The difficulty in civilian communications in wartime between enemy territories has been a problem as far back as the civil war. This difficulty was solved by the use of undercover addresses, i.e. the address is one which does not indicate the ultimate destination of the correspondence. World War II saw a significant increase in the use of undercover addresses.
Due to its neutral status, Lisbon was the destination for numerous undercover addresses. Below are thumbnails of the front and back of four items addressed to Lisbon. The first is a postcard postmarked April 23, 1943, from Warsaw to P.T. Firma, Rua Alexandre Heruclans 41, Lisbon. This was an undercover address for the Polish offices in London. The card German Army censor marks and and a Lisbon receiving cancel dated May 9, 1943. The second is a cover postmarked February 11, 1942, from Warsaw to Firma Joao Alves, Rua do Arsenal 100, Lisbon. This was an undercover address for the Polish War Relief effort. The cover is sealed on the side with German Army censor tape and cancels and a Lisbon receiving cancel dated February 2, 1942, plus an unidentified purple pencil mark "PCK-18/XI 322." The third is a postcard postmarked July 8, 1944, from Przemsyl to Casa Costa, Rua do Salitre 25. This was an undercover address for an agency dealing with Polish food parcels. The fourth is a pre-printed parcel confirmation card from Zofija Sachackz in the Litzmanstadt ghetto, dated April 13, 1944, to "Amelia Lima" at Rua Rodrigo da Fonesca in Lisbon, which was an undercover address for the Polish Red Cross, Polish Missing Persons, and the HICEM Jewish aid organization. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "Lisbon" in the left frame to return.
A common method of sending mail from German occupied areas to family or friends living in Great Britain was to use the services of the Thomas Cook office in Lisbon, which used the undercover address of POB 506 for mail to be forwarded to Great Britain. Below are thumbnails of the front and back of a cover which shows the complete procedure used for this purpose. The cover is from E. Monasch in Amsterdam to R. Monasch living in London. The cover was originally addressed to POB 506, Lisbon and bears a November 1940 Amsterdam postmark and a Lisbon arrival postmark dated November 11, 1940. It was forwarded to the Thomas Cook office in London, where it was franked with a British stamp postmarked November 22, 1940, and redirected with a label of the final destination tied by a Thomas Cook official dated cachet. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "Lisbon" in the left frame to return.
As the headquarters for so many governments in exile, London was also a destination for numerous undercover addresses. Below are thumbnails of the front and back of a cover sent from Postbox 264, London to Curacao, Dutch Wets Indies. This was an undercover address for the Dutch Air Force. The cover bears a a Leuchars, England postmark dated May 15, 1941, and a Curacao receiving cancel dated November 8, 1941. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "London" in the left frame to return.
William Kaczinski, Undercover Mail of World War II, The Israel Philatelist, Vol. XLII No. 11/12, P. 6350
Undercover Addresses of World War II, Third Edition (Chavril Press, 2006)
Copyright © 2007 Edward Victor
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