Postage Stamps used in the German Marshall Islands
3 – German Postal Services on Nauru
by Dirk H.R. Spennemann


The Commencement of Postal Services

The development of the phosphate mines on Nauru and the forseeable increased mail volume, both commercial and private, meant that a proper post office would have be set up. Until that time the postal steamer Germania, calling at en route to and from Jaluit, picked up the mail.

Position of post master of the new post office on Nauru was to be handed to the local chief of police ('Polizeimeister'). For the additional duties he was to be compensated with RMk 300 per annum.[3]

The Reichs-Postamt sent the required items, such as stamps, cancels and office equipment in the assumption that all would go to plan. As it turned out, the Reichs-Postamt had assumed that the police chief would accept the additional duties without consultation, which he refused to do.[4] This caused some problems as the Reichs-Postamt was anxious to open a post office on Nauru given the fact that about 90 white settlers resided there, who, together with the business correspondence of the Pacific Phosphate Co. created a substantial volume of mail.[6] The Nauru station suggested to the Reichs-Postamt that the normal frequency of connections, using the mail steamer Germania, was inadequate and that steamers of the Pacific Phosphate Co. should also be authorised to carry mail.[7]

The first use of the Nauru Cancel occurred on 14 July 1908.[8] Before then occasionally handwritten 'Atollpost' were used from about 1902 onwards, and thereafter the formal Seepost cancels of the Jaluit Linie vessels Oceana and Germania.


Volume of Mail

The mail service statistics have been compiled from published and unpublished annual reports. The table below sets out the total letter volume handled by the Nauru post office. Detailed statistics of the total mail volume are provided on a separate page.

 Numbers of letters handled at the Jaluit Post Office

The end of the Nauru Post Office

When war was declared in Europe on 4 August 1914, Nauru with its wireless station had become a prime military target. The fact that the main commercial enterprise of Nauru, the phosphate mines operated by the Pacific Phosphate Company, was a joint German and Bristish holding added problems. A fair number of the employees were Australians, and thus British citizens. The German station chief ('Stationsleiter') Wostrack declared martial on law on 5 August 1914 and imposed censorship of incoming and outgoing mail. The Britsih employees were deported on 5 September. A day later the Australian cruiser H.M.A.S. Melbourne landed troops to decommission the wireless station but left after that. The German adminisration continued until 7 November when Australian forces landed and established a permanent occupation force. The last known legitimate use of the German date cancel was on 9 November 1914.[16]

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Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2002). Postage Stamps used in the German Marshall Islands. German Postal Services on Nauru
URL: http:/

Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

© Dirk H.R. Spennemann 2000
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