In czarist times Mažeikiai in Lithuania’s north-west was known under its artificial name Muravjovo given to enshrine a harsh governor of Lithuania, Muravyov. Spelled as Murawjewo, the name was retained during the German occupation in World War One. When the German Armeegruppe Lauenstein started its advance into Žemaitija and Courland on April 27, 1915, Mažeikiai as a rail fork leading from Liepaja (Libau) to both Riga and Vilnius became a contested object and was finally taken by German forces in early July 1915.
When the German army withdrew from Russia at the end of 1918, Mažeikiai was entered by the 39th Regiment of so-called International Division of the Red Army on January 25, 1919. During the German Grenzschutz drive on Riga in the spring of 1919 it was taken on March 5 by units of Garde-Reserve-Division.
As a railway knot linking Latvia and northern Lithuania with East Prussia, Mažeikiai retained its strategic importance throughout 1919 as well. In the second half of 1919 it was vital for Bermondt’s Westarmee or Zapadnaja Armija, and clashes between the “bermontininkai” and Lithuanians were numerous. During the departure of the “bermontininkai” in December 1919, Mažeikiai was entered from the north by Latvian troops, soon replaced by the Lithuanian 2nd Regiment.
In czarist times, Mažeikiai had a post office named Muravjovo but none during the German occupation. For German military uses there was the stationary Feldpost 223, located in the railway station, operational from early December 1915 to ca. November 1918. In 1919, German Grenzschutz troops (eventually Westarmee) in the Mažeikiai area could use Feldpost 168 in Liepaja (Libau) or Frw. Feldpost 383 stationed in Riga or Frw. Feldpost 3072 stationed in Šiauliai.
A mandate from Pašto Valdyba, signed on March 23, 1919 to open a Lithuanian post office at Mažeikiai as from March 16 was issued to E. Druve who had previously been appointed to establish a post office in Telšiai. Highly turbulent conditions made these tasks difficult, so in the absence of a progress report Druve’s mandate was annulled and a new postmaster, Rudolfas Tomsa, was appointed to Mažeikiai as from June 4, 1919. In 1922 he moved to Kybartai and later was promoted to a post in Pašto Valdyba.
For stamps, Mažeikiai was supplied with Fourth Berlin Issue, followed by the Sėjėjas Issue etc. To start with, cancelling was done in manuscript, showing place and date.
By August 1919, Mažeikiai used a one-liner cachet “Mažeikiai” which was usually supplemented by a handwritten date.
From about the same period also known is a one-liner cachet MAŽEIKIAI formed in capitals.
In early 1920 (or late 1919 ?) Mažeikiai was provided with a regular calendar-type postmarker, a standard boxed cahet with “R” for registration and a similar cachet without “R” for money orders and parcel cards.
In order to enhance the commercial value of official and semi-private stamps arranged by Bermondt’s Westarmee or Zapadnaja Armija, fake covers and cancellations have been produced. Shown below is a cover with a forged postmark “MAZEIKIAI a”.
Known provisional markings:
Manuscript cancelling with place and date:
24. 6. 19 cover to Germany, Berlin IV seven stamps [formerly Matuzas]
4. 7. 19 single, Berlin IV 60 [colln. Doniela]
Cancelled by one-liner with MS date:
9. 8. 19 single on piece, Berlin IV 30 [colln. Liesis]
19. 8. 19 single, Berlin IV 10 [colln. Doniela]
2. 9. 19 single, Berlin IV 30 [colln. Jankauskas]
Cancelled by one-liner in capitals:
19.9.(1919) single, Berlin IV 10 [colln. V. Jurkša]
Fake postmark “MAZEIKIAI a” on cover with Zapadnaja Armija overprints on Latvian stamps [reported by Lizdenis]