Chemnitz, located in the German state of Saxony was, after Leipzig and Dresden, the largest city in the former German Democratic Republic (DDR). Chemnitz was a major railway junction and heavily bombed in the Second World War. From May 10, 1953 until May 31, 1990 the city was known as Karl-Marx-Stadt.
The city’s name was changed by the government of the DDR, which was established in 1949 during the occupation by Russian troops after the Second World War. That government introduced a law in 1952 that abolished all of the former states in the eastern part of the country and paved the way for name-changing of cities and states, thus allowing Chemnitz to be renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt in honour of Karl Marx, the German philosopher, economist, and revolutionary socialist.
Karl Marx was born in Trier on May 5, 1818. He has had a lot of influence on political philosophy and was one of the founders of the labour movement. In the history of socialism and communism, he was a major figure. He died in London on March 14, 1883 and was buried in Highgate cemetery, north London. In Karl-Marx-Stadt there is a huge bust of Marx that was depicted on a postage stamp issued on 5 October 1971. And the same bust was also featured on a stamp issued by the DDR in 1980.
As a result of the breaking down of the Berlin Wall in 1989, in October 1990 the Democratic Republic united with the Federal Republic. And, after a referendum was held, the name Karl-Marx-Stadt was abandoned in favour of the city’s old name – Chemnitz.
As a collector of prints of postmarks, I noticed that the numbers and letters in the stamps of Karl-Marx-Stadt corresponded with each other. As seen in the above envelope from 1968: Stamp Karl-Marx-Stadt 23 with Recorded Delivery mark 9023. The letter G at the bottom of the postmark bears no relationship to the Recorded Delivery mark.
Well, I found another stamp, also from 1968, with the number 1 in the outer ring of the postmark, the number 90 top centre and at the bottom the letter B – with a Recorded Delivery stamp with the number 901 and a letter b.
It is the same with the above postmark/recorded delivery stamp with the letter c.
But then suddenly it did not fit anymore. A stamp from 1969 without serial number, or the number 90 and the letters starting at the bottom. The recorded delivery label was edited with a blue pen, cancelling the letters dn. However, the number 901 was recorded with the office name.
Then another puzzle, the postmark Karl-Marx-Stadt with serial number 1, also from 1969, in the middle above the number 90 and the bottom of the letter v. But the recorded delivery stamp? Only the number 901 and no letter after the number.
What also no longer fitted was the stamp from 1969 with postmark Karl-Marx-Stadt 1 with the number 90 at the centre above and at the bottom the letter m. And the recorded delivery stamp? A recorded delivery label stamped with the office name and the pen-written c1. An emergency mark? It seems that the system of numbering and lettering of the stamps in relation to the recorded delivery labels was not consistent. I put these questions to a German philatelist who lives in Chemnitz who until now has not found an answer. In any case, I now view with close interest every registered envelope that I come across that originates from Karl-Marx-Stadt.