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The Deutsche Bundespost (German federal post office) was created in 1947 in the Trizone as a successor to the Reichspost (German imperial post office). Between 1947 and 1950 the enterprise was called Deutsche Post (German post office). Until 1989 the Deutsche Bundespost was a state-owned company.
The Bundespost was developed according to a three-stage principle common in public administration in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, then still without the later acceding Saarland and the New states of Germany). The upper stage consisted of the federal ministry for the post office and telecommunication system. The middle stage consisted of regional directorates (Bundespostdirektionen) and the state post office management (Landespostdirektion) under western Allied authority in West Berlin (see Deutsche Post Berlin (Deutsche Bundespost Berlin)) as of 1949/1955), with certain central bureaucracies (post office technical central office, telecommunication engineering central office, postal administration social office, and post offices) on an equal footing. Finally, the lower stage consisted of the actual post offices, postal giro (akin to a checking account) and savings bank offices, and telecommunication offices.
The legal basis for the administrative activity of the Bundespost was the postal administration law (Postverwaltungsgesetz, abbreviated PostVwG). A central goal of public administrative policy after 1924 was financial self-sufficiency. Political goals, however, often superseded this goal. According to the PostVwG, the federal postal system was to be administered "according to the principles of the policy of the FRG, in particular trade, economic, financial and social policies" and "the interests of the German national economy."
The Deutsche Bundespost was the largest employer in the Federal Republic. In 1985 it employed 543,200 people.
In the first post office reform (July 1, 1989), the Bundespost was divided into three divisions (also called public enterprises):
- Deutsche Bundespost Postdienst - postal service
- Deutsche Bundespost Telekom - communications service
- Deutsche Bundespost Postbank - postal bank
The central authorities remained as described above. The divisions were later privatized in the second post office reform (January 1, 1995), resulting in the creation of the following:
- Deutsche Post AG from the postal service
- Deutsche Telekom AG from the communications service
- Deutsche Postbank AG from the postal bank
The federal ministry for post office and telecommunications (Bundesministerium für Post und Telekommunikation) retained oversight responsibility for postal services and telecommunications. After the dissolution of that ministry on 1 January 1998, those tasks were taken over by a new federal network regulatory agency (Bundesnetzagentur, formerly RegTP) under the federal ministry for economics and technology. Other functions (such as the issuance of postage stamps) were taken over by the federal ministry of finance. Some telecommunications functions (including BOS radio) were turned over to the federal ministry of the interior.
For certain official and legal purposes (including certain financial, medical and other services for former postal civil servants), a "federal institution for post and telecommunication" (Bundesanstalt für Post und Telekommunikation) was created.