Rhine Navigation Stamps

(from the American Revenuer, October 1985)

by E. J. Enschedé

In 1941 the German occupation government in the Netherlands confiscated many of the small ships that navigated the Rhine River and various inland waterways. The plan was to repair and outfit them to make them seaworthy for an invasion of Great Britain. The plan was doomed from the outset as the ships were absolutely unseaworthy.

A decree for the restoration of Rhine and inland navigation fleet ships of March 6, 1941, (regulation sheet 60/1941) stated that the German government would pay the Dutch government for the purchase of the confiscated ships. The Dutch in turn were to use the money to repair the ships for the invasion. This made the Dutch government responsible for payment to the owners. The decree provided that arrangements for payment would be made at a later date, with interest. In most cases it was expected that the owners would not receive their own craft back after repairs but would get another which they would then own. The decree established a committee to repair the fleet. (This decree was temporarily postponed after liberation according to regulations of September 17, 1944, and finally were withdrawn by decree of June 27, 1947.)

A later decree of August 13, 1941, (regulation sheet 178/1941) referred to the provisions for payments that were to be arranged for at a later date by the regulations of March 6. According to an ordinance of the Secretary General of the Department of Waterways payments for ships were to be entered in a ledger at the Department of Finance (later called ledger R.B.). The entered sums were to receive interest at 4% annually. The Department of Waterways was to give financial assistance to the ship owners which was paid by the Dutch government. Other expenses were to be born by the owners of the ships which were to take on loads within the borders of the Netherlands.

In regulations from the Department of Waterways dated December 3,1 1941, (but apparently these regulations had gone into effect earlier) ship owners were to be compensated for the loss of their ships, by the government of the Netherlands at 10 cents per ton, per week, for the first 300 tons and at 4 cents per ton, per week, above 300 tons. This was to be paid every 4 weeks through the Netherlands Private Rhine Navigation Central for private owners and for larger companies through the Central Bureau for the Rhine and Inland Navigation. In order to offset the expenses of the financial assistance, the owners of ships with a loading capacity of more than 100 tons (no matter to which country the ship belonged) had to buy a Rykszegel or government stamp of 20 cents per ton loading capacity per year, to be paid in advance in quarterly terms starting on October 1, 1941. Loading capacity was defined as meaning the maximum loading capacity or, if not available, by estimate of the authorities.

The regulations went on to specify that all ships had to have at all times a form with date canceled Rykszegels to prove the payments had been made. Ships having loads from the Netherlands to a foreign country could not be allowed to pass the border without these forms. For Dutch registered ships this form was a numbered declaration by the CBRB or NPRC (Centraal Bureau voor de Rijn- en Binnenvaart and the Nederlandsche Particuliere Rijnvaart-Centrale). For foreign ships this was a form from the NPRC with a notation of the foreign freight. Other ships were required to stamp the documents issued for navigation inside the borders of the Netherlands. The Rijkszegels were available at all freight bureaus, most offices of the NPRC and offices of the Central Bureau for Rhine and Inland Navigation.

The stamps were issued in the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 cent, then 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, 30, 50, and 100 Gulden. Sixteen values in total.