return to sender

Jesse Marinoff Reyes ( Jesse Marinoff Reyes Design, Maplewood, N.J.)

On April 20, 1889, Adolf Hitler was born.

---I figure I'll be the ass and remind everyone of a darker presence—and an example of graphic design, albeit small, that was used to sell a different sort of "identity."---

It was also the last day Hitler would appear outside of his bunker in Berlin—he would be dead 10 days later—in 1945. I ran into this envelope, standard issue mail from 1937 (seems to be business correspondence, “Drucksache” meaning business mail and the to-and-from printing seem to be from a desktop stamper or printer of some sort), in a flea market about 18-20 years ago. Stopped me in my tracks. The power of the image, the seeming malevolence of the stamp portrait, the cancellation stamp—and its design as well, German War Eagle and Swastika, perfectly positioned—literally gave me a chill down my spine.

Looking at the stamping, I mean, you really couldn’t place it in a better spot, even how the weight of its pressing lightens as it crosses over the visage of der Fuhrer. Hitler and the Nazis were masters of corporate identity, with every detail from the largest banner down to the smallest stamp taken into consideration. It was a national identity campaign, and nothing since compares to it. Then to top it off, the location noted on both stamp and stamping, Nurnberg, or Nurenberg, site of the epic rallies held by the party from 1927-1938 (see Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will) obviously being commemorated by the stamp and later, the location of the war crimes trials held to prosecute Hitler’s lieutenants.

I feel the weight of history on a flimsy piece of paper held in my own hands.

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