Rear area postal service

It should be underlined here that private mail was forbidden to circulate in the staging area. German soldiers were strictly forbidden to correspond with civilians. Nor could they act as intermediaries to transport civilian mail.

The notion of “German interest” was used to determine whether postal traffic was authorised. The only mail that could circulate was:

- prisoner of war mail

- business and administrative mail

- civilian workers' mail

- certain family mail relating to “urgent” situations such as illness or death.

Rear area mail was examined by military postal control centres.

Changes in rear areas

In order to carry out a study of the German rear area postal service in the occupied territories, it is essential to know the occupation zones of each Army and the changes that took place during the 4 years of occupation.

Operations and postal rates

The German rear area postal service had its own way of working and its own rates.

Civilian workers' mail

The Germans set up a system of forced labour and incorporated the required workers into civilian labour battalions (Zivil Arbeiter Bataillonen or Z.A.B) created on 3 October 1916.

Prisoner of war mail

Prisoner of war mail was regulated by the two Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. Mail from and to prisoners of war was therefore postage free.

Bank mail

Bank activity was monitored by the Bank Control Offices (Bankaufsichtsstelle). One of these offices was set up in VALENCIENNES.

Mining companies' mail

VALENCIENNES was the headquarters of the Mining Administration (Bergverwaltung). Located at 104 rue de Famars, the Bergverwaltung supervised mining operations in the North of France (Nord and Pas-de-Calais).

Administrative examination

The German Civil Administration managed policing regulations and ensured that the population applied the decrees of the Lines of Communication Inspectorate. It supervised local police forces, communal authorities and public services in the occupied regions, and censored newspapers, books, theatres, and cinemas.

Mail from evacuees

In March 1915, the Germans demanded that the town halls in the district provide them with lists of people without resources or unable to work, so that they could be evacuated to France via Belgium and Switzerland. Throughout the war, several evacuation convoys were organised by the Germans with the assistance of the Red Cross.