Restrictive Measures of the Postal System in Gorlice 1941

By Elisabet Overman

Since the General Gouvernment established that individual Jews were not permitted contact with non-Jews or non-Jewish agencies and regulated communication in every way they could, mailing a letter was considerably strenuous as well as complicated for the Jews. For this reason, the Judenrat often assumed responsibility for the postal system in many towns even before the ghettos were walled off (holocaustjourney.com). They were under strict regulation and instructions coming from German authorities regarding mail receipt, distribution, and dispatch. The process of mailing a letter included the sender affixing a stamp in order to get picked up and then dropped off at the Judenrat building in small towns, or a designated Post Office building in the larger cities. Here, the mail was sorted and censored by the Jewish Council before it was brought to a building on the edge of a Jewish ghetto, which “acted as the drop-off and collection point between the Judenrat and Deutches Post Osten” (holocaustjourney.com). The distribution of incoming mail was also directed by the Judenrat Post Osten.  Additionally, the Judenrat were responsible for the cost of running the postal service, so this meant that for each letter or package there was an additional administrative fee associated with it’s sending.[1] According to Isaiah Trunk inJudenrat,Mail exchange between [Nazi occupied territory] and the outer world was often disrupted. … As a rule, mail was not delivered, or was greatly curtailed during ‘resettlement’ actions.”[2]

        Jews were only allowed to send letters within the General Gouvernment, to states under the control and political influence of the Reich, and to neutral countries. Letters had to be written in either Polish or German and were destroyed if they were not. In a stark effort to preserve the illusion of normalcy and kindness to inhabitants of Nazi occupied territory, postcards could only include personal details and any description of conditions within the territory as well as images would be omitted. “On November 21, 1941, the director of the general post office in Krakow ordered that, starting December 1, no parcels would be accepted from the Jews in the Government General, ostensibly for sanitary reasons.”[3] 

        As a result of the strict regulations placed on the postal service within Nazi occupied territory, a lot of the outgoing postcards were very similar in wording and described by many of the inhabitants as generic. After packages were banned altogether and restrictions became even stricter with time, many inhabitants of Nazi occupied territory found no sense in writing to their family or friends in different places.

Works Cited

Bergen, D. L., Browning, C. R., Engel, D., Fletcher, W. A., Hayes, P., Marrus, M. R., & Tec, N.                 (2009). Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945 (Vols. 1 – 2).

Flescher, M.D., Diana. “Tribute to My Mother.” Yad Vashem. 2010.


[1] Miron, Guy, and Michael Berenbaum. The Yad Vashem Encyclopedia of the Ghettos During the Holocaust. New York: NYU Fales Library, 2010.

[2] Trunk, Isiah.Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe Under Nazi Occupation. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972), 180

[3] Ibid.

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