by Ivan Chernyavskyj    (The journal of the ROSSICA society of Russian philately no 75 1968)  ((If anyone objects to me publishing this, mail me!!)

Official announcement Editorial comment (Rossica) My comments Maps

 When and how did the issues come about?


On Saturday, 24 May 1919, the Ukrainian forces left Kolomyya. On Monday afternoon, 26 May 1919, the Roumanian occupation units took over Kolomyya and the entire Pokuttya area ( Pokutia, or the Kolomyya district of the Western Ukraine.) In the first days of the Roumanian occupation , all normal private communication were practically at a standstill. From sunset to sunrise, that is, both during the evening and the night, noone was allowed to leave their homes or to have lights on in the houses. Offices could only function if their duties pertained to the requirements of the occupation authorities, who were known as "The Command of the Occupation Army in Pocutia", under the direction of the Roumanian Colonel G. Liciu.

At the same time, all private mail was stopped and the postal service functioned only for official agencies, such as the Roumanian  "Ofic. Tel. Postal Militar Divizia VIII" (Military Postal and Telegraphic Office of the 8th Division )
(See ill. 1) This remained the case until 12 june 1919.

On that day, the Roumanian Major Turbatu arrived in Kolomyya, as the representative of the Post Office Direction Authorities, in order to resume and regulate postal communications in Pokutia. Ascertaining about me at the post office in Kolomyya to the effect that I was a philatelist from pre-war days and hearing from one of the postal officials that I had taken part in the emission of Ukrainian stamps during the Ukrainian administration, he invited me to the post office there. When I arrived, we bacame acquainted and after that, he informed me that he intended to begin normal postal services and asked that I express my views as to the kind of postage stamps to be utilized during the occupation.

When I stated my opinion that it would be best to bring in Roumanian postage stamps, as there would be more of them than either Ukrainian or Austrian, which were probably not available in suitable quantities, he told me that the Command was not agreeable to introducing Roumanian stamps as the occupation was to be a temporary affair only. he went on to say that a large quantity of Austrian postage stamps had been collected from all post offices in Pokutia, as well as Chernivtsy (Chernovtsy, Cernauti or Czernowitz, the capital of Northern Bukovina, which now forms part of the Ukrainian SSR). They would have to be overprinted in a suitable way, since if they were not treated in this manner, the former Austrian stamps could be brought in from abroad, to the detriment of the governmental postal income. The overprinting was to be done in such a way that it would not be a direct designation of Roumanian sovereignty.

After much discussion, we decided that the austrian stamps be overprinted with a handstamp inscribed "C.M.T.", which initials stood for "Comandamentul Militar Teritorial" or "The Territorial Military Command" and that the designation of the new value was to be in Austrian currency, namely 40h, 60h and 1k 20h. With this aim in view, three suitable metal dies were engraved in rectangular form.

Major Turbatu further announced that he was immediately leaving for Chernivtsy (Cernauti) where he would supervise everything, namely the engraving of the dies and the surcharging by hand of the entire stock of Austrian stamps which were available at Chernivtsy, and, after two or three days, bring them up to Kolomyya for use.

Meanwhile, normal postal services were opened for public use and a negligible amount of Roumanian stamps was made available for franking mail. Upon my request as a philatelist, two such Roumanian stamps were affixed by favor on a cover and cancelled with a Roumanian postmark dated 12 jun. 1919 (See Ill 1) as a memento of the day the postal service was opened.

I would like to mention here that because of the very strict censorship on letters, the private volume of mail during the entire period of the Roumanian occupation was not great ; the public sent letters almost exclusively to official agencies.

On 14 June 1919, Major Turbatu came back in the afternoon to Kolomyya, bringing with him the entire stock of surcharged Austrian stamps. He again invited me to the post office and showed me all the stamps in the cash office there. we both examined this entire stock, sheet by sheet, so as to ensure that the stamps agreed with the tabulation that Major Turbatu had brought with him.

Upon my request, Major turbatu allowed me to list the totals of the stamps he had brought up, both for philatelic purpose and to confirm the numbers issued, which I then did. A copy of this statement is given hereunder:

Tabulation of the quantities of the Austrian postage stamps and postcards surcharged C.M.T. and new value, which were delivered to the post offices in Pokutia by the Command of the Occupation Army in Pokutia during the occupation

    S T A M P S     D U E S Cards
POST OFFICE 40h/5h 60h/15h 60h/20h 60h/25h 60h/30h 1k20h/50h 1k20h/60h 1k20h/1k 40h/5h 1k20h/1910 1k20h/1916 1k20h/30h 1k20h/50/24h 40h/10h
Delatyn   500 2000 300 300 300   150 100 20       100
Horodenka   500 2000 300 300 300   150 100   120     100
Kolomyya 8 2500 8000 2000 1400 1400 40 220 400 58   17 15 600
Lanczyn   500 2000 300 300 300   150 100 20       100
Sniatyn   500 2000 300 300 300   150 100 20       100
TOTALS 8 4500 16000 3200 2600 2600 40 820 800 118 120 17 15 1000

This table confirms the following facts:
(a) The quantities surcharged of every value and on what Austrian stamps they were applied.
(b) Furthermore, Major Turbatu immediately sent a portion of these stamps to the post offices at Delatyn (Delyatin), Horodenka, Lanczyn (Lanchyn) and Sniatyn (Snyatyn)
     and the tabulation states what type of stamps were sent there.
(c) Apart from the postage stamps, postcards were also surcharged and issued, namely the old Austrian internal and external types of 10h value
     (see ill 2 for a photo of of the external type from the J.S. Terlecky collection. The internal type is similar, but lacks the bilingual German and French inscription to the left of the stamp die)

At the same time, he ordered that all other post offices in the area could, in case of need, apply to the post office in Kolomyya for the stamps required by them. Major Turbatsu then told me that the entire stock of Austrian stamps had been surcharged and allocated in the above manner and that there were no more stamps for distribution. Moreover, if this stock did not prove adequate during the period of occupation, then ordinary Roumanian postage stamps could be utilized as a last resort.

The quantities of the roumanian occupation stamps and their types
It is evident from the table above that only 13 types of Austrian postage stamps were surcharged, namely:
(a) Ordinary postage stamps: 40h on 5h, 60h on 15h, 20h, 25h and 30h, 1k20h on 50h, 60h and 1k
(b) Postage due stamps: 40h on 5h, 1k20h on 25h (1910 issue), 25h (1916 issue), 30h and 50/42h
(c) 40h on 10h internal and external postcards
There were no other surcharges on any Austrian postage stamps during the entire Period of occupation and all other surcharges are speculative and originate from some time after the occupation, as i will show below. By way of explanation, I might add that Major Turbatu gave me all the above information very gladly, not only because I was a philatelist but also in my capacity as a former president of the court, I was appointed by the Roumanian occupation authorities as Director for Judicial Affairs during the occupation.

Of the other post offices in the occupied region, those at Peczenizyn (Pechenizhyn) and Zablotow (Zabolotiv) asked for and received 360 copies each of these stamps and the office at Obertyn obtained 240 copies. No further post office asked for these stamps.

From the letters which arrived in Kolomyya, I was able to ascertain that these stamps were being used at the post offices of Horodenka, Kolomyja, Obertyn, Peczenizyn, sniatyn and Zablotow (Horodenka, Kolomyya, Obertyn, Pechenizhyn, Snyatyn and Zabolotiv) and I have such covers in my collection. On the other hand, I do not have letters from Delatyn (Delyatyn) and Lanczyn (Lanchyn) and I have never encountered such letters.

At the same time that these stamps were brought up to Kolomyya on 14 June 1919, major Turbatu took along with him an official announcement of the Army of Occupation in Pokutia, written only in German and entitled "Instruktionen betreffend die wiederaufnahme des amtlichen und privaten Post - und Telegraphenverkehrs im besetzten gebiet" relating to the usage of the "C.M.T." stamps. This proclamation was posted on the notice board at the post office, at the Town Hall and the City Court of Kolomyya. There was no further dissemination of this notice elsewhere in town. For the text of this announcement, please see the Appendix below.

The technical execution of the C.M.T. stamps

So far as the technical production of these surcharges is concerned, it was performed using three handstamps, i.e. one each of 40h, 60h and 1k20h values and the military authorities at Chernivtsy (Cernauti) furnished them.

Upon careful examination of all sheets by me in the presence of major Turbatu, it happened that eight sheets were found of the 60h on 20h surcharges where the first position had an inverted surcharge, resulting from a mistake made by the soldier, while there were several dozens of stamps on the 20h sheets with double surcharge.

With the permission of major turbatu, I then purchased on the spot a block of four with the inverted surcharge on the first stamp and a similar block of four with the diuble surcharge. The remaining errors went into general use at the post office. All other sheets were surchargd correctly.

The Roumanian occupation of pokutia lasted until 20 August 1919. On that day, upon a directive from Major Turbatu, all the above-mentioned post offices in the occupation zone returned their unsold stamps to the post office at Kolomyya, where they were collected together with the stamps remaining unsold at Kolomyya.

The number of unsold "C.M.T." stamps
At the invitation of Major Turbatu, I was at the post office in Kolomyya and bought a few items from these reminders for philatelic purposes. Major Turbatu recounted the balance in my presence and took them back to Chernivtsy (Cernauti) in accordance with the tabulation hereunder, which I drew up myself in his presence and with his permission. The following quantities remained from the entire issue:
12 copies        of the    60h/15h     postage stamps
5190 copies    of the    60h/20h     postage stamps
130 cpies       of the    1k20h/50h  postage stamps
41 copies        of the    40h/5h       postage dues   
30 copies        of the    1k20h/25h 1910 issue  postage dues
2 copies          of the    1k20h/ 50/42h postage dues
Ther were no other remainders

The evacuation of the Roumanian occupation forces began on 21 August 1010 and at the same time, the Polish forces took over all of Pokutia. This then is the full story of the "C.M.T." stamps of the Roumanian occupation at Kolomyya in Pokutia.

Where did the other types of "C.M.T." stamps come from?

In addition to the 13 authentic types of surcharged "C.M.T." stamps noted above, we find that a whole range of other Austrian stamps is listed with "C.M.T." surcharges in every catalogue and in general at fabolous prices.

How did this come about? For a long time, this was a real puzzle to me, especially in view of the fact that I had completely authentic documentation for the actual surcharges and had checked every phase of issue of these stamps with my own eyes. It was not until January 1920 that I had an opportunity to find out about this. On the 20th of that month, an acquaintance of mine, dr W.R. visited me in Kolomyya. He was both a collector and a stamp dealer. Upon my enquiring about the above problem, he gave me the following information: -

(a) A few days before 20 August 1919, a professor from Chernivtsy (Cernauti), whose name, however, Dr W.R. either could or would not divulge, arrived in Kolomyya bringing with him 100 complete sets of unused Austrian stamps, being the regular issue from 3h to 1k, as well as a number of postage due stamps from 5h to 1k. In the absence of Major Turbatu, he arranged to have them stamped in Kolomyya with the postal seal of that office and subsequently, after the occupation had ended, had the "C.M.T." handstanmps applied to them in Chernivtsy by some method unknown to Dr W.R.  he then took these stamps to Vienna and sold them to stamp dealers as authentic copies. Amongst other buyers, the well-known Viennese firm of "F" purchased such a set.

(b) Upon the termination of the occupation, i.e. at the beginning of September 1919, a consortium of speculators was formed at Chernivtsy. they bought a large number of various unused Austrian stamps, had them surcharged with the authentic "C.M.T." dies and took them to vienna for sale, together with all three handstamps. In order to prove the authenticity of these stamps beyond doubt and at the same time to make further surcharges impossible, they arranged to have all three dies officially destroyed and this was actually carried out in the presence of a notary Mr V, Dr R.W. and two representatives from one of the most reputable Viennese stamp firms. The notary confirmed the specific act of destruction of the dies.

It is true that such surcharges were performed with the authentic handstamps, but not under the orders of the relevant authorities and they were done at times when further production of the "C.M.T." occupation stamps was inadmissable. Hence, all surcharges, with the exception of the 13 officially used kinds noted above, should be regarded as speculative. I think that noone will be able to show that these further surcharges were actually found on covers which have been sent authentically and properly theough the mails.

it was therefore in this way that the above puzzle was finally cleared up