Deutsche Post Essay

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The  German   postal   company   that   now  is  also involved in logistics and courier services, Deutsche Post AG was refounded  in 1995, taking over from a company of the same name that had a mail monopoly in Germany. Although the word Reichspost was used by Franz von Taxis as early as 1495, the German postal service in its current  form was the Deutsche Reichspost, which was established in 1871 with the unification of Germany, and operated  until the end of World War II.

Initially after the war, the various Allied-controlled postal  authorities  issued their  own postage  stamps and ran their own services. Subsequently four entities took over, the major ones being the Deutsche Bundespost (German  Federal Post Office) that  operated  in West Germany and the Deutsche  Post DDR in East Germany.  Because of its different  status,  there  was also a Deutsche  Bundespost  Berlin for West Berlin, and a separate postal authority for the Saar until 1956. In 1990 the Deutsche  Bundespost  took over having a monopoly  on  postal  services until  1995 when  it became Deutsche Post AG.

Prior to 1871, the various states in Germany operated  their  own  postal  services, with  the  people  in Prussia and nearby places using those of the North German  Confederation.  King Wilhelm  I of Prussia had, on January 18, 1871, been proclaimed  emperor of Germany, and he started unifying the various agencies of the German states. The first German Imperial Parliament  met in March 1871, and on May 4, 1871, the  German  Reichspost  officially came  into  being. Wurttemberg was allowed to use its own stamps for a period, with stamps for official state business until 1923; and Bavaria was also allowed to issue its own postage stamps until 1920.

To show the unity of Germany,  the first postage stamps issued by the Reichspost in 1872, “inscribed Deutsche  Reichspost,” had  the  Imperial  Eagle, and ranged  in value from  ¼ Groschen  to  18 Kreuzers. Demand  was such that  some were reprinted  by the Prussian  State Printing  Office in July 1872. In 1875 the  old  currency  was  replaced  by  the  Pfennings and the Marks, and new stamps  were issued. From 1900, stamps  started  showing “Germania,” a figure embodying  the  German  spirit.  In  that  year  some larger  stamps  were  also issued  by the  post  office, featuring the General Post Office in Berlin, the unveiling of the Kaiser Wilhelm I Memorial in Berlin, and Wilhelm II speaking at the 25th anniversary of the founding of Germany in 1896.

In 1902 the  stamps  were designated  “Deutsches Reich” and this continued  until 1944, when a stamp showing Hitler had the caption “Gross Deutsches Reich.”  From  1945,  the  Allied  occupying  powers issued their  own stamps  with “Deutsche  Post,” and from 1951, the stamps of West Germany were designated  “Deutsche Bundespost.” Those of West Berlin were inscribed “Deutsche Bundespost Berlin,” and those of East Germany had “Deutsche Demokratische Republik” or “DDR” on them. After the reunification of Germany, the stamps continued to have “Deutsche Bundespost” on  them  until  May 1995, from  when they were designated as “Deutschland.”

This change signified the creation of Deutsche Post AG, which maintains  its headquarters in Bonn and has divided its operations into four sectors. One is in charge of mail delivery and handles about 70 million letters, with deliveries on every day except Sunday. It also has direct connections with most countries in the world for delivery of mail overseas and receipt of mail from these countries. The second sector of Deutsche Post, under  the DHL brand, covers courier services, express, and parcel shipment  around  the world. The logistics section, also operating under DHL, handles long-term  contracts  with major companies; and the last sector of the business is financial services, with a retail banking network  in Germany for about 14.5 million   customers.   Privatized   in  2000,  Deutsche Post claims to be the leading logistics provider in the world. It employs about 520,000 employees in almost every country  in the world. It has revenue of $80.65 billion (2006).



  1. Jennifer Lach, “Deutsche Delivers,” American Demographics (v.22/2, 2000);
  2. Nils Machemehl, Deutsche Post, Logistics: Update. Equity Research Germany (Investment Research, 2005);
  3. John Parker, “Deutsche Post Hones Images,” Traffic World (v.261/10, 2000).

Deutsche Telekom

Formed in 1996 from the Deutsche Bundespost (German  Federal Post Office), Deutsche  Telekom  is the largest  telecommunications  company  in  Germany and also in the European  Union. When  it was controlled  by Deutsche  Bundespost,  the telephone  service in Germany  had been part  of the  state-owned monopoly that also controlled the postal services.

After the establishment  of the first telephone  services in the United States, it was not long before the first telephone  network was established in Germany. In 1880 the first telephone exchange in Germany was built in Mulhouse, in Alsace, then a part of Germany but now a part of France. The builders wanted to get a government permit to start operations, but the authorities in Berlin did not want a telephone service in Mulhouse before there was one in the German capital, so Berlin quickly opened its exchange in January 1881, initially with eight subscribers.  The exchange had capacity for 99 people, and they were dubbed by the press the “99 fools.” However, by May 1882, there were 699 subscribers,  and  the  service grew rapidly after  that,  with  the  Berlin Boerse (stock exchange) having a large number of lines for its brokers to use.

The Reichspost—which also ran postal services— also continued with the telephone service, and by 1888 the Berlin Telephone Exchange was able to claim that it had more telephone connections  than any city outside the United States. Two years later, a public “pay phone” was established  in each of the  10,000 local post offices. The service became better during World War  I with the increased  use of military engineers, and was also adapted and improved after the war by the Inter-Allied Control Commission.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the telephone system continued  to grow, with international calls possible, some  by radio.  It was even possible—at a cost—to telephone  zeppelins such as the Hindenburg. During World War II, the Germans connected conquered territories in eastern Europe to their telephone network. However, much of the phone system in eastern Germany was destroyed in late 1944 and 1945, although many lines survived—a Soviet soldier was able to telephone  the Berlin Bunker where an astonished  Josef Goebbels answered the telephone.

After the war, the system was repaired  and much of the network in Berlin and in many other cities were working reasonably  well by the  end  of 1945. There were  then  two  systems  in  operation,  one  covering West Germany and West Berlin, and the other for East Germany. There were also separate  networks  established by the  Americans  and  the  British, but  these were quickly merged with the West German system. In spite of the Cold War, it remained possible to telephone from West Germany to East Germany and vice versa, but there were occasional technical difficulties. Nevertheless, the system did work well and with the unification of Germany on October  3, 1990, the two systems were both held under Deutsche Bundespost, although moves were already afoot to split the postal and telephone  services of the company, as had happened in so many other countries in the world.

In 1996 Deutsche Telekom was privatized, but the German government has continued to hold a stake in it. The expectation  was that the new company would be able to raise capital more easily and be more efficient. Instead, with privatization, the government was forced  to  break  the  telephone  carrier’s monopoly; this led to some 1.5 million customers  leaving them for rival companies  in 2005 and  2006. As a result, Deutsche  Telekom shed 30,000 workers as its stock price fell dramatically. At the height of the speculative fever, shares went as high as €100, but later fell to €12, and in August 2008 they were trading at €10.97.


  1. “Deutsche Telekom—Bad Connection,” Economist (v.387/8575, 2008);
  2. Christian Hilpert, Strategische  Perspektiven die  Deutsche  Telekom  im  deregulierten  Marktumfeld  [Strategic  Perspectives  on  the  German Telecom Deregulated Market Environment] (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, 2007);
  3. Gerhild H. M. Komander, 1881: Berlins erstes Telefonbuch (Story Verlag, 2006);
  4. Eli Noam, Telecommunications in Europe (Oxford University Press, 1992);
  5. “Research and Markets Ltd.; Germany Has Europe’s Largest Telecom Market, Supported by a Large and Affluent Population,” Computers, Networks & Communications (August 18, 2008).

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