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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.
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.
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
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.
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