Today in Postal History

Germany to Spain
August 8, 1936

This airmail cover was prevented from reaching its destination by the Spanish Civil War.

The cover was sent from Berlin's Charlottenburg station where it received two CDS.

The cover was franked with 1934 3x5pf bright green and
  25pf ultramarine Hindenburgs (Scott 418 and 425).

An airmail etiquette was attached.

Its destination was Camp de Mar near Andratx on the western edge of Mallorca.
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean south of Barcelona.
 The recipient was staying at the Hotel Playa - apparently a family oriented three star resort today.

The Spanish Civil War between the Republicans and their supporters and the Nationalists
and their supporters under General Francisco Franco had begun in earnest in July.
By July 26, Adolph Hitler had agreed to military support for Franco.
This Spanish Civil War chronology records the history
of this step on the road to World War II.

It so happens that on August 8, the French closed the border to Spain to stop volunteers.

The cover was given a roller machine cancel at Le Bourget.
The date is fairly illegible but I guess it was cancelled on August 9.

The cover was marked RETOUR A L'ENVOYEUR - Return
to Sender - twice on the front and once on the back.

Jaume (jaumebp) suggests that the cover probabaly got to Barcelona where it was turned around:

"In the early stages of the civil war, mail entering Spain from France and other European countries was
handled in Barcelona, controlled by the Republic.  The rest of the mediterranean coast down to Malaga and all the mediterranean navy was also controlled by the Republic government.  [See Spanish Civil War.]

"On the other hand, right from the beginning of the war, the island of Mallorca sided with the sublevation [insurrection]. The island was completely isolated during the initial months of the war until an air mail service was established by the Ala Littoria, on November 2, 1936. The route flew from Rome to Cagliari to Pollensa (in Mallorca), and was further extended on December 7, 1936. The new route flew from Rome to Pollensa, to Melilla (Spanish city in Africa) to Cadiz. This would remain the main artery of communication
to Mallorca for most of the war (until July of 1938).

"I believe that your cover probably made it into Spain, to Barcelona, where it was returned to sender as delivery to Mallorca was not possible.

"Incidentally, I have a cover from Igualada
(near Barcelona), and addressed to Palma de Mallorca. The letter is dated July 18, 1936 (the day the rebellion started). The cover made it to Barcelona where it was returned to sender."

Jaume ended with a suggestion that the RETOUR marks on the two covers be compared.
They are certainly made from the same family of stamps if not identical stamps.
This would certainly suggest that the mail did get to Barcelona despite the border closure.

The cover was stamped with a bold Zurück on its return to Germany.
Zurück meant 'back' to sender.*

*Thanks to Bjorn Munch for correcting my interpretation of this marking.
I really should have known better.
Thanks, too, to Jaume for his very interesting note.


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