1964 Red Orchestra Stamp Set | Postage Stamps

1964 Red Orchestra Stamp Set

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A set of six stamps issued in East Germany in 1964 depicted members of the famed Red Orchestra resistance groups during World War II.

Red Orchestra was the name given by the German Abwehr intelligence organization to a number of loosely-connected resistance cells located throughout Germany. Composed of devout communists, the Red Orchestra groups were assisted and directed by the Soviet Union. Over 400 people have been connected to the various groups by historians in recent decades.

The seven people featured on these six stamps were all captured and killed between 1942 and 1944.

Anton Saefkow, Franz Jacob, and Bernard Bastlien, the three men featured on the 5, 10, and 15 pfennig stamps were the leaders of the aptly-named Saefkow-Jacob-Bastlien Organization. Saefkow spent much of the 1930s in several different German prisons, serving sentences related to his communist activities. After being released in 1939 he teamed up with Jacob and Bastlien to form what would become the largest communist resistance group inside of Germany.  

In June 1944 they began conspiring on what would later be known as the July 20th plot; the plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  However, an informant betrayed them to German authorities, and when they arrived for a subsequent meeting, everyone there was arrested. All three men were executed in 1944.

Harro Shulz-Boysen (20 pfennig stamp) and Arvid & Mildred Harnack (40 pfennig stamp) formed two separate groups which eventually joined together in 1940 to form a wide-reaching communist espionage network inside Germany. The joint group was undone in 1942 when one of their members was tracked down while making a radio transmission. The German Abwehr subsequently learned the names of many of the other group members and made numerous arrests. The three leaders, along with Shulz-Boysen’s wife Libertas, were all executed in December 1942.

Adam Kuckhoff, on the 25 pfennig stamp, was a member of the Harnacks’ group. Arrested along with many others in September 1942, he was put to death in August 1943.

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