Soviet Censorship in Romania (1944-1946)

The ending of WWII brought the Soviet Army into the heart of Europe. Along with this conjuncture the autumn of 1944 saw Soviet garrisons established throughout Romania. This lasted until 1958. From a historical postal point of view the occupation was followed by Soviet censorship of both the internal and external mail. This censorship can be divided into at least three main areas as follows:

The Northern Transylvanian Civilian Censorship (Nov.1944 – March 1945)

The Northern Transylvanian territory occupied by the Hungarians between September 1940 –September / October 1944 (see also RPHB # 14) was liberated by the Soviet and Romanian armies between September 1, 1944 and October 25, 1944. As a result the Romanian administration returned. However this was short lived and in November of 1944 the whole territory was passed over to the Soviet Military command. However, there were many Romanian and Hungarian local administrations preserved. As a result the situation became somewhat chaotic and the well known local posts in this area came into being. Only on March 15, 1945 soon after the installation of a communist dominated government in Bucharest did the territory pass to the Romanian administration.

The transition period between November 1994 and March 1945 is characterized by the sporadic use of Soviet censorship postmarks on civilian mail. Up to now two types are known.

Bilingual type (Russian / Hungarian) – originally with an error to the first “B” (which is a “V” in Russian) which looks like a “P” (- “R”) which reads as PROVERENO TZENZUROY / ELLENÕRIZVE and not “PROVERENO…” (“Verified by censorship”). The present author has an item which is not illustrated here as it is in poor condition which proves that this mark was used as early as the autumn of 1944. The cover was sent from Balogfa (in the Vas district of Western Hungary) to the Baia Sprie/Felsõbánya area in the Satmar District, Northern Transylvania. It arrived in Satu Mare/Szátmarnémeti where it was canceled on October 17, 1944. Here it stayed because of the military situation. Satu Mare was liberated by the Soviet 133rd Infantry Division (from the Soviet 40th Army) a week later on the night of October 24/25 1944. The cover was now put back in the mails and censored with the above bilingual mark. There is no arrival postmark but one can make the assumption that the mark was used in November of 1944.

Soviet Bilingual Postmark
Soviet Bilingual Postmark

This is a registered cover, franked 75 Lei and sent from Târgu Mures on Feb. 9, 1945 (canceled twice with the local bilingual (Hungarian / Romanian) provisional cancel reading “MAROSVÁSÁRHELY I / TG-MURES 1”), addressed to Nagynyires / Miresul Mare in the Satmar District. The arrival cancel is Nagysomkút (Somcuta Mare) dated March 10, 1945 (one month later). The censoring with the red bilingual postmark was presumably added in the arrival area. The location of this censor office could be Satu Mare/Szatmárnémeti, but then again it could be at another place out of Northern Transylvania, in the Hungarian territory.

In the article “Hungarian Censor Markings used in late 1944 and 1945,” written by István Gazda and Elaine Arundel, and published in “Stamps of Hungary” No. 116, March 1994, similar postmarks, but in two dimensions, are described as follows:

One measuring 69 x 1 4mm in Szombathely (used between June 6 and October 1,1945) the other of 72 x14 mm in Nyiregyhaza (used between June 28 – Dec. 4, 1945). These could have been the old “Northern Transylvanian” censoring marks that were then re-used by the Soviet censoring authorities. It is fairly definite that these marks were not used after March 15, 1945 on Transylvanian mail.

The other is a trilingual type (Russian / Hungarian / Romanian) with the same mistake to the first “B” as in Fig. 1. This was seen only on local philatelic covers (CTO) franked with the 2nd Oradea / Nagyvárad local issue from the beginning of March 1945 (March 7). So if this mark was used on regular mail it had to be in Oradea.

Internal Telegram Censorship (March 1945 – January 1944)

PROSMOTRENO / Voennoi tzenzuroi /..A special case is the censoring of telegrams by the Soviet Military emanating from Units in the Romanian Military Garrisons. The censoring was obviously done on receipt making it easy to place the location of the censoring office that applied the mark. Soviet Military Censor Marking (10 KB)The usual soviet military censorship marks were used with the text “PROSMOTRENO / Voennoi tzenzuroi /…” followed by a 5 digit number (“EXAMINED / By the military censorship”).

By examining a great number of telegrams received at one location the author has come to the conclusion that the Soviet censorship was not in operation through to the end of February 1945. Censored telegrams are seen beginning in March 1945 (the earliest date seen so far is March 6, 1945 in Craiova, censor number 18920).

Censored Telegram
Telegram received in Cluj in August 1945 from Hateg, double censored, by the Soviets with the mark No. 27011 plus the Romanian censor mark of “Cenzurat Cluj” No.6. One can speculate that in Cluj there were two Soviet military censorship offices (units) with Nos. 17429 and 27011, or, much more likely, the units were changed after time with one being sent, for example, to the front

The end of this censorship is surely the same as for the internal and external postal censorship end, namely January 15, 1946 (the latest date seen is January 2, 1946 in Cluj, military censor No.17429).

In Northern Transylvania (Cluj), the telegrams are double censored; once by the Russians and then by the Romanian internal censors (Fig. 6 & 7). This did not happen in the rest of the country. The following are the censoring numbers seen so far:

14690 – Timisoara (Fig. 4 & 5)
17429 – Cluj (Fig. 6)
18920 – Craiova
27002 – Râmnicu – Sãrat
27011 – Cluj (Fig. 7)
27336 – Bucuresti (from Telegut-Thielk catalogue, 1995)
27914 – Râmnicu Sãrat

One can see similar censor markings on telegrams from Romania to the Romanian troops on the front lines. An example was illustrated by Mr. Adrian Matache in “Buletinul CSD” No.8/1995, Bucharest. This was a telegram received from Bucharest at OPM 76 (which was the 7th Army Corps HQ, probably in Rohatec , in Czechoslovakia at that time). It is cancelled with the OPM 76 mark on April 17, 1945 and censored with a soviet military postmark (No. 27544). It is a unique case when the mail of one army (Romanian) is censored by one of its allies (the Soviet Army). This led to Mr. Matache’s conclusion that the Romanian Army was in fact an ‘occupied army’.

External Mail Censorship (February 1945 – Januarv 1946)

Soviet External Censor Marking (5 KB)

Soviet External Censor MarkingThe beginning of Soviet censorship for Romanian external mail is usually considered to have started in September of 1944 (See also RPHB No.8 & 9). The Soviet censorship office was located in Bucharest and used round postmarks (Fig. 8) measuring 34-35/23 mm in diameter, with the text “VOENNAIA TZENZURA / SSSR /../ R” (Military Censorship/USSR /”) followed by a number between 1 & at least 65 and the letter “R” {presumably from Romania).

The present author has found that the earliest date of usage to be February 6, 1945 on a letter coming from Turkey (Fig. 9). An earlier date could be that of the cover in RPHB No.7, page 7) at some time between January 15 and February 8, 1945. However, the postmark dated January 15 is too unclear to draw a definite conclusion.

Registered cover from Turkey (Istanbul Jan.23 1945) which arrived in Bucharest on February 6, 1945. It was censored by the Soviets (No. 7) and the Romanians (Cenzurat 10, censor no.4) and delivered in Timisoara on Feb.11, 1945
Registered cover from Turkey (Istanbul Jan.23 1945) which arrived in Bucharest on February 6, 1945. It was censored by the Soviets (No. 7) and the Romanians (Cenzurat 10, censor no.4) and delivered in Timisoara on Feb.11, 1945

See other examples:

POW2

POWGB

POWW2

Another piece of mail originating from Turkey and arriving in Bucharest in November of 1944 is censored only by the Romanian external censors without any sign of a Soviet mark. Thus we can suppose that the Soviet foreign censorship in Bucharest started probably between December 1944 and January 1945.

Foreign mail for these months is scarce, first because most of the Romanian external mail postal links were still discontinued (they resumed in general, in the summer of 1945). Thus early items (September 1944 – April 1945) are known only from countries like Turkey, Sweden etc. who maintained postal relations with Romania.

In Fig. 10 one can see a late date (maybe even the last date) of Soviet censorship (it is worth noting that the Romanian censorship appears to have already been discontinued!). Theoretically both Romanian and Soviet censorship was discontinued on January 15, 1946.

The Romanian external censorship office would censor the mail after the Russians on incoming mail and before them on outgoing mail using a hand censor marking; usually No. 10 and less frequently No.2.

Initially published in ‘Romanian Postal History Bulletin’, No. 22, April 1997; a German version was published in ‘AGZ Rundbrief’ No. 89 / 1998

Author: Grecu Dan-Simion