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What Is a Nazi Pilot Doing on an Israeli Stamp?

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BerichtGeplaatst: 11 Mrt 2017 23:10    Onderwerp: What Is a Nazi Pilot Doing on an Israeli Stamp? Reageer met quote

The image of a Nazi air force officer wasn’t the only gaffe in a series of Israeli stamps marking a century since World War I.

The intentions were laudable: To mark 100 years to World War I (1914-1918), the nonprofit Society for the Heritage of World War I in Israel wished to commemorate the local role in the Great War.
What does Israel have to do with that war, you may ask? Quite a lot, it turns out. Australian cavalry, German pilots, Turkish trains and a single British officer, after whom a street that has seen better days was named in Tel Aviv — and who, along the way, freed us from the yoke of the Ottoman Empire. That would be General Edmund Allenby of course.
The Israel Philatelic Service happily took up the challenge and issued a series of stamps showing choice scenes from the war within our borders: Aerial combat, military railways, the battle for Be’er Sheva and a few forgotten anecdotes, which for many living in Israel today are considered, unfairly, to be prehistoric.
But sometimes good intentions are not enough . That is how one of the stamps in the series, the one that commemorates “Aerial Warfare” over the Holy Land, carries the image of a German pilot — who years later, during World War II, was a senior officer in the Luftwaffe, the Nazi air arm under the command of Hermann Goering.
The pilot, Franz Josef Walz, was known as the “Eagle of Jericho,” and had an impressive military career as a fighter pilot and ace here in Israel. He also befriended a number of Jews from Kibbutz Merhavia, and even appears in their photo albums. But later when the skies turned dark and the Nazis rose to power, he joined their air force and reached the rank of Generalleutnant, the second highest rank in the Luftwaffe. He died after the war ended in December 1945 in a Soviet prisoner of war camp in Breslau in Silesia (today Wroclaw in Poland).
Dr. Dov Gavish, a geographer who researches the first aerial photographs of Israel and its military history, exposed the identity of the pilot on the official Israeli stamp. He first published his findings on the wonderful Oneg Shabbat blog (in Hebrew) of history professor David Assaf of Tel Aviv University.
So how did (a future) Nazi general make it onto an Israeli stamp? Avi Navon of Kibbutz Lahav and the World War I Heritage Society was the person who initiated the stamp series. “I want to confess: I’m guilty of everything,” he wrote in humor on the Oneg Shabbat blog.
The graphic designer hired to design the stamps received pictures from a variety of sources from the Society and from archives in Israel and abroad. He used them to draw the figure that he thought best represented aerial warfare in that period in the Land of Israel.
As fate would have it, the picture that captured his imagination was that of Franz Walz. You can look at the stamp and pictures — and decide for yourselves. The cross, which appears in the original photo, was erased from the stamp version, of course, because it would not be appropriate for an Israeli stamp to bear such a symbol. In doing so he somewhat blurred the pilot’s German origin — not to mention his Nazi future.

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