Postal Censorship Cachets / Latvian Republic 1919-1921

(Nikolaj Jakimovs 1988 / completed by Juris Mors 2012)

 

It was in the middle of the war when the Republic of Latvia officially was established on 18 November 1918. German troops tried, under different pretences, not to leave the territory of the Latvian Republic, from the east came an invasion of the Red Army an there were other forces as the invasion of the Western Russian Army under Colonel Bermont in Courland.

 

Despite these conditions Latvian civilian post operations were continued wherever and whenever this was possible. To prevent the disclosure of military information by mail, the Supreme Command of the National Latvian Army (upon an order of the Ministry of Defence issued on 18 June 1919) assigned the communication services the task to organize postal war censorship.

 

On 21 July 1919 the Supreme Command announced that Jēkabs Kalniņš has been appointed as postal censor at the Rīga Main Post- and Telegraph Office.
Furthermore it was announced on 23 August 1919 that he also was appointed as censor at the Rīga Main Field Post Office.

 

In view of the fact that exchange of mail between Latvia and Western Europe was carried out via Liepāja and Jelgava, and mail with Estonia via Valmiera and Vecgulbene post offices, also censorship offices were established at these locations.

 

Based on the Imperial Russian provisional regulations of 20 July 1914 and 15 June 1915 concerning wartime censorship, by order of the Supreme Commander of the Latvian Army, they now were applicable for mail and telegrams within the whole of Latvia for censorship operations at the post and telegraph offices at Rīga, Jelgava, Liepāja, Valmiera and Vecgulbene.

 

It was anticipated that there would be 6 censors in Rīga (4 for telegrams and 2 for mail) but all other censorship offices would be hold by two censors. The chief of the censorship department of the Army Commander Headquarters was in charge of all censorship operations from the military viewpoint.

 

Prior to the initiation of this official war censorship already in July – August postal censorship was existing at the Liepāja post and telegraph office. Most likely it had been ordered by the Latvian Provisional Government for the purpose of keeping mail to and from abroad under control.

According to the large amount of work at the Rīga and Liepāja post and telegraph offices the Ministry of Communication and Labour allowed to raise the censor's amount with one unit.

Besides the existing official censorship locations as at above mentioned post and telegraph offices it is known that attempts were made censoring mail at other post offices as well as organizations. The postmasters at these post offices were reprimanded and ordered not to allow such activities.

 

After the Liberation of Latgale additional censorship offices were established on 22 June 1920 in Daugavpils and Rēzekne. Closer information about staff units at these offices isn't known.

 

By the order dated 1st April 1921 all censorship operations, until now effected by the post offices, were terminated.

According to the existing regulation all mail to and from abroad was subject to censorship, including printed matter from abroad. After having inspected an item of mail, the official censor was to mark it accordingly - by his initials and /or his number, placing the official location censorship mark.

Riga Post office - operations started 26.08.1919

Censor No. 1      Voldemars Kabbucis

 

Two different cachets exist

Censor No. 2      Alma Kirt

                           Jānis Braminis (from 01.11.1919)

 

Two different cachets exist

  Not only foreign mail was object to censorship. However, these are rare but censorship markings are seen on military free of charge mail (confirmed by a military cachet), as in this case "Kara zensors L No 2" of Riga on a postcard sent to Priekule from 12th Bauska Infantry Regimet, dated III / III 1920 at  Liepaja.

Riga Telegraph office - operations started 22.07.1919

 

Cenzor No. 3     Kārlis Kļaviņš

Cenzor No. 4     Pēteris Pauls

Cenzor No. 5     Jānis Bergmanis

Cenzor No. 6     Kārlis Vinters

Censor No. 3      Kārlis Kļaviņš

Cachet "Kara zensors L. No 3." (Kārlis Kļaviņš) of Riga Telegraph Office on military free of charge postcard, dated 31 / 1 1920, sent to Laukgali (Dundaga parish) via Liepaja. Weak army cachet of (Aisputes?) Infantry Regiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the cachet War Cenzor No. 4 (Pēteris Pauls) of the Riga Telegraph Office on a cut with the 2 Eleja local issue stamps cancelled with a provisional postmark ELEJA 24/10 19.

Valmiera (Wolmar) Post and Telegraph Office

- operations started on 26 August 1919

Censor No 7     Jūlijs Valdmanis (until 01.11.1919)

                      Jānis Krastiņš (from 01.11.1919)

 

Censor No 8     Teodors Olups

Gulbene (Alt-Schwanenburg) Post and Telegraph Office

- operations started on 25 August 1919

 

Censor No 9     Kornēlijs Augstkalns

 

Censor No 10    Helmuts Baltgalvis

Jelgava (Mitau) Post and Telegraph Office

- operations started on 1 September 1919

Censor No 11    Ģederts Vilsons

Registered letter sent from Jelgava to Czechoslovakia, cancelled JELGAWA a 13 12 19, censored by Censor No. 11. (Ģederts Vilsons). The total franking of 70 kap. was correct for a foreign registered letter.

Censor No 12    Hugo Koše

Registered letter sent from Jelgava to Germany, cancelled JELGAWA B 16 10 20, censored by Censor No. 12. (Hugo Koše). The total franking of 4 rub. was correct for a foreign registered letter.

Liepāja (Libau) Post and Telegraph Office

- operations started on 26 March 1919

In the beginning the censors at Liepaja Post and Telegraph office used a 2-line cachet in French + a sign of the censor. Different signs are seen as A.Sch (Agate Schidlovska), H.R (Helene Raman), E.Sch, E.S., A.R.

Agate Schidlovska and Helene Raman later became official censors No. 13 and Nr. 14.

Insured registered letter from Liepaja, cancelled LEEPAJA 26.7.19 and sent to U.S.A. Censored, confirmed with the 2-row cachet in French Censuré a Libau / Censeur + the sign of the censor "E Sch". On reverse side transit and arrival postmarks of New York (8 Aug) and San Francisco (24 Aug 1919)

Registered letter sent to Germany from Liepaja, cancelled LEEPAJA 14.8.19. Censored, confirmed by the 2-row cachet in French "Censuré a Libau / Censeur" + sign "F. C.". Also censored at Königsberg, confirmed by the boxed cachet "M.P.k." On reverse side arrival postmarking DORTMUND 19.8.19.

Censor No 13    Agate Schidlovska (until 29.09.1919)

                       Alfreds Bērziņš (from 29.09.1919)

Registered letter sent to Sweden, franked with a complete Riga Liberation set, cancelled with a German type of postmark LEEPAJA -2.9.19. and censored by censor No. 13. (Agate Schidlovska),   upon transit cancelled (on reverse side) STOCKHOLM 1  -5.9.19.  ANK.A

Censor No 14    Helene Raman (until 01.09.1919)

                       Fridrihs Jansons (from 01.09.1919)

Registered letter sent to Sweden, franked with a complete Riga Liberation set, cancelled with a German type of postmark LEEPAJA -2.9.19. and censored by censor No. 14. (Fridrihs Jansons),       upon transit cancelled (on reverse side) STOCKHOLM 1 -5.9.19. ANK.A

Censor no ??    Valters Lapiņš (from 03.09.1919)

Censor No 15    location and censor's name unknown

 

Besides the postcard below, "Kara zensors No 15." is seen on an envelope from Tukums sent to Krustpils, cancelled -9.02.1919. Perhaps the location of this censor was Liepaja.

"Provisional" postal stationery sent to Germany (where it was forwarded to another address) censored by "Kara zensors No 15." (over the text on reverse side). The location for this censor is unknown but most likely it is Liepaja due to the mailing direction (Germany) of this postcard. The card is dated 10 Oct. 1919 at Ikšķile (printed in Russian on reverse side). The franking of 10 kop. was 5 kop. to less so a postage due fee of 10 kop., double missing rate) was charged, indicated by the "T" and had written "10". The hand written "20" is most likely an extra postage due fee in Germany due to the forwarding of the postcard.

Rēzekne (Rositten) Post and Telegraph Office 

- operations started on 22 June 1920

 

No information available about used cachets or unit staff

Daugavpils Post and Telegraph Office

- operations started on 22 June 1920

 

No information available about unit staff

D. K. C.     Daugavpils Kara Cenzūra

Postcard sent from Daugavpils to Liepaja, franked with the 50 kop. stamp of the Latgale liberation issue and cancelled DAUGAWPILS  a  -3 7 20 but upon arrival LEEPAJA  -5 7 20. Censored at Daugavpils with the rare boxed cachet "D. K. C."

Other censorship markings

 

of unknown origin

Cachet seen on a letter to U.S.A

Cancelled RIGA  a  18 9 19

A group of boxed cachets "Z" + a number is seen

Until now known numbers is 2, 7, 12, 18 and 19

Most likely these are used at Riga

Boxed censor marking "Z 7" on letter to Germany, cancelled RIGA  b  -3 8 20

Boxed censor marking "Z 12" on letter to Riga, cancelled WALKA  C -4 3 21

Boxed censor marking "Z 18" on military free of charge mail letter sent to Riga, cancelled upon arrival (on reverse side) with the 1st Riga machine cancellation 19 - III - 21, on reverse als a military cachet of "2nd Wentspils Regiment / For dispatch".

Boxed cachet "Kara Zensure" (War censor) with hand written date 16/8 on military free of charge mail postcard from the 5th Company of 3rd Jelgava Infantry Regiment, located at Liepaja, cancelled LEEPAJA 17.8.19. Sent to Northern Latvia via Limbaži (Lemsal) where it was cancelled with a Russian postmark 21 8 19.   

Boxed cachet "Zemgales Divisijas KARA CENSORS" (Zemgale Division WAR CENSOR) without date or sign on military free of charge mail postcard sent to the Standing Army, 11th Dobele Infantry Regiment, 3rd Company 1st platoon. Cancelled LEEPAJA 1920 (unclear date).

Censored and returned letters in Hebrew language

 

During a short period in the mid of 1919 all domestic mail was censored by Latvian censors. Letters found to be written in Hebrew were according the regulations returned to the post office of origin to be returned to the sender.

 

Below shown is a registered letter sent from Riga to Philadelphia, USA, cancelled RIGA a, 11 7 19. The address on front side is crossed out and there is a hand written note "Retour". On reverse side there is a hand written note " Ebreju waloda kor. nav peelaista Zens. A. Sch" (Hebrew language corre(espondence) not permitted / Cens(or) A. Sch(idlowska). Agate Schidlowska as seen above was one of the censors at Liepaja Post and Telegraph Office.

Some few similar covers are seen, all sent abroad. Seen destination countries are except USA also South-Africa and England. The one sent to South-Africa is sent from Bauska 24 4 19 but all others are cancelled at Riga in July 1919. These covers are more described in an article by Ruud van Wijnen in the Philatelic magazine "LATVIAN COLLECTOR", No. 27, 1979.