Polish Offices in Danzig Free State (1920 – 1939)

ALBUM – View my Polish Offices in Danzig album

Fast Facts

Region: Germany / Poland Area
Group: Danzig Area
Classification: Offices in Foreign Countries
Key Dates:
  1920, Oct 10 – First Polish Post Office in Danzig established.
  1925, Jan 5 – Polish post office building opened to the public in Danzig
  1939, Aug 29 – Polish postal worker murdered by Nazi soldiers
  1939, Sept 1 – Germans attacked Polish Post Office in Danzig
Scott Catalogue: (Poland, Offices in Foreign Countries) #1K1-1K36
Pick Catalogue: none
Currency: (Polish currency) 100 Groszy = 1 zloty


History

The opening of the Polish Post Office "Gdańsk 3" in 1925
The opening of the Polish Post Office “Gdańsk 3” in 1925
Following the defeat of Germany in World War 1, the Allied powers decided to create the Free City of Danzig (under a commissioner appointed by the League of Nations). Since the population of the city was predominantly German, it was not placed under Polish sovereignty, instead it was made a semi-autonomous state under the protection of the League of Nations. The residents of the Free City governed its own internal affairs, but external affairs were put under Poland, which included a binding customs union which assured Poland an access to the sea.

According to the Treaty of Versailles, Poland was allowed to create a separate post office in the Free State of Danzig. A working agreement between the Free State and Poland was established and the Polish post office was established on 10 Oct, 1920, named “Urzad Ekspedycji Pocztowej” (Office of
Postal Expediting). The Polish offices were considered extraterritorial Polish property, and the primary duties of this service was to handle mail between Poland and international destinations. A second post office (#2) was opened at the main railway station on 14 Apr, 1923.

On 5 Jan, 1925, the Polish Postal and Telegraph office was opened at Hevelius Square. This was the first office to be open to the public, as the first to were primarily for mail processing only. Mail posted at the Polish post office in Danzig used stamps of Poland, overprinted “PORT GDANSK” which were valid for mail service only at the Polish post office or specifically designated mail boxes placed at various corners within the city. The post office and mail boxes were frequent targets for vandalism due to the large German nationalistic movement within the city.

GER - Danzig, Polish Office MapAs the Germans prepared for their offense against Poland, a German battleship, the Schleswig-Holstein, entered into the waters of the Free State on 25 Aug, 1939. On the 29th, solders entered the city and at noon, in front of the Police Commissariat, murdered a Polish mail carrier by throwing the victim to the ground and kicking him to death. The mail carrier, Franciszek Mionskowski was the first victim World War II. On 1 Sept, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, initiating World War II.

Since the majority German population in Danzig were supporters of the Nazi regime, the Polish post office complex represented a natural target for the invading forces. Just a few months earlier, as war with Germany became more likely, the Polish High Command had sent a combat engineer to Danzig to organize training for the Post Office staff, improve the defenses around the building and establish a cache of weapons for defense. There were 57 people in the post office complex when the attack began at 4:00am on September 1st. The defenders were able to hold off the invaders until 6:00pm, until the Germans finally were able to capture the building. In the end, 6 were killed during the action, 2 defenders were killed trying to surrender, 4 escaped and the remaining were taken prisoner, put on trial, court martialed, and sentenced to death by firing squad as illegal combatants under the German special penal law of 1938.

Germany officially annexed the Free City and for the duration of World War 2 it remained under German Control.

Stamps

GER - Danzig, Polish Office StampALBUM
With the opening of Polish Post Office at Hevelius Square on 5 Jan, 1925, eleven Polish definitive stamps depicting the Polish Coat of Arms were overprinted “PORT GDANSK” and released for sale. This caused some anger among the German population within the city, as instead of using the official name of the city “Danzig”, they used the Polish name “Gdansk.

For the rest of the existence of the office, additional definitive stamps of Poland were overprinted “PORT GDANSK” and sold in Danzig, including the 1 zloty issue featuring the Polish President Ignacy Mościcki.

On 11 Nov, 1938 the first stamps to be specifically printed for use in Danzig were issued. The engraved stamps were released in 4 denominations and depicted Polish merchants selling wheat in Danzig in the 16th Century. These stamps were sold until the German attack on 1 Sept, 1939.

Banknotes

Danzig or Polish currency was used

Links

Defense of the Polish Post – Gdansk Life
Polish Post Office in Danzig – Wikipedia
Defense of the Polish Post Office – Wikipedia
Poland’s Postal Service in Danzig – from Stamp News Now

This entry was posted in City States, Foreign Post Offices, Germany / Poland Area. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Polish Offices in Danzig Free State (1920 – 1939)

  1. Jim Jackson says:

    Absolutely excellent presentation on the Polish Post Offices in Danzig.

    The phrase “Man’s inhumanity to Man” comes to mind.

    • Michael says:

      Thanks Jim:
      I am still debating to myself whether foreign post offices (such as this, POs in China, the Ottoman Empire, etc.) are truly “dead countries”. But for now, I am including them.

      Many of the entities in a “dead country” collection have sad histories of brutality, military action, enslavement, taking advantage of the native populations and so forth. Hopefully as we educate ourselves in the sins of the past, that we can bring to light some of today’s inhumanities, such as human trafficking, slavery (which still exists today in some parts of the world), and governments which abuse their population. One great organization I have found is International Justice Mission (IJM). If you are not familiar with them, check them out.

      Michael

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