Censored and Military Postal History

World War II - German Censorship

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Monitoring for foreign exchange violations actually already existed prior to hostilities because of the Foreign Exchange Regulations of 1932-1933. However in general these inspections were only for contraband and were not supposed to be concerned with the written contents. True mail censorship started with the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939.

The German mobilisation plans only called for the inspection of private letters and telegrams at a central location: the Auslandsbrief- and Telegramprüfstelle (Foreign Letter and Telegram Examining Station) in Berlin. The exception was that for East Prussia the inspection was done at Königsberg. At the outbreak of the war the centralised approach was found to be inadequate and offices were established throughout Germany and eventually throughout the occupied territories. These offices initially reported to the Chief of Military Intelligence (Abwehr) under the Military High Command (OKW). After a power struggle between the SS and the Wehrmacht (Armed Forces) the offices were transferred in 1944 to the direction of the Reichsführer of the SS under the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) or Reich Main Security Office.

Listing of German Censor Office (Prüfstellen) letter codes (Kennbuchstaben).

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Berlin Office (B)

Transit handstamp

Airmail postal stationery postcard with extra adhesive from BONN to Ireland with German purple circular censor handstamp 'Ab' of Berlin.

Additional censorship in Great Britain with lozenge 'CROWN / PASSED / P. 212' and Irish bilingual long boxed censor handstamp 'RELEASED BY CENSOR'.

Dated 22 Jan 1944.

Köln (Cologne) Office (C)

Geöffnet label

Quadruple censorship on underpaid returned cover from Sligo, Ireland to Aix-de-Chapelle, Germany.

This dark-brown censor label used from August 1940 - Spring 1941. Cologne letter code on reverse of censor label.

Two Irish censors; one each outgoing and incomimg, British label on right edge under incoming Irish label. Several returned marks: REBUTS, Retour, RTS, etc.

Dated 9 October 1940.

München / Munich
Office (D)

Geöffnet label

Airmail cover from Innsbruck in Occupied Austria to Dublin, Ireland.

Munich censor label with 'D' tied by purple handstamp with additional censor number stamps.

Additional British censor label covered by pink Irish censor label.

Dated 27 April 1942

Frankfurt Office (E)

Geöffnet label

Reverse of well travelled airmail cover from California to Rotterdam.

Transit German censorship using censor label and handstamp of Frankfurt.

Several manuscript and stamped redirection instructions on cover.

Frankfurt Office (E)

Obverse of above Frankfurt censored cover.

Redirected and returned airmail cover with Retour and Inconnu markings.

Wien / Vienna Office (G)

Geöffnet label

Greek bank cover from IRACLION to LEIPZIG resealed in Vienna by the 'Geöffnet' censor label with letter code 'g'.

Bilingual Greek currency control label (Greek language on reverse) and handstamps were applied before leaving Greece.

Dated 11 Apr 1940.

Wien / Vienna Office (G)

Machine censor mark

Bohemia & Moravia postal stationery postcard posted in Prague with additional adhesives to make up 1.50 Kcs foreign surface postcard rate to Sofia, Bulgaria, with red transit censor machine marking used in Vienna.

Censor mark has a Nazi 'Adler' eagle surrounded by the words 'Oberkommando der Wehrmacht • Geprüft. In use October 1940 - October 1944 but mainly used in 1942. The German censor mark does not include the letter code 'g' of Vienna.

Dated: 'PRAG 85 / 26 Nov 1942 / PRAHA 85'.

Königsberg Office (A)

OKW transit handstamp

Straight-line 'Von der Wehrmacht zugelassen' and purple circular 'Auslandsbriefprüfstelle/Königsberg (Pr)' handstamps on cover from DANZIG to USA.


Plain brown label with handstamp 'Im Staatsinteresse geöffnet' means 'Opened due to State interests' on reverse with additional 'Auslandsbriefprüfstelle / Königsberg (Pr)' handstamp.


Anonymous, German Censorship. San Juan, San Juan Postal Censorship Station, circa 1944.

Houston, Bob, Mail Surveillance under the Third Reich. Third Reich Study Group of Germany Phil. Soc., Undated.

Meschenmoser, Alfred, Überoller-post 1945-1949 vom "Dritten Reich" in das "Nachkrieges-Deutschland". Düsseldorf, Heft 104 Neue Schriftenreihe Poststempelgilde "Rhein Donau", 1984.

Riemer, Karl Heinz, Die Überwachung des Auslandesbriefvekehrs während des II. Weltkrieges durch deutsche Dienstellen. Düsseldorf, Heft 88 Neue Schriftenreihe Poststempelgilde "Rhein Donau", 1979.

_______________, Devisenkontrolle im Auslandsbrief-und Paketverkehr im Deutschen Reich 1933-1939. Düsseldorf, Heft 93 Neue Schriftenreihe Poststempelgilde "Rhein Donau", 1983.

Wolter, Karl Kurt, Die Postzensur Handbuch und Katalog Band II. München, Georg Amm, 1966.

General Bibliography

Rundbriefe Arbeits Gemeinschaft Zensurpost

Bulletins of Third Reich Study Group of Germany Philatelic Society

National Archives, Record Group 216, Office of Censorship

National Archives, Record Group 331, SHAEF G2

Updated: 30 July 2003
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Images contributed by Myron Fox and Karl Winkelmann