Buy a Lunar calendar and support environmental education


Specialist in East German Trade Union revenue stamps


By David W. Banks
An edited version of this article was first published in the January 2006 edition of German postal specialist (volume 57 No 1) and is reproduced by kind permission of the author.

Fig 1 The Association of German Shoemakers

Fig 2 German Worker's Front Member Book

Fig 3 National Socialist War Victims Welfare Service

Fig 4 Hamburg Patients (sick or ill) and Burial Fund

Fig 5 New Citizen Federation

Fig 6 Free German Trade Union Federation 1947-1948

Fig 7 Free German Trade Union Federation 1951-1952

Fig 8 Free German Trade Union Federation 1957-1958

Fig 9 Free German Trade Union Federation card

Fig 10 Free German Trade Union Federation 1958

Fig 11 donated blood in Dresden

Fig 12 Free German Trade Union Federation

Fig 13 Free German Trade Union Federation 1972

Fig 14 Free German Trade Union Federation 1989

Fig 15 People's Solidarity

Fig 16 Democratic Women's Federation of Germany

Fig 17 Society for German-Soviet Friendship

Fig 18 Liberal Democratic Party of Germany

Fig 19 The (East) German White-Collar Employees' Union

Fig 20 The Christian Democratic Union

Fig 21 Federation of Old Age Pensioners and War Survivors

Fig 22 Various loose revenue stamps

An often overlooked area of German Philately is the collection of German Trade Union and Political Party booklets and their associated dues stamps.

Prior to Hitler and the Nazis Party taking power, organized labor held a well established and influential place in German culture. Eighty-five (85%) percent of German Union membership was held between the Free Trade Unions (Freie Gewerkschaften) and Christian Trade Unions (Christlichen Gewerkschaften).

Figure 1 shows the dues stamps for one such early Trade Union - the Vereins Deutscher Schuhmacher or the Association of German Shoemakers. These particular dues were for the period January through December 1889.

The Nazi Party, however, decided the German Free Trade Unions conflicted with their objectives. Hitler stated in Mein Kampf:
"It (trade unions) created the economic weapon which the international world Jew uses for the ruination of the economic basis of free, independent states, for the annihilation of their national industry and of their national commerce, and thereby for the enslavement of free people in the service of the above-the-state- standing, world finance Jewry (ueberstaatlichen Weltfinanz-Judentums)."

The Nazi Party's goal, as directed by Dr. Robert Ley, Chairman of the Nazi Committee for the Protection of German Labor, was nothing less than 100% membership of all workers in Nazi controlled organizations. On 2 May 1933, all Free Trade Unions were declared illegal and destroyed by the National Socialist German Labor Party or Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP).
However, even the Nazi Party could not eliminate the decades old celebration of German Labor Day which is held on May 1st each year and is still celebrated today.

Figure 2 shows the dues stamps of 1937 and 1938 from a German Worker's Front Member Book (Die Deutsche Arbeitsfront Mitgliedsbuch). This particular book had continuous membership from November 1935 to May 1944 when it ended abruptly.

Figure 3 is a booklet titled Nationalsozialistische Kriegsopferversorgung or National Socialist War Victims Welfare Service. The N.S.K.O.V. stamps support the National Socialist League for Disabled Veterans. The pages shown in Fig. 3 are for the years 1938 to 1941. The last entry in the booklet is for June 1944.

Germany had several Organizations which supported War Veterans or Civilian Casualties. One such is shown in figure 4. This booklet was titled Hamburger Kranken- und Sterbekasse von 1876. This is translated as the Hamburg Patients (sick or ill) and Burial Fund established in 1876. The booklet was issued on 4 January 1947 and contained weekly contributions through March of 1951 with figure 4 showing the stamps for the year 1947.

After World War II, Trade Unions proliferated, especially in East German.

Figure 5 shows a card for the Neubuergerbund or New Citizen Federation. This was a non-partisan refugee organization. The individual who owned this card lived in Weissdorf bei Muenchberg and joined the organization on 1 March 1949. the figure shows his contributions from March 1949 through June 1951 when he either was issued another card or joined anther organization.

The largest and most significant of the East German Trade Unions was the Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (FDGB), the Free German Trade Union Federation. As of 1985, approximately 96 percent of all workers (including manual laborers, white-collar workers, and the intellectual members of society) (9.4 million members) belonged to the FDGB.

The work place in East Germany was typically the center of the average citizen's existence. The local union offered the average worker a variety of educational, cultural, and social activities. In addition, the FDGB administered the social insurance program and provided vacation centers and packaged holidays for workers. Union activities filled every aspect of the worker's life.

The FDGB had a social function to perform. In the mid-1980s, it cooperated with schools and businesses to instill in the worker an appreciation of the social value of work and an awareness of the social duties expected of a business owner. Children were encouraged to visit and interact with factory workers.

The FDGB member booklets had a place at the back of the booklet for sondermarken or special marks. These often concerned special events or made political commentary.

Figure 6 is an early FDGB member booklet from 1947-1948. The dues stamps ended after February 1949.

Figure 7 is another very early FDGB member book. The pages shown in the figure are from 1951-1952. the owner of this book began membership in March 1949 and completed filling in the book in December 1954. Early commemorative stamps for the Vienna Congress of People for Peace are shown.

Figure 8 is an FDGB book from 1957-1958 while figure 9 is an FDGB card showing membership from august 1959 to April 1962. Figure 10 is the first page in another FDGB book showing the issue date of 17 October 1958.

As previously mentioned, many FDGB book had places for sondermarken of special marks. Figure 11 makes note that the member donated blood or gave a blood transfusion in Dresden. The FDGB book shown in Figure 12 has a stamp "Kampf dem Atomtod", meaning "Fight Atomic Death".

The 1972 FDGB book in figure 13 not only paid the monthly dues but applied a liberal dose of propaganda with the Vietnam Solidarity stamps. The Berlin Wall came down the in November 1989 and the final FDGB book, shown in figure 14, paid dues through December 1989.

Figure 15 is from a small green book for "Volks Solidaritaet" of "People's Solidarity". This booklet covered the years 1960-1967. these stamps appear to commemorate an individual's participation in social welfare service activities.

The Democratic Women's Federation of Germany (Demokratischer Frauenbund Deutschlands (DFD) was the official mass organization for women in East Germany. It was stablished in 1947 to spearheaded the campaign for equal rights for women. By 1985, the DFD had 1.5 million members. Figure 16 shows the dues pages for 1982 and sondermarken commemorating the 1982 and 1983 DFD Federal Congress.

The Society for German-Soviet Friendship (Gesellschaft fuer Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschaft (DSF) was an East German organization established to promote closer co-operation between East Germany and the Soviet Union.

It was originally founded as the Society for the Studies of Soviet Culture to teach Russian culture to Germans who were unfamiliar with it. However, it very quickly turned into a propaganda tool and eventually changed its name to the Society for German-Soviet Friendship.

Mikhail Gorbachev's popularity with the common East German worker let the DSF's membership grow massively in the last years of the Soviet Union. The pages shown in figure 17 are from such a member booklet and cover the period from January 1988 through December 1989. No additional entries were made following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.

The Deutschlands Liberal Demokratische Partei of Liberal Democratic Party of Germany (LDPD) was an East German political party.

Figure 18 shows contributions for January through December 1969. the entire booklet spanned the years from January 1966 through December 1976.

The (East) German White-Collar Employees' Union or Deutsche Angestellten-Gewerkschaft (DAG) was composed solely of salaried employees, primarily high-level technocrats and managers engaged in private enterprise. Figure 19 shows the dues stamps for January 1968 through December 1971 of one such member.

The Christian Democratic Union or Christlich Demokratische Union (CDU) was a political party in East Germany. The CDU was a moderate Christian and right-of-center party. Figure 20 is an early booklet of the CDU with dues stamps beginning in June 1956 and ending in June 1959, the last 18 months being shown in the figure.

One of the more uncommon booklets is shown in Figure 21. This is the Reichbund Der Kriegs-u und Zivilbeschaedigten, Sozialrentner und Hinterbliebenen E. V. or (as close as I can translate it) the Federation of Old Age Pensioners and War Survivors. This booklet began with dues paid in March 1960 and ended with the last entry in December 1969. Since the booklet was filled, it is presumed the individual began another book and continued membership in this group. Figure 21 shows the years of 1961-1962.

Figure 22 is an assortment of loose stamps for which the books are still being sought. The DBV stamps are for a German Farmers Union. The others are various German Worker's Front or National Socialist German Labor Party stamps.

Collecting union or political party books, booklets and individual stamps is enjoyable. By diligently searching eBay, Stamp Shows, local Dealer's offerings of "oddballs" and other stamp outlets, you never know what may be discovered.

Various German Trade Unions

DGD - German Federation of Trade Unions
(Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund)
DBB - German Federation of Career Public Servants
(Deutscher Beamtenbund)
DAG - German White-Collar Workers' Union
(Deutsche Angestellten-Gewerkschaft)
CGB - Christian Trade Union Federation of Germany
(Christlicher Gewerkschaftsbund)
FDGB - Free German Trade Union Federation
(Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund)
DFD - Democratic Women's League of Germany
(Demokratischer Frauenbund Deutschlands)
FDJ - Free German Youth
(Freie Deutsche Jugend)
DDR/KB - Culture Association of the GDR
(Kulturbund der DDR / KB)
DSF - Society for German-Soviet Friendship
(Gesellschaft für Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschaft)
JP - Young Pioneers (Junge Pioniere)
GST - Society for Sport and Technology
(Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik)
VdgB - Association for Mutual Farmers Assistance
(Vereinigung der Gegenseitigen Bauernhilfe)
KdT - Chamber of Technology
(Kammer der Technik)
DTSB - German Gymnastics and Sports Association
(Deutscher Turn- und Sportbund)
DRK - German Red Cross
(Deutsches Rotes Kreuz)
VS - People's Solidarity
VDS - Association of German Shoemakers
(Vereins Deutscher Schuhmacher)

Various Political Parties:

SED - Socialist Unity Party of Germany
(Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands)
CDU - Christian Democratic Union
(Christlich-Demokratische Union)
DBD - Democratic Farmer's Party of Germany
(Demokratische Bauernpartei Deutschlands)
LDPD - Liberal Democratic Party of Germany
(Liberaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands)
NDPD - National Democratic Party of Germany
(Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands)
NSDAP - National Socialist German Labor Party
(Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
NSKOV - National Socialist War Victims Welfare Service
(Nationalsozialistische Kriegsopferversorgung)