 10000 (1-3-10) 1434
    Subject: Raul Hilberg
    Issuer: Deutschen Post der DDR
    Designer: Horst White
    Distributor: Nationale Mahn- Und Gedenksta?tte DDR
    Raul Hilberg was born on June 2, 1926, in Vienna, Austria, the only child of Jewish parents. His father Michael fought and was wounded in the First World War (1914-1918). In Vienna, he had a business selling household goods to people on installment plans. His parents attended synagogue occasionally. Raul was never religious, but he did attend a Zionist school. In March 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria and soon passed legislation to strip Jews of their rights as citizens. The family was ordered out of their apartment by gunpoint. His father was arrested during Kristallnacht, September 9-10 1938, but was soon released because he was a World War I veteran.

    The family left Austria and after stopovers in France and Cuba, reached Brooklyn, NY, on September 1, 1939. Michael worked in a factory and Hilberg attended Lincoln High School. He enrolled in Brooklyn College until enlisting in the Army in 1944. He was deployed to Germany in 1945 with the 45th infantry division. He served with an Oklahoma division that liberated Dachau, but was not with the unit at the time. He was with the first troops that entered Munich. He was later assigned to the Army documentation division, which needed staff fluent in German. The war ended in May 1945. Nearly all the members of Hilberg's family on both his mother's and father's side were murdered during the Holocaust. Postwar, Hilberg assisted in the search for German documents to aid the prosecution at the war crimes trials. His unit was housed in the Nazi Party’s former offices in Munich. Crates containing Hitler’s personal library were stored there and Hilberg was fascinated by the contents. After his discharge, he returned to Brooklyn College and changed his major from chemistry to history and political science, graduating in 1948. He then focused on political science and international law and completed a master’s in public law in 1950 at Columbia University. He taught at Hunter College and then obtained a federal job in the War Documentation Project in Alexandria, Va., cataloging documents released from German archives, copying by hand material necessary to his own research. He received his doctorate from Columbia in 1955. His dissertation was on the Holocaust, which was not then a topic of academic study. His adviser, Franz Neumann, warned him that the subject would be detrimental to his career.

    In 1956, he took a position at the University of Vermont. In 1961, his book, “The Destruction of the European Jews” was published. It was the first comprehensive study of the Holocaust and established the field of Holocaust studies. It was a methodical, evidentiary work detailing the systematic, bureaucratic process that led to the mass murder of Jews as a matter of routine. Rejected by five publishers, it was accepted by the small Quadrangle Company after a patron, Frank Petschek, a wealthy businesman who had fled German occupied Czechoslovakia in fall 1938, agreed to subsidize the print run and purchase 1300 copies for libraries. In 1974, Hilberg offered the first college-level course on the Holocaust. He expanded his original work to three volumes and published five more books on the topic, as well as a memoir. He retired from the University of Vermont in 1991, after thirty-five years.

    Hilberg was dedicated to expanding the public understanding of the Holocaust. He was a key figure in the development and establishment of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, serving as an original member of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust (1978–79) and on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council from 1980 through 1988. In 2006, he received the Knight Commander’s Order of Merit in Germany, the highest award given to non-German citizens. Hilberg married Christine Hemenway in the 1950s. They had two children, and eventually divorced. In 1980, he married Gwendolyn Montgomery. Hilberg, 81, died of lung cancer in Williston, Vt., on August 4, 2007.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Postage stamps
    Physical Description
    a. First day cover postcard with a cachet of a stamp design, an adhered stamp, and a cancellation postmark. The cachet is an illustration featuring an orange and brown image of a stacked stone, chimney shaped memorial with a large basin on the top emitting a plume of smoke at a right angle, There is German text to the right and below. Adhered to the right is a stamp with perforated edges, 2.125 x 1.125 in., with the same image below a white panel with the value 20 (pfennig) and German text along the border. To the right is a stamped cancellation mark with treblinka in cut-out white text on a black field below the marks: BERLIN W8/ 20. 8. 63.-16. Printed on the back is a block of green text in the upper left, publication information in the center and right edges, and a large blank space for use.
    b. Unused, offwhite paper envelope with a letterhead printed in German on the front left corner. The triangular flap has an adhesive strip on the inside edge.
    a: Height: 4.125 inches (10.477 cm) | Width: 5.875 inches (14.923 cm)
    b: Height: 4.375 inches (11.113 cm) | Width: 6.375 inches (16.192 cm)
    a : paper, ink, adhesive
    b : paper, ink
    : adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The postcard was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993 by Raul Hilberg.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:22:19
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