Murnau POW Camp

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Oflag VII A Murnau, a typical German POW camp or just a nice place to wait out the war?

The camp covered about 77 hectares in the town of Murnau in Upper Bavaria, located about 50 km to the south-west of Munich.
Oflag VII A Murnau was designated by the Germans as a master camp ( Musterlager )
By most accounts life seemed much more bearable than most POW camps. This may have been due in part by the fact that it housed about 3 dozen generals and many high ranking Polish officers.


A Murnau theater production from a photo from 100’s that were accidentally found after the war – see the article

The camp had a theater, orchestra, a library with apparently 25,000 books, a lake to swim in, a sports field, various fund raising groups, political parties, its own currency system, a cooperative with the Red Cross and communications with outside family members.
As part of this communication, a post office system was set up in November of 1942.


View of the camp

  
Camp currency samples

The stamps were apparently designed by T. Kluzniak and “engraved” on hard wood tablets.
They were printed by hand in a crude fashion using whatever paper was available.
The ink with a base of linseed  or sunflower oil resulted in many colour varieties.
At some point they were printed on A5 paper.
Initially the stamps were issued imperforate but later were perforated by a wheel device.
Income from the post office was apparently directed to the Widows and Orphans Fund.
Proofs, color trials, unissued stamps and special souvenir sheets exist
A date of March 31, 1945 is given as the last day of stamp sales.
Most collectors will never have seen these stamps, they are scarce, expensive and ALL were forged in great quantities.

The stamps of Murnau have a strong political, historical background and religious overtone which may have escaped the notice of the Germans.
These stamps come in a multitude of colors and varieties. I will only show the stamps based on the primary Fischer catalog number .
  
Fischer no. 1,  1942, Oct 6 Camp building – 6 varieties listed
The second one is probably a later printing.

  
An original used copy and a test print.

Forgeries

A type I tete beche pair

  
A Type I & II forgeries
Note in particular the shape of the top letters.
The tail on the O is missing and the CZ are not joined together.


A Type III forgery.
All the lettering is very different

   
Fischer no. 2-3, 1942 Nov 12 – 17 Wires – 14 varieties

Forgeries
  
Both forgeries from the same author
Note the abundance of white space
The designer’s name is poorly rendered, they may not have known the proper spelling.


Fischer no. 4-5, 1942, 19 – 20 November Mail trumpet – 10 varieties listed

Forgeries
   
Type I & III forgeries
The top letters do not touch the frame
The Type III is very crude

  
Type II forgeries
The key here is their size which is about 25% larger than the original
Note also the large white space


Fischer no. 6, 1942, 14 December Fisherman’s Exhibition – 5 varieties listed

Forgeries
  
Type I & II forgeries
Both have very different top letters
On the type I the letters appear to trail off. The bottom left letters are inside the frame
On the type II the designer’s name is very legible and the bottom crescent shaped object is much larger

   
Fischer no. 7, 1942, 16 December Triptych from the camp chapel – 10 varieties listed


Genuine pair

Forgery

Type I forgery
The 1942 is too large
The central figure halo is indistinct
The heads on the figures are too large


Fischer no. 8, 1943, 15 April Mountains – 8 varieties listed

Forgery

Type I forgery
Overall quite good
The bottom letters are shaped very differently especially in size


Fischer no. 9, 1943, 3 November. Widow – 8 varieties listed

Forgeries
  
Type I & II forgeries
The type I is lacking any shading lines and the bottom letters are too small and awkward
The type II is well made. The 25 is different and the bottom letters are not uniform and too thin.

   
Fischer no. 10, 1943, 29 November. Canteen – 4 varieties listed


Fischer no. 12, 1944, 12 March. prison bars – 5 varieties listed


Fischer no. 13, 1944, 12 VIII. Church in Miechow – 4 varieties. The crosses come in different sizes


This is probably a forgery as many details vary from the block above


Fischer no. 16, 1945, 31 III White Eagle – 2 varieties


Fischer no.  D1 postage due, 1944, 30 December


Postcard Block1, 1945, 26 April

  
1945, 29 April, Camp Liberation – 4 values

Murnau was not the only POW camp to set up a postal system.
Woldenburg, Gross-Born and Neubrandenburg also set up similar systems.
generally their quality was superior to Murnau

Woldenburg Examples
   
The paper on this series was so thin, the reverse is easily  visible

  

  


A 1944 Olympic issue with a forgery on the right

Gross-Born example

Neubrandenburg example