German States stamps, issued by the individual Germanic Kingdoms, Duchies, and Free-Cities, began in 1849 when Bavaria issued its first stamp. Saxony followed in 1850. The subsequent postage stamp issuing states were Baden, Bergedorf, Braunschweig, Bremen, Hamburg, Hannover, Heligoland, Lübek, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Oldenburg, Prussia, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, and Württemberg.
A unified German finally came into realization in 1871, when the kings, princes, dukes, etc., of all the Germanic States gathered in the Hall of Mirrors, in Versailles, to proclaim the creation of the German Empire. King Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor. Bismarck, who had been Wilhelm's prime minister in Prussia, became the new Chancellor of the Empire. The first German Stamp of the Empire Era was issued in 1872.
The Third Reich, is the common name for Germany, under the leadership of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party, from 1933 to 1945. During this dark period in German History, leading up to and including the German defeat in WWII, the ill-fated twelve years of the “thousand-year Reich”, produced a considerable number of innovative and beautiful stamp designs, including a number of commemorative and semi-postal issues.
While technically under Allied Occupation Rule until The Federal Republic was founded on May 23, 1949 and was declared "fully sovereign" on May 5, 1955, German Post-War stamp production began with the issue of 1947-48. Stamps issued by 'West Germany' offer a style which is clearly identifiable as the issues.
West Berlin was an enclave created by the division of Germany following the Second World War. West Berlin comprised the Western section of Berlin, which was bordered by East Berlin and parts of the German Democratic Republic. While aligned with the German Republic, Berlin issued its own postage stamps, usually in the same design as the stamps of the German Republic.
The German Democratic Republic, Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or "DDR", was established as a socialist state in 1949 in the Soviet Zone of occupied Germany and in the Eastern zone of the Allied occupied capital city of Berlin. In its 41 years of existence, the German Democratic Republic issued over 3,400 postage stamps. In 1989 a popular uprising overthrew the Communist regime and the states of the German Democratic Republic were integrated as new states into the Federal Republic of Germany.