Scandinavian Collectors Club


            During the First World War several relief or aid or “benevolent” societies offered help to the families of detainees, prisoners of war, and internees. Since Sweden was neutral during the war, these organizations were based in Stockholm. The primary one was the German Relief Society whose roots in Sweden go back to the last quarter of the 19th century. Its activity increased drastically during WW I when various offices were established in Stockholm through which donations and mail were conveyed, and research was undertaken to locate civil and military personnel.

            Koop’s book dwells largely on the support of Germans seeking information about POWs held in Russia. A variety of preprinted postal cards were available to relatives and a number of these, postally used, are shown. Some of them bear censorship markings. A few covers are also illustrated from Africa, South America, and elsewhere. Some mail originated from detained ships like the German vessel Parma that sailed to Chile to pick up saltpeter (potassium nitrate) used to make gunpowder. Preprinted value letters were also used for remittance of funds, often bearing wax seals on the reverse.

            In addition to the German aid society there were similar ones established by Austro-Hungary, Poland, and Russia in Stockholm, seeking connection to POWs held in Germany. Some used examples of their specially printed stationery are also shown. A brief mention of the Swedish Red Cross Help Committee for POWs concludes the text. A bibliography provides some of the sources used by the author.

            The color scans are a little on the light side so that some of the markings are not completely discernible, nor are they explained. However, for military postal historians and postal stationery collectors seeking a fascinating niche of material, this book offers something off the beaten track.

Alan Warren