After Germany’s declaration of war on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 it took only 7 days for the entire Lithuania to be in German hands. While the rather prompt resumption of postal services, however fragmentary, was being effected by Lithuanians themselves, the appointment of Generalpostkommisar Ostland on July 25, 1941, initially operating from Kaunas, completed the German overall takeover of the postal system as well.
One of the correlated novelties was the introduction of German-type printed Registration Labels or Etiquettes (Zettel) which, as gummed, were stuck on to the items so classified — in contrast to the previous Lithuanian and the short-lived Soviet-Lithuanian practice of hand-stamping. Moreover, in principle the German-type label was showing the preprinted name of the originating post office or facility, though for emergencies the regional postal stores also held a stock of printed blank labels.
In the early weeks of the occupation, German postal administration had to resort to makeshift measures: registration was effected by making use of previous Lithuanian handstamps, blank German-type labels with the P.O. name handstamped or inscribed, and so on. But before long, preprinted labels came to be the rule, and exceptions were few. (For Lithuania, the basic work on these matters is a study by Dr. Hermann Schultz published in May 1957 as Heft Nr.28 of the German philatelic society “Rhein-Donau”. This venerable study needs some updating but is still a classic.)
After the early months, an interesting exception and so far the only one known is a provisional and entirely hand-drawn registration marking in red crayon done at a major P.O. OLITA / ALYTUS, most likely resorted to on one day only, “29. VI. 43”. Although the P.O. was also a Dienstpostamt, it just had no blank labels either. The obviously very busy existence of this P.O. is documented by the fact that it had used hundreds of registration labels preprinted OLITA and 3 series of the bi-lingual OLITA ALYTUS: a, b and c.
Front of cover with the entirely provisional registration marking OLITA ALYTUS.
Back of cover with rds KAUNAS
Not unique but nevertheless relatively rare are blank registration labels with inscriptions or handstamps from P.O.s which could have been expected to be supplied with preprinted labels. An example is shown below:
Front and back of a cover with a blank registration label inscribed Kaunas 3
While the OLITA ALYTUS provisional registration marking is exceptional, some such provisionals are more “natural”, though also rare. They come from eastern parts of Vilnius District where the localities had gone through several administrations. During the Ostland period,entirely provisional registrations have been noted from VARNĖNAI, GRAUŽIŠKIAI, SALOS, DEVENIŠKĖS and there may be more. Although these P.O.s received fresh German-type date cancels, preprinted registration labels just failed to follow up. Shown below is a registered cover from DEVENIŠKĖS:
Front and back of a cover with an entirely provisional registration marking DEVENIŠKĖS. The rare date stamp here shows only the Lithuanian part of the name, but it so happens that Fugalewitsch’s postal markings catalogue (2nd ed. p. 227) shows the German part. The full cancel is still to be discovered.