Censored and Military Postal History

World War I - Civil Censorship - Finland - Part I - Part II

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After the Swedish-Russian War of 1808-9 all of Finland became a Grand Duchy under the Tzar of Russia and in 1812 its postal service was arranged along Russian lines and foreign mail was routed via St. Petersburg. Finland retained its autonomous constitution but under Russian influence.

During World War I Finland supported Russia until the Bolshevik Revolution threatened in 1917, On 20 July 1917 Finland declared its independence from Russia and this was confirmed by parliament on 6 December .

Russian influence on censorship in Finland is manifested by the predominance of the Russian language in most censor handstamps and labels for the period. Censorship began in August 1914 and was performed on domestic mail until March 1917 and on foreign mail until January 1918. With very few exceptions foreign mail was all censored in Helsinki or Tornio. Mail were censored in the arriving district - in the later period double censorship is often seen.


Censorship was carried out in the following cities (names in Swedish / Finnish):

Helsingfors / Helsinki
Torneo / Tornio
Nikolaistad / Nikolainkaupunki (Waasa)
Bjørneborg / Pori
Tammerfors / Tampere
Åbo / Turku
Raumo / Rauma
Uleåborg / Oulu
Viborg / Viipuri

On the following two pages you will see examples of several covers with the handstamps that were used.
Censor markings from more offices are shown in part II.


A separate page shows some examples of different censor labels used in the different colours: White, Gray/ White, Blue, Green, Yellow and Brown. Labels were used at all 10 censor offices without the censor office name. Later the two large towns of Helsinki and Tornio as well as Kuopio used labels that included the town name.

1917 Helsinki censorship

Helsinki Office

Postcard from Wilno to Helsinki 1 II 1917 with blue Russian Fieldpost - mark FROM ACTIVE ARMY.

Red oval dated Helsinki censormark - used in several places.

Helsinki Office

1916 Helsinki censorship

1915 Torino censorship

Torino Office

Postcard from Peking (Russian Post Office in China) dated 5 IX 1915 with overprint 'CHINA' on Russian adhesive.

Sent to Copenhagen, with transit postmark of Petrograd: 20 IX 1915.

Torneå purple oval censorship-mark.

Wiborg Office

Two-line censorstamp of censor 26 used in Viborg on a card from Finland to Russia.

A similar type of censor handstamp is used at most offices - a red datestamp has been used above the censor marking, but more usually the date is in manuscript.

Wiborg censorship

1916 Tempere censorship

Tampere Office

Parcel postcard from Tammerfors 18 III 1916 to Messukula. Posted 20 III 1916.
Double circle Tammerfors censorship marking in purple ink.

1916 Huopio censorship

Kuopio Office

10p postal stationery postcard sent from Oulu 13 III 16 to Mikkeli .

Kuopio purple double circle censorship marking.

Thanks to Jon Iversen for generously sharing these fine illustrations with us. Visit his Finnish philatelic web site.

Updated: 8 March 2010
Copyright © 2001-2010 Karl Winkelmann