1941 Mini WWII Archive of a Political POW – Sergeant Major Wege – Belgian Resistance Army During German Occupation

Kingdom of Belgium, 1922-1957. Archive of military service papers and identification cards of Sergeant Major René Jules Charles Wege of Liège, a Walloon Belgian who was held captive by the Germans as a political prisoner of war for 53 days in 1941. Comprises 7 printed military documents completed in manuscript, bearing stamps and signatures, and including 4 small portrait identification photographs. All documents are in French, a single exception being the POW recognition card which is in both French and Dutch. Documents range in size, the smallest card being a single leaf measuring approximately 8 x 10.5 cm, and his personal army booklet being 21 pages and measuring approximately 10 x 14.5 cm. Together with a manuscript copy of a sympathetic letter received from the wife of a deceased German soldier, written in English, during or following the Second World War.

Attached to the Belgian Army from the age of twenty-one, volunteering later in the Liberation Army to fight against the German occupation, then the Armed Resistance Forces, and being active in the clandestine sabotage efforts of the ‘Union Nationale de la résistance’, this gallant Sergeant was awarded the Resistance Army medal, and the Commemorative Medal of the 1940-1945 War (Médaille commémorative de la guerre 1940-1945).

This fascinating and informative lot of military documents belonging to a surviving World War II Political POW taken by the German Gestapo outlines his valorous service in the fight for his nation’s liberation. Further biographic research is warranted in terms of the Belgian Sergeant’s captivity, release, and unexpected benevolence towards a German officer.

Sergent Major René Jules Charles Wege, born 1901 in Liège, entered the Belgian Army 30 November 1922, serving for one year. He joined the volunteer forces 1 February 1936, serving until 26 December 1945, during which time, in April and May he was taken prisoner by the German Army. On 13 June, after a recovery period, he returned, and served until 31 March 1957. He received veteran’s military pension from April 1957.

In 1941 The German secret state police was targeting resistance groups in Belgium, infiltrating the resistance network with informants to betray participants and to examine resistance publications for intelligence. They took over the former Belgian army Fort Breendonk, near Mechelen, which was used for torture and interrogation of political prisoners and members of the resistance. Around 3,500 inmates passed through the camp at Breendonk where they were kept in extremely degrading conditions. Around 300 people were killed in the camp itself, with at least 98 of them dying from deprivation or torture. It is probably that Sergeant Wege was a victim of this prison camp, as it was situated only one hour from Liège.

The archive includes the following:

A Political Prisoner of War identification card [No. 162.052] issued to Wege by the ‘Ministère de la reconstruction’ in recognition of 53 days in captivity from 2 April to 29 May 1941. Complete with his photograph. Excerpts: “Carte de Prisonnier Politique 1940-1945: Wege, René J.C…. a été prisionnier politique ayant subi un captivité de 2 avril 41 au 29 mai 41, 53 jours…”

Three cards stamped and signed, issued to Wege pertaining to his membership in the clandestine Armée de la Libération [Belgian Liberation Army].

The Sergeant’s personal military book and his statement of services card detailing his assignments with the Belgian Army during the Second World War, each with an identification photograph. With the Resistance Army, from 10 May to 11 June 1940 Wege was with the 12 ième régiment de ligne (an infantry unit of the Belgian armed forces). In the spring of 1941 he was a captive in German hands. From 10 February 1943 to 14 October 1944 he was attached to the Résistant armé (Armed Resistance Forces). From 24 September 1944 to 17 December 1944 he was assigned to the Auditorat Militaire de Liège (Military auditors of Liege), and from 18 December 1944 to 8 May 1945 to the 1006 ième Compagnie des transports automobiles (a battalion designed to sabotage German transport lines).

A summary of his military service , dated 31 May 1966, issued at his request by the Ministry of Defence, signed and stamped

An uplifting note from a German widow, which reveals that in spite of his captivity and any ill-treatment at the hands of the Germans, Wege held no prejudice against the common folk. The note reads as follows,
“It is my heartfelt desire to thank you for your sympathy with my sorrow at the loss of my husband, The honour you did to him a German is proof to me that it only needs personal contact to establish relations of mutual esteem. This will be a ray of light in my dark hour. [signed] Mrs. Sophie Hahn”

The Belgian Resistance (Résistance belge, Belgisch verzet) refers to the resistance movements opposed to the German occupation of Belgium during World War II. Aside from sabotage of military infrastructure in the country and assassinations of collaborators, these groups also published large numbers of underground newspapers, gathered intelligence and maintained various escape networks that helped Allied airmen trapped behind enemy lines escape German-occupied Europe. The resistance included both men and women from both Walloon and Flemish parts of the country.

German forces invaded Belgium, which had been following a policy of neutrality, on 10 May 1940. After 18 days of fighting, Belgium surrendered on 28 May and was placed under German occupation. During the fighting, some 600,000 or more Belgian men (nearly 20% of the country’s entire male population) served in the military, many of whom were made prisoners of war and detained in camps in Germany, although some were released before the end of the war.

Many of the first members of the Belgian resistance were former soldiers, and in particular officers, who, on their return from prisoner of war camps, wished to continue the fight against the Germans out of patriotism. Most of the resistance was focused in the French-speaking areas of Belgium (Wallonia and the city of Brussels), although Flemish involvement in the resistance was also significant. Around 70% of underground newspapers were in French, and 60% of political prisoners were Walloons, as was Sergeant Wege.

In 1941 the Germans requisitioned the former Belgian army Fort Breendonk, near Mechelen, which was used for torture and interrogation of political prisoners and members of the resistance. Around 3,500 inmates passed through the camp at Breendonk where they were kept in extremely degrading conditions. Around 300 people were killed in the camp itself, with at least 98 of them dying from deprivation or torture.

L’Armée de la Libération était un mouvement de la résistance intérieure belge durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale né à la fin de l’année 1940 dans la mouvance des démocrates-chrétiens. L’armée belge de la Libération est fondée à Liège, par des militants qui en recrutèrent les membres au sein des mouvements de jeunesse et des syndicats démocrates-chrétiens. L’A.L. s’appuiera également sur un important contingent issu des forces de police ou de la gendarmerie. Ses membres s’occupent avec la presse clandestine: édition du journal La Vérité, le renseignement, rendre le secours aux réfractaires, aux clandestins, et aux populations juives, ainsi que le sabotage.

Liège is a major city and a municipality in of Belgium, located in the province of the same name, and is part of the Walloon region (mostly French-speaking). Walloons are a distinctive ethnic community of French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Important historical and anthropological criteria (religion, language, traditions, folklore) bind Walloons to the French people. More generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon Region. They speak regional languages such as Walloon (with Picard in the West and Lorrain in the South).

1855 German Manuscript Dedicated to Queen Marie – Kingdom of Hanover – ‘Voyage to California’

Hanover, 1855. 8vo. 32 page German manuscript, a poetic or theatrical composition dealing with California and dedicated to Queen Marie, Consort of King George V of Hanover, during the California Gold Rush. Dedication page, written in French, signed and dated by ‘Gontard’ who was an affluent art collector and chairman of an elite German art museum, and whom had evidently just met the Queen in person at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Exquisite red morocco binding by Hof-buchbinders Wilhelm Ermold (binder to the Royal Hanover Court), beautifully finished in gilt with a crowned monogram ‘M’ for Marie, royal blue cloth endpapers, satin bow dividers. Evidence of an imbedded gift-wrapping ribbon to boards, slight foxing to first few leafs, otherwise very good condition, internally clean and bright, a pleasing work in an elegant binding fit for royalty.

Title: Die Reise nach Californien. Nach dem französischen bearbeitet von Eduard Suhren. [A Voyage to California. From the French, edited by Edward Suhren.]

The ambiguously titled manuscript may be a German rendition of the French theatrical opera by Dondey Dupré titled “Le voyage en Californie ou notice explicative du panorama” which concerned travels across the United States and explorations in the West – by John Charles Fremont, first explorer to cross the Sierra Nevada in winter, foremost US Senator, abolitionist, who prospered during the California Gold Rush. Content includes the explorer’s sighting of pines in the Sierra Nevada oak forest at 3500 feet, melting gold, and so forth. Frémont’s father was a native of France, who died only eight years after the French Revolution. As such, his gallant endeavours and accomplishments in the New World would certainly garner much attention in France, as with other European nations with colonies abroad. The French opera was first publicly performed 8 August 1850 in Paris, at the Théâtre des Variétés. Gontard, who met the queen, and dedicates this manuscript to her, may have been involved in a German production, performed for the House of Hanover.

A full page dedication inscription, in French, is addressed to the Queen of Hanover, by Huguenot descendant Jakob Friedrich Moritz Gontard (1826-1886), chairman and administrator of the Städel art museum in Frankfurt, officially the Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie. Queen consort of Hanover from 1851 to 1878, née Princess Marie of Saxe-Altenburg, recipient of this dedicated manuscript, was the wife of King George V of Hanover, the last monarch of the short-lived Kingdom of Hanover. In his dedication, dated Hanover, 12 July 1855, Gontard thanks the monarch for having come to see his panorama at the International Exhibition held on the Champs-Elysées, stating that her visit inspired the work which forms the volume, and which he humbly offers to her. He references materials which were given to her onsite, which would elucidate the obscure details of the creative piece. The date indicates that King George V and Queen Marie of the short-lived Kingdom of Hanover attended the event in its first eight weeks. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom paid a visit to the Parisian Exhibition in August.

Unique manuscript volume, bound in the Royal Court of Hanover, written at the height of the California Gold Rush and featuring historic Americana content.

Princess Marie of Saxe-Altenburg, Queen of Hanover, (1818-1907) was the consort of George V, and Duchess of Cumberland and Tevoitdale. (Her full name is Alexandrine Marie Wilhelmine Katharine Charlotte Theresia Henriette Luise Pauline Elisabeth Friederike Georgine.) Her husband, King George, was expelled from his kingdom in 1866 as a result of his support for Austria in the Austro-Prussian War, and on 20 September 1866, the Kingdom was annexed by Prussia. Nevertheless, George never abdicated. He, Marie and their children lived in exile at Gmunden, in Austria, until George’s death in 1878. On 18 September 1872, Queen Marie was godmother to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein.

The Kingdom of Hanover (1814-1866) (Königreich Hannover) was established in October 1814 by the Congress of Vienna, with the restoration of George III to his Hanoverian territories after the Napoleonic era. It succeeded the former Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (known informally as the Electorate of Hanover), and joined with 38 other sovereign states in the German Confederation. The kingdom was ruled by the House of Hanover, in personal union with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until 1837, before being conquered by Prussia in 1866.

A grand International Exhibition was held on the Champs-Elysées in Paris from 15 May to 15 November, 1855, to show progress in agriculture, industry and art. Its full official title was the Exposition Universelle des produits de l’Agriculture, de l’Industrie et des Beaux-Arts de Paris 1855. Today the exposition’s sole physical remnant is the Théâtre du Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées designed by architect Gabriel Davioud, which originally housed the Panorama National. The exposition was a major event in France, then newly under the reign of Emperor Napoleon III. The industrial and art exhibits were considered superior to those of all previous international exhibitions. Napoleon hosted a grand dinner on 25 August 1855 in the Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, with Queen Victoria as the guest of honor.

The Gontard family were Huguenots who came to Frankfurt from Grenoble in 1685; many were were wine-merchants, and later bankers in Frankfurt. Jakob Friedrich Moritz Gontard (1826-1886), chairman and administrator of the Städel art museum in Frankfurt, officially the Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie. Gontard was also a private collector, and bequeathed approximately thirty paintings, mainly Dutch and Flemish Baroque works, among them the work of Adriaen Brouwers.

John Charles Frémont (1813-1890), sometimes called ‘Conqueror of California’ or ‘The Great Pathfinder’ was an American explorer, soldier and political leader, born in Savannah, Georgia, on the 21st of January 1813. His father, a native of France, died when the boy was in his sixth year, and his mother, a member of an aristocratic Virginia family, then removed to Charleston, South Carolina.


1899 Photographic Victorian Era Trade Card – Bombay Water Carrier – From Boehm World Voyage

Bombay: Wasserträger. Water carrier.

Bombay, circa 1899-1901. Original miniature gelatin silver print photographic trading card, numbered and captioned in both German and English, “Wasserträger / Water carrier.” Number 35 from a series titled, “Photographien aufgenommen and gesammelt von Gustav Boehm Offenbach a.M. gelegentlich seiner Reise um die Welt 1899-1901 / Views Taken and Collected by Gustav Boehm Offenbach a.M. During his Voyage Around the World, 1899-1901.” Produced in Germany circa 1901 and issued by his German Soap Company. Item measures approximately 6 x 8,5 cm, verso blank. Very good, original condition, a crisp image.

In 1855 Gustav Boehm of Offenbach am Main, founded the firm Gustav Boehm Toilettenseifen- und Parfümeriefabrik, which operated until 1929. This fine view was acquired on a world tour from 1899 to 1901, likely made by Gustav Boehm of Offenbach, Jr. (1855-1911), the founder’s eldest son and namesake, Gustav senior having passed away in Offenbach in November 1900.

Gustav Böhm (1827-1900), born in Offenbach am Main, was a manufacturer of perfume and toiletries establishing a large firm there. He also served as a politician (NLP), and a member of the second chamber of the estates of the Grand Duchy of Hesse and the Reichstag (parliament).

After a commercial apprenticeship and some trade, from 1848-1852 he lived in North America. Not finding his ventures as lucrative as desired, he returned to Germany and in 1855 founded a small soap factory, which grew rapidly and quickly became the “Gustav Boehm Toilettenseifen- and Parfumeriefabrik Offenbach”, and expanded into London in 1880. One of their very popular Eau De Cologne, sought after all over the world, was the Rhine Lavender.

Besides being a businessman Böhm was actively committed to the city and county governments, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hesse state parliament and the German Reichstag. From 1878-1888 he was a member of the second chamber of the estates of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, held a seat in parliament for the constituency of Hessen 5 (Offenbach, Dieburg). In the general election in 1890, he lost the constituency by 2000 votes to Carl Ulrich. In 1890 he held a position in the Offenbach Chamber of Commerce.

On November 6, 1900 Gustav Böhm died in Offenbach. His two sons Gustav Jr. and Theodor continued company operations. In 1929 it closed under bankruptcy.

1740 Kingdom of Prussia – Rare Tobacco Edicts

Collection of Eighteenth Century Tobacco Edicts
Kingdom of Prussia

Tobacco smoking under the reign of Prussian King Frederick William I (1713-1740) and Frederick the Great (1740-1786), the latter of whom dogmatically favoured snuff tobacco


Berlin, 1726-1770. Unusual Tobacciana Archive of Scarce and Significant Documents.  Seven separate edicts, from Berlin mid-1700s, are concerned primarily with despotism over manufacturing, selling, exporting, and even using tobacco at a personal level. Topics specifically address matters of potential fire induced by tobacco smoke, quality improvement, regulations and privileges for cigar makers, collection of duties on tobacco and transport, taxation of imported tobaccos, proper procedures for purchasing and selling which most often bereaves any small grower or entrpreneur from profit, and, finally, penalties for disobeying the laws. The earliest are printed by Christian Albrecht Gäbert, the others by Georg Jacob Decker. Folio. Double leafs, early handmade laid paper, untrimmed edges, several featuring woodcut engravings. Text is in German, ranging from 2-6pages of text, each document concluding with the woodcut initials ‘LS’ in cameo. Very good original condition, beautifully preserved.

The collection includes the following:

22 June 1726. 3 pages, issued by the March (Margraviate) of Brandenburg, a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire, prohibits tobacco smoking in the any wooded terrain, forests, and the like.

20 October 1742. 2 pages with a cherub and crown woodcut engraving, prohibits civilians from smoking on hay wagons, and from bringing cigars into a barn.

8 July 1744. 6 pages on 2 double leafs, with a cherub and crown woodcut engraving, issued by the March (Margraviate) of Brandenburg,concerning careless and dangerous tobacco smoking practices. The substantial edict reinstates or re-proclaims an edict of 28 April 1723, appears to present consequences for contravening the law, and mentions in the first paragraph Valangin in Neufchatel-en-Bray, Haute-Normandie, France. Annotations from 1746 to front.

3 May 1745. 3 3 pages with a cherub and crown woodcut engraving, issued by the March (Margraviate) of Brandenburg, being a declaration of general privileges for the tobacco spinner, also known as a cigar maker, which regulates the market, specifically preventing the sale of any tobacco which does not bear the official “duties paid” sticker, and also preventing the purchase of tobacco from directly from farmers.

4 September 1766. 2 pages with a lovely regal woodcut engraving, a declaration of the 15th article, which controls the rights for trade, preventing civilians to sell tobacco to anyone other the Prussian state government.

20 February 1768. 3 pages, outlines eight separate points, this edict addresses foreign shipment and trade, specifically naming Chur, Prussia, Pomerania, Magdeburg, Halberstadt, and Silesia, stating that all shipments must be appropriately recorded and also reported to the authorities.

1 August 1770. 6 pages on 2 double leafs, with three woodcut engravings, comprises nineteen matters on the subject of tobacco contravention, outlining penalties for the illegal possession or transgressional usage of tobacco on which duties have not been paid.

Snuff, a smokeless tobacco made from ground or pulverised tobacco leaves, originated in the Americas and was in common use in Europe by the 17th century. Snuff taking by the native peoples of Haiti was observed by a Spanish monk named Ramon Pane on Columbus’ second journey to the Americas from 1493 until 1496.

By the 17th century some prominent objectors to snuff taking arose. Pope Urban VIII threatened to excommunicate snuff takers. In Russia in 1643, Tsar Michael instituted the punishment of removing of the nose of those who used snuff. Despite this, use persisted elsewhere; King Louis XIII of France was a devout snuff taker, and by 1638, snuff use had been reported to be spreading in China.

By the 18th century, snuff had become the tobacco product of choice among the elite, prominent users including Napoleon, King George III’s wife Queen Charlotte, and Pope Benedict XIII. The taking of snuff helped to distinguish the elite members of society from the common populace, which generally smoked its tobacco. It was also during the 18th century that an English doctor, John Hill, warned of the overuse of snuff, causing vulnerability to nasal cancers. Snuff’s image as an aristocratic luxury attracted the first U.S. federal tax on tobacco, created in 1794.






1870 – Rare Original Photographs (Carte-de-Visite) – German Circus Couple

Two Original Photographs
German Circus Couple in a Matched Costume
Tightrope Walker and Acrobat
circa 1870’s

[Zirkus Akrobatik Paar in Leipzig]
Fotograf: Edmund Zwarg junior


Rare original CDV photos (carte-de-visite) of a circus couple (possibly George Loyal and Ella Zuila ) in a beautifully matched costume, taken in Leipzig, Germany, by a German photographer, Edmund Zwarg junior. From their consume one could suggest that this couple might have been tightrope walkers or acrobat performers.

Leipzig: Lurgensteinsgarten, circa 1870’s. Two rare original sepia CDV photographs, each measuring approximately 10.5 x 6.5 cm, mounted on photographer’s card. In very good condition.



1826 – Original ALS – Salmon Fisheries by Avid Angler Baron Vassall Holland

Original ALS on Salmon Fisheries
by Avid Angler Baron Vassall Holland of England


Holland House, London, 1826. Original Signed Letter by Lord Holland. 8vo. 4 pages on a double-leaf measuring approximately 11 x 17 cm. Very good condition.

An interesting letter between English upper class aristocrats, pertaining to the natural history of fresh water fish, and the sport of angling, with reference to reports by respected angler and author on the subject, Sir Humphrey Davy, as well as Lord Kinnaird of Scotland. The recipient is unidentified, but could be MP Thomas Creevey, or Samuel Rogers the famous author and banker, both of whom the Baron was frequently communicating with at the time. Dated, Holland House, 17 July 1826, and signed Vassall Holland, the letter was originally sent with two reports from the Select Committee on the Salmon Fisheries of the United Kingdom, published for the Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons, in 1825.

Excerpts from the letter:

“I send you the two reports on the Salmon fisheries printed by the House of Commons last year. You will I think find in them some curious facts relating to the habits of that fish but I believe some previous reports on the same subject contain yet more important particulars relating to their natural history, their rapid carriage & growth & extraordinary strength.”

“These reports are now difficult to obtain and the more so as I do not recollect the exact date of the inquiry. However I have taken steps to ascertain when they were printed & if printed to procure them.”

“Should I not be so fortunate as to get them, I should advise you to apply to Sir Humphrey Davy for the substance of them as he in his double capacity of natural philosopher & skillful angler…”

“Lady Holland has sent with the same parcel a very lively pamphlet written by Ld. Kinnaird on the political state of the Scotch Peers…”

End Excerpts.

Sir Humphrey Davy (1778-1829), English Baron, was highly respected for his study and skill as an angler. In 1828, two years later than this letter which refers to his expertise, the baron published a book on the subject, titled “Salmonia or Days of Fly Fishing.” Very well received, it was a few editions, and an American edition followed four years later. In it he compares the habits and physiological attributes of river and lake fish throughout Europe, including numerous rivers in England, the Danube, Glommen river in Norway, Lake Morat in Switzerland, the Rhine, and so forth. Naturally, the self-touted philosophical angler, also contemplates various fishing strategies.

Henry Richard Vassall-Fox, 3rd Baron Holland PC (1773-1840) was an English politician and a major figure in Whig politics in the early 19th century. A grandson of Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, and nephew of Charles James Fox, he served as Lord Privy Seal between 1806 and 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents headed by Lord Grenville and as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between 1830 and 1834 and again between 1835 and his death in 1840 in the Whig administrations of Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne.

Sir Humphrey Davy, 1st Baronet (1778-1829) was a British chemist, inventor, and angler for sport. A learned and accomplished man, he is best remembered for his discoveries of several alkali and alkaline earth metals, as well as contributions to the discoveries of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine. In 1815 he invented the Davy lamp, which allowed miners to work safely in the presence of flammable gases. In January 1819, Davy was awarded a baronetcy, at the time the highest honour ever conferred on a man of science in Britain. Davy wrote six scientific works, contributed papers to Rees’ Cyclopaedia relating to chemistry, as well as, in 1828, a substantial work on the habits of salmon and other fish, “Salmonia or Days of Fly Fishing.”






1943 – WWII Photograph – Winston Churchill at Alexandria Airfield

Original Winston Churchill Photograph
Alexandria Airfield


WWII Snapshot Photo of Churchill meeting Fleet Air Army officers
at HMS Glebe the Service base at Alexandria airfield in 1943

Photograph measures approximately 9 x 13 cm
Captioned in manuscript and mounted on cardstock
Very Good Condition

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, FRS (1874-1965) was a British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War (WWII). He is widely regarded as one of the great wartime leaders. He served as prime minister twice (1940-1945 and 1951-1955). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, writer, and an artist. To date, he is the only British prime minister to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the first person to be recognised as an honorary citizen of the United States.