Lot #: 135371

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TRANSMITTED & RETURNED wartime civilian mail to Third Reich: Sept-Oct 1939 period commercial cover on Etz Hayim Yeshiva stationary (marked "return postage guaranteed") from JERUSALEM to SILUTE "Lithuania", likely franked 15m (Ba #108) now missing, for overseas surface mail & tied by strike of single-circle canceller of the sorting office (i.e. the cover was deposted un-postmarked into a pillar box and was processed only later when the box was emptied); as of 23 March 1939 the locale became part of German-annexed Memelland (not Lithuania), hence now processed by Wehrmacht censor ("Auslandsbriefpr?fstelle | K?nigsberg (Pr)") which approved it (straight line "Von der Wehrmacht zugelassen" instructional marking handstamp); backstamped 30.10.39 KONIGSBURG transit & next day HEYDEKRUG (Silute) arrival - but as address unknown, German/French 'Unknown' label applied on back, marked in German manuscript "return 31/10" in blue crayon on front & RETURNED TO SENDER in spite of WWII - 2 months after the outbreak of the war: received at HAIFA (i.e. by sea, not rail) where opened/sealed by Sacher-unlisted H. No. 9 Q9a red/pink label, tied by double-framed rectangle H9 censor handstamp (Sach-Q21) known used April 1940 & marked by local instructional marking handstamps "Return To" & " Undelivered For the Reason Stated on the Cover" (Sach L10/L12). Ironically, no indication return-fee charged (or collected). Slit open at bottom; frayed edges.

Of note: Palestine officially suspended all mail service to & from Germany on 6 Sept. 1939; as the cover lacks outgoing censor marks, the cover was likely sent not only prior to the 6th, but also prior to Sept 1, when WWII broke out and censorship began in Palestine. What may have facilitated the cover's onward transmission may have been the sender's unusual insistance of addressing the locale as "Lithuania" and not "Germany" - as such not affected by any postal suspensions affecting "Germany", but clearly processed by Germany once the war began, as evidenced by the wartime censor markings.

The extraordinary element of this cover is that the return of the letter was not due to suspended service between Germany and Palestine, but rather due to a procedural instance of an addressee not being at his supposed address, and neither Germany or Palestine used the "no service" markings that were in use at this time to process the cover. A study of Universal Postal Union convention history, of which both countries were members, does not shed much light on relations between beligerents in wartime (i.e. the 1939 Convention): a) adherence to the convention is voluntary and a violation of the principle of "liberty of transit" (articles 26/80) by one country can be reciprocated by a suspension of postal service with that country by the violated country, and "suspended service" mail between the two countries from the war period is known; b) the US State Department noted in 1946 that "the Union continued to operate as usual during the war, although postal service between many countries necessarily was curtailed or suspended" (ref Department of State, publication 2699 p.301-2 cited in Stuart Hull MacIntyre, 1958); c) and Palestine published in February 1942 (Official Gazette #1176) its adherence to the 1939 UPU convention. In conclusion the return & acceptance of this mail for non-political reasons cannot be unequivocally relegated to adherence to the UPU convention because "suspended service" mail with wartime Germany is known, but it's equally unlikely that this cover was returned to a belligerent by mistake. Likely, there may have been an inconsistent policy regarding the handling of such mail. Regardless, very rare postal handling - possibly unique in WWII Palestine postal history. Well documented postal history gem & highly ironic as from Jewish religious institute with Hebrew and Torah-crown device on cover - elements resticted by wartime German censorship regulations.

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Taxed Mail and related, Special or significant postage rates or surcharges, Significant mail routes, 1939-1945, Postal covers & entires, Jerusalem, Haifa, Silute, Heydekrug, Konigsburg, Lithuania, Palestine Mandate, Germany, Surface Mail, Censored Mail and related, Suspended service / no-service mail, Besieged / semi-besieged locales & territories, Dead letter, undeliverable & unclaimed mail, Military Post Offices or Military Administration, Multiple Postal Authority/Period mail, Occupied or annexed territories, Special processing, handling or delivery, Significant cachets, postmarks & postal markings, Processed by sorting office or other departments, Postal stationary - commercial, business, charity, Unusual postal procedures, fines or taxes, Earliest/Latest, First/Last & Proving dates or places, Object Related Specifically to a Personality or Key Event, Significant Addresses / Persons, Significant dates, Small locales, Unique / Discovery items, Unusual Origin, Destination or Postal Link