During troubled periods, or when a country is ruled by a dictator, the authorities try to control postal communications.
From the 16th to the 19th century, there were generally no marking
on the letter itself. However, from the beginning of the 20th
century, censor marks appeared on the mail (Boer War, first
During WWII, belligerent and even neutral nations screened
the content of outgoing, incoming and
in-transit letters and postcards.
Depending on the country or the period, mail censorship was
carried out by civil or military authorites.
This large scale practice is legal (there were official
announcement to the public), and controlled mail bears various
The censorship marking :
- Censor office marks.
It is generaly coded (for example, in France "LLY"
mark means the letter has been opened in Lille; in Reich occupied
means it has been opened in Oslo and "k"
in Kopenhagen; in India, "DHC"
means it has been opened in Bombay). Sometimes, the name of
the city is clearly indicated "Kampala".
- Letters, opened either by the means of vapor or
a letter opener, are generally closed with a resealing
label. It can be neutral ou printed.
The same letter can be screened twice or three times
in different countries.
3 examples :
- letter from Cuba to England
- letter from Algeria (after landing of the Allied armies) to Switzerland
- letter from Argentina to the Reich
Authorities can decide to make disappear some words or not to transmit a letter for
various raisons :
- postal relations suspended
- message too long , or violating the censorship rules.