By Elmo Viigipuu (Eesti Filatelist #36, 1996)

The smallest province of Estonia (1022.8 square km) has for the first time been mentioned in writing in the 11th century. When mail was carried for the first time from or to the island naturally is unknown. In the 16th and the 17th centuries mail has been moving between Hiiumaa and Saaremaa (Oesel). Swedish statistics from 1698 tell us that about 2000 letters were sent from Sweden to Estonia during that year, thereof 1 (one) letter to Hiiumaa.

When Estonia was incorporated in the Russian Empire in 1710 the mail situation, especially in Hiiumaa, went from bad to worse. The P.O.'s in Kuressaare and Haapsalu were closed and were re-opened first in 1765 and 1783 respectively.

The Russian historians Sokolov and Vigilev maintain that the passenger and mail line Kronstadt-Lübeck had a stop-over in Hiiumaa. If that was the case the harbor of Suursadam probably was used. In 1762 the Governor General ordered the so-called Parish Mail to be started so that official ordinances quickly could reach the addresses.

In 1786 this mail organization also was opened for private persons. Mail was carried from and to Haapsalu. In 1878 a telegraph office was opened in Kärdla, which also used a canceller. Only one copy of this cancellation is known (from 1879).

In 1889 the Post-Telegraph Office was opened in Kärdla. 5 different cancellers are known from this P.O.

In Käina a PTO was opened in 1903.

During the First World War the islands and the coast areas were fortified and there was a substantial concentration of forces. Which also required better communications. Temporary P.O.'s were functioning in Tahkuna, Kõpu, Ristna, Sõru and Lello (later Tamarino). P.O.'s were opened in Emmaste and Kõrgessaare. The correspondence was censored in Kärdla.

The islands were occupied by Germany in 1917 (Hiiumaa in October). German Field Post was functioning with F.P.O. No 686 in Kuressaare and center. Censorship in Riga. Ob.Ost P.O.'s in Kuressaare and Haapsalu. The Germans left Hiiumaa November 27, 1918.

The first Estonian P.O. was opened December 2, 1918 in Käina (in the first years spelled Keina) and December 4, 1918 in Kärdla. The P.O. in Kärdla also was a control P.O. for many postal agencies in Hiiumaa.

The opening of the P.O.'s was as follows:
Heltermaa March 18, 1919
Hiiu-Hellamaa October 22, 1919. Renamed Kuri November 14, 1919, which was closed December 30, 1933
Palade February 16 (or 25), 1925 and closed December 30, 1933
Suuremöisa March 22 (or 23), 1925
Nõmba March 20, 1929, closed December 1, 1938
Pühalepa December 30, 1933
Kassari July 22, 1927
Jausa July 30, 1928
Emmaste October 23, 1919
Tatermaa February 4, 1921
Nurste July 7, 1924
Mänspää February 6, 1927. NB! The canceller of Mänspää has gone astray and been used back-dated.
Valgu-Hiiumaal May 1, 1927. Renamed Ulja October 1, 1927
Tornimäe August 16, 1923
Puski April 12, 1927
Malvaste July 23, 1928
Isabella January 19, 1929. Closed January 22, 1931.

By an agreement between the Soviet Union and Estonia in 1939 the Soviet Union was entitled to have military bases in Hiiumaa. The first ships with troops arrived to Heltermaa October 23, 1939.

October 17 a military censorship edict was issued. The mail from Hiiumaa was checked in Haapsalu. The full Soviet occupation took place June 17, 1940. The postal organization continued as previously, using the same cancellers and in the beginning also Estonian postage stamps. The civil mail organization was also used by the Soviet military, whereby the soldiers were entitled to free frank procedure. After the start of the war between the Soviet Union and Germany a naval F.P.O. was opened in Kärdla (No 1112).

Hiiumaa was taken by the Germans October 21, 1941. The Estonian postal organization was reactivated and started already October 26, 1941. All P.O.'s were reopened with the exception of Tatermaa and Nurste. October 2 and 3, 1944, the Soviet forces again arrived to Hiiumaa.