Romania stamps from the mid-1940s give us a riveting look at how stamps are turned into propaganda tools.
The practice was perfected by the Hitler regime, particularly with semi-postal stamps. But as the Second World War wound down, and the Soviets scrambled to install governments in their newly acquired puppet states of Eastern Europe, philatelic propaganda was back in full bloom.
In Romania, the Soviets had a particularly skeptical population to submit to communism. Rigged elections, designed to create the appearance of a coalition government, were held, and on November 19, 1946, Dr. Petru Groza became Prime Minister.
During this era, stamps depicted prominent communists and touted an apparent friendship between Romania and the Soviet Union. Symbols such as the hammer and the sickle, and topics such as labor, collective agriculture and youth organizations appeared.
In 1945, a set of 20 stamps was issued depicting King Michael I. Another 19 stamps of the king were released early in 1947. Then, in December, 1947, 13 months after the communists seized control, the king was forced to abdicate.
He lived in Greece, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. King Michael is still alive at the time of the writing of this article, and divides his time between Switzerland and Romania.
King Michael had lunch with Hitler twice, was decorated by U.S. President Harry Truman, and was actually the King of Romania twice, the first time when he was six years old.
His last appearance on a Romania stamp came just eight weeks before he was sent into exile. A Soviet-Romanian Congress issue was released on October 30, 1947. It was a semi postal, with an overprint and a surcharge appearing on a stamp depicting the king and a cathedral issued a few months beforehand.