The great Nazi postage stamp conspiracy of World War II,
There was no question that Heinrich Himmler was the most disliked among his fellow comrades in the upper echelon of the Nazi party during World War II. A nutcase among nutcases, his colleagues often saw him as rude, arrogant, impatient, and untrustworthy. Even Adolf Hitler often dismissed his mystical occult and pseudo-religious beliefs in the Aryan race as nonsense. It was also common knowledge that Himmler was the most ambitious member of the party, and many believed that is was Himmler’s ultimate goal to hold the title of “Der Fuhrer”.
Between 1942 and 1943 British agents of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) devised a clever and subtle plot they believed would help undermine the German government. Taking advantage of Himmler’s ambitious nature and all around untrustworthiness, they devised a scheme to destabilize the Nazi party using, of all things, postage stamps. After recruiting a number of artists, engravers, and master forgers, the SOE designed and produced a number of counterfeit postage stamps featuring the face of Heinrich Himmler rather than that of Adolf Hitler. The stamps would be secretly placed into circulation within the German postal system with the belief that they would trigger suspicions of a coup headed by Himmler. The idea was that when people would see the stamps, they would assume that Himmler was making a move for power, and because of his impatience had accidentally ordered the issuance of the stamps too early.
Thousands of the fake stamps were produced and secretly smuggled into the German postal systems by SOE agents and German resistance operatives. The SOE waited for results, believing that their intricate plot would unleash a wave of unrest and infighting within the Nazi party. Unfortunately, nothing happened.
The only problem with the SOE’s subtle conspiracy was that it was too subtle, in fact is was so subtle that no one in Germany either noticed or cared. Most German citizens never even noticed that Hitler’s portrait on the stamp had been replaced with that of Himmler. Eventually the SOE actually resorted to having secret agents walk into post offices and stamp collecting shops to draw attention to the odd stamps. Rather than rouse suspicion, German citizens simply thought that the postal service had issued special stamps honoring Heinrich Himmler. Those who held leadership positions within the Nazi party were never roused with suspicion, as they too failed to see anything dastardly behind the Himmler stamps. In the end the great Himmler postage stamp conspiracy amounted to a total failure.
Today surviving copies of the the Heinrich Himmler stamp are highly sought by stamp collectors today, with some prints selling for $1,000 - $2,000 depending on condition.