This web page, published by the Military Postal History Society, contains the text content of the single frame Conress of Versailles Mail exhibit pages created by the late Al Kugel. This exhibit was created by, and is the property of the late Al Kugel, and is being supplied by his heirs as a courtesy to the Military Postal History Society.
This exhibit shows mail to and from attendees at the Versailles peace talks, in 1919. In the wake of the Armistice agreement on 11 November 1918, The Allied & Associated Powers convened a meeting in the Chateau of Versailles, which had been built by King Louis XIV outside of Paris, to work out the terms of peace with defeated Germany. In the meantime, the Kaiser and Crown Prince had abdicated and sought exile in The Netherlands, while a Republic was declared as the new government back home in Germany. This exhibit was created by, and is the property of the late Al Kugel, and is being supplied by his heirs as a courtesy to the Military Postal History Society. (See http://militaryphs.org/blog) The Military Postal History Society (MPHS) is a non-profit organization for philatelists and stamp collectors interested in the collecting and studying of the postal aspects of all wars and military actions of all countries, including soldiers' campaign covers, naval mail, occupation and internment covers, patriotics, propaganda, V-mail, censorship and similar related material.
To view the exhibit page images, see: web page containing the image content of the exhibit frame.
In the wake of the Armistice agreement on 11 November 1918, The Allied & Associated Powers convened a meeting in the Chateau of Versailles, which had been built by King Louis XIV outside of Paris, to work out the terms of peace with defeated Germany. In the meantime, the Kaiser and Crown Prince had abdicated and sought exile in The Netherlands, while a Republic was declared as the new government back home in Germany.
Scarcely three weeks after the Armistice, President Wilson sailed for Europe on the S.S. George Washington, landing at Brest, France on 13 December. After visits in France and Britain, Wilson returned to Paris for a preliminary session of the Supreme War Council held on 12 January 1919. The first plenary meeting of the Peace Conference was held on the 18". Although representatives of 32 Allies were invited, it soon became clear that the “Big Four” (Premier Clemenceau of France, Prime Minister Lloyd George of Great Britain, President Wilson of the U.S. and Premier Orlando of Italy) would make most of the decisions.
There were long negotiations on a host of details, including boundary disputes, plebiscites, colonies, war reparations, future German armaments, etc. Finally a draft was completed and given to the Germans on 7 May. There were to be no negotiations, but the German representatives could comment on it and then in the end had to accept it more or less as originally written. The formal signing ceremony took place in the Hall of Mirrors in the Chateau on 28 June 1919.
Inbound mail sent to participants in the Congress is extremely elusive and seldom seen on the philatelic market. This example was mailed unfranked in Paris on 5 June 1919, but was charged the double deficiency rate of 30 centimes on delivery. Receiving postmarks of the Congress post office were applied.
Mail from the participants in the Congress, from both Versailles and the various meeting places in Paris, can be found, but it is surprisingly elusive. As a result, the impression created is that much of what may have exist4ed at one time is still held in official archives or has been discarded. Some communications were sent by courier to insure promptness and confidentiality, and examples are included in the exhibit. The order in which the material is shown is alphabetic for the Allies, then followed by covers from the German delegation.
U. S. Military Postal Express Service No. 702
22 Nov 1919
Special imprinted envelopes and cachets were used to designate official correspondence of the American Commission. These examples were sent by military courier. The envelope inscribed "Mission for Germany" is the discovery example, being unrecorded in the Postal History of the A.E.F., 1917-1923.
Covers sent by members of the American delegation through the special APO. The long cover is endorsed by C. Day of the Balkan Division.
Although President Wilson and official members of the American Commission arrived in France on 13 December 1918, little more than a month after the Armistice, it took some time to organize the conference and gather the delegations from some 30 countries. The actual work of the Commission staff extended over quite a few months.
Postal Express Service No. 702
Paris 20 Aout 1919
Cover sent by Courier as an Official Registered letter from Mr. Polk in Paris to Col. House in London, where it was received on 22 August 1919. Mr. Polk was Undersecretary of State and the Chairman of the American Staff of the Commission. This example of his personal cachet is the only such example seen by exhibitor.
Versailles 19 May 1919
Sa 28 June 1919
As one of the key interested participates, the Belgians sent a substantial delegation to the Peace Conference at Versailles. The lower cover was mailed from the special post office in the Chateau on 28 June 1919, the day that the Treaty was signed.
Versailles 28 June 1919
The postcard above depicts the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. It was cancelled on the day the Treaty was signed and sent to the British Consulate General in Paris, presumably as a souvenir by a member of the British Delegation.
Cover below was sent by courier from Ambassador Wellington Koo to Colonel House at the Hotel Crillon.
12 May 1919
7 June 1919
Postcard depicting the Hall of Mirrors sent by a member of the Finnish Delegation to Helsinki.
Cover below was mailed by a Greek Delegate from the special "Peace Congress" post office in Versailles. It is addressed to the attache of Prime Minister Venizelos in Paris. A very unusual usage.
Versailles 7 May 1919
28 June 1919
Postcard and cover with special markings of the "Headquarters of the Interallied Supreme Council of War," which was responsible for enforcing the terms of the treaty. The cover was mailed from the civil Post office in Versailles on the day that the treaty was signed, 28 June 1919,
Led by Col. T. E. Lawrence, an Arab uprising against the Ottoman Empire succeeded in the creation of the State of Hedjaz on the Red Sea coast of the Arabian Peninsula. in 1916. Prince Faisal went to the peace talks to look after the Arab interests. This cover was sent by him via courier to Col. House. An exceptionally elusive usage.
4 June 1919
The Italian Peace Delegation operated as a section of the Interallied Supreme War Council at Versailles. The above covers with a printed corner card (in Italian) and a similarly worded cachet (in French) are from the correspondence of Lt. Col. Casati to his family in Italy.
Paris 26 June 1919
Implementing the terms of the peace treaty fell to the staff of the delegations operating in Paris. Above cover was sent by a member of the Military Section of the Italian Delegation to Italy.
18 April 1919
26 January 1919
Due to its efforts in taking over a number of the former German colonies in the Pacific, Japan was treated as a full-fledged member of the Allied powers. However, it did not take an active part in the peace negotiations except with regard to taking over the German leasehold on the Shantung Peninsula in China. Upper cover sent by courier from Baron Chinda at the Bristol to Colonel House at the Crillon in April 1919.
Poland declared its independence on 11 November 1918. Minister President (Premier) Ignace Paderewski was the leader of its peace delegation. Lower cover sent from him by courier to Col. House at the Crillon in January 1919.
June 28, 1919
Souvenir cover franked by a member of the Portuguese delegation with a copy of each of the stamps available at the French post office at the Peace Conference.
Registered cover sent to Naples by the Romanian Delegate from the Resupply Commission for Transylvania.
19 February 1919
The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats & Slovenes (renamed Jugoslavia in 1929) was created at the end of the war out of the countries of Serbia and Montenegro plus territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy inhabited by South Slavs, including Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Dalmatia and Slovenia. These examples of mail sent by courier to Col. House at the Hotel Crillon and to Marshal Foch, the French Military Commander in Chief.
Versailles 2 June 1919
11 June 1919
The Germans were not invited to Versailles until very late in the process, on 6 May 1919, with the position of the Allies being that there would be no negotiations but that the Germans would be required to sign the completed document as presented. A special post office was established for the German delegates, with the mail being postmarked and sent by diplomatic pouch to Berlin for distribution to the addressees. Note that the special seal of the Delegation still included the imperial eagle, although the Kaiser and Crown Prince had abdicated months earlier. Registered mail with the special label is rarely seen.
Versailles 3 November 1919
23 April 1920
Although the Germans arrived late to the party, they were required to stay much longer than most of the others in order to report on how their government was complying with the various terms of the Treaty. In due course, the activity was moved from Versailles to Paris and the emblem on their cachet was changed from the imperial eagle to a less warlike bird representing the Weimar Republic. The special post office was closed, and mail was sent by pouch to the Berlin W8 Courier Office. Eventually, the activities of the Delegation were moved back to Germany, mainly in Berlin and Dusseldorf.