Rates and Operations: 1945 onwards

Rates and Ops: index 1875 to 30.9.1916 1.10.1916 to 3.4.1938 4.4.1938 to 1945 Back to main narrative


At the end of the war

From 1943, as the official history of the City of Vienna reminds us, Vienna suffered repeated Allied bombing, and when Vienna fell to the Russians on 13th April 1945 fighting was going on in the very heart of the city. Within days of the end of the fighting, in April 1945, a provisional city government was constituted. The situation was far from encouraging: in the urban area, more than 3,000 bomb craters were counted, many bridges were in shambles, sewers, gas and water pipes had suffered severe damage. See the map on pp 538-9 of "The Book of Austria" by Marboe. The immediate post-war imperative was to get the city back into some degree of working order.

The political context was no less complicated, the Allied Occupation Forces often withholding approval for necessary work "just because they could". There was no pneumatic service in 1945 between early April and 23 July. Although the postal system re-opened progressively from May 2nd 1945 with the introduction of the overprinted stamps and the opening of a number of Post Offices, the pneumatic pipe-work under the streets had been disrupted by the bombing. A skeletal pneumatic service began on 23 July 1945, and further sections were progressively added. Turnerís book documents the organisation which carried out the repairs, and gives the number of the 42 sections functioning at various dates. He was proud of what his staff had accomplished!

Censorship after the war

See "Censorship of Civil Mails in Occupied Austria 1945-53", Revised edition with supplements, Krueger 2002. The next paragraph is mainly based on extracts.

From about 20th March 1946, domestic mail originating in Vienna was censored. The censorship facility was at Wien 1 and was an "Allied" facility, jointly staffed and operated by all four of the Occupying Powers; however, it applied the rules and procedures implemented by the Soviet authorities in their surrounding Occupation Zone. Domestic mail censorship in the Soviet Zone (excluding Vienna) began in the greater Vienna area on 25 March 1946 and was carried out at Wien 76 (Südbahnhof). Later, other facilities were opened, closing at the end of domestic mail censorship on 7 October 1946. Occasional covers cancelled from outside Vienna have Viennese censorship, and occasional covers cancelled from inside Vienna have Soviet Zone censor markings.

An extremely small number of Viennese covers exist with green Soviet Zone censorship cancels; all those of which we are aware were transported pneumatically. We have coloured photocopies of two. This is discussed and illustrated in this section: Green Post-WWII Censor Cancels

Austrian mail to & from Germany and Japan.

Ordinary letters up to 20 grams and plain postcards were permitted from Austria to Germany from 17 April 1946; heavier letters from 26 June; registration from 1 August; picture postcards from 1 August. See Heinzel pp 10-11.

Letter mail to Austria from Germany began on 1 April 1946, according to both Michelís German Tariff book and Heinzel. Registration was allowed in internal German mail from 1 January 1948 but any registered items sent to Austria were rejected by the Austrian censors up to the end of July 1948.

Mail from Austria to Japan began on 15 October 1948 according to Michel Austria Specialised. The restoration date for mail from Japan is unknown to us.

Air mail in the 1945-1956 period

During the war Aspern remained the Viennese traffic and post airport, until in April 1945 the Soviet army took it over and made it their military base for the next ten years. Aspern was in the Soviet zone and inaccessible to the western allies, who wanted to fly in and out without their couriers being stopped by the Soviets. So in 1945 the Americans laid out an airfield along the Danube canal and near the Karl-Marx-Hof, while the British arranged theirs in their own sector on Schönbrunner Schlossestraße beside the Vienna river. Later the British and French took over Schwechat as their airport, the Americans Langenlebarn at Tulln where on 16 June 1946, PANAM landed the first post-war civilian flight. Until the State Treaty, civilian air traffic used the former military airfields Schwechat-Heidefeld, Vöslau-Kottingbrunn and Tulln-Langenlebarn. Aspern as the Soviet military airfield was completely ruled out.

On 25 March 1946, outgoing air mail from Vienna was authorized. Some airmail was sent TO Austria before that, eg military flights from London began on 2 Jan 1946. Mostly the airmail indication was crossed out and it went by sea or sea+land mail. In a few cases, it went by air to Switzerland, and was then sent by surface to Austria: those are much in demand.

By 1946 the pneumatic post system had been repaired, so air mail was sent along with express letters to the Air Mail Supervisory Office, which Kainbacher locates at Wien 1. Kainbacher (IV 1 24) prints an official notice from 1 Mar 1946 which says basically "If itís airmail, and if the Rohrpost is working, and if it fits, send it thus." It was to be marked FLUGPOST in red crayon, and/or with an air mail label if the office of posting had any.

The mail was censored (at Wien 1, but maybe at Wien 76 (Südbahnhof) instead if it was from a Soviet bit of Vienna); then sent (probably via Wien 101 ie Westbahnhof) to the airfield which was probably Schwechat or Langenlebarn. As air mail was authorised on 25 March 1946 but the first PANAM flight was 16 June, early civil airmail must have been flown on military flights. Most mail went via London; some via Paris; later some via New York.

Postal Rates

Until 21 December 1945, in Vienna (and in the Russian Zone) the currency remained RM/Rpf and was expressed thus. However the RM-Schilling exchange was set at 1:1 so the numbers are the same [and "Rpf/G" doesn't fit well in the table so weíve used G!]. See separate section on the currencies used between 1938 & 1945.

We adopt Heinzel [Ref. 7] page 142-143 as authoritative. The pneumatic surcharge remained at 10Rpf as the system was re-established. A change was however made: under the German regulations the pneumatic fee was additional to the Express fee; but in post-war Austria it was included in it. Express letters and cards were transported via Rohrpost when it seemed sensible (to the post office). The pneumatic fee was to be paid only in the case of purely pneumatic letters; most items where it was paid were being sent to a railway station for onward transmission. However, in 1945 and occasionally in 1946 people sometimes followed the previous system and paid both express and pneumatic fees for express mail.

Thus, in early 1946 (ie before censorship) a resident of Vienna with a small but urgent item could in addition to the normal postage:

(These scenarios assume that the required pneumatic route was in working order!)



Registered Post

The table of registration rates for the relevant period is reproduced below. Note that these are surcharges, payable as well as the normal postage (and as well as any pneumatic & express surcharges) on the item. The currency abbreviations used are: G=Groschen; S=Schilling; Rpf=Reichspfennig.

2.7.194530RpfsuspendedService in Vienna and Lower Austria only;
later in other parts.
26.6.194630G100G[Michel's 30Gr foreign rate is wrong]


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18 Dec 1945 23 Aug 1946 22 Nov 1946 24 Mar 1947 16 Aug 1947
1 Oct 1947 23 Jan 1952 1 July 1953 2 Dec 1955  

Rates and Ops: index 1875 to 30.9.1916 1.10.1916 to 3.4.1938 4.4.1938 to 1945 Back to main narrative