gratuitous image
28 March 1996

Postwar Post

I am bewildered by a German stamp I received. It features six elements:

- 100 (pfennigs)
- Deutschland
- Europa
- 1945 Ende des krieges
- 1995
- a photograph of soldiers

I can't read the minuscule photograph. I am told it is a famous image, familiarity with its historical context would probably answer many questions. Are the soldiers German? Are they retreating? If so, why would the German government issue such a stamp?

It must be a cultural difference; I can't see the American government issuing a stamp commemorating the end of the Vietnam War. Americans wouldn't accept "USA fifty cents" underneath a photograph of a desperate mob trying to get on the last helicopter out of what was about to become Ho Chi Minh city.

Or maybe I can see such a stamp. After all, western capitalists have conquered Vietnamese communists after the former's military was defeated by the latter. Similarly, German businesses are succeeding where German armies failed.

Still, this is a disconcerting stamp. It's unsettling that World War II still has such resonance, even though it ended before most people alive today were born.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart