Heinrich von Stephan
was a general post director for the German Empire who reorganized the German
postal service. He was integral in the founding of the Universal Postal Union in
Stephan was born in the Kingdom
of Prussia. In 1866 he was put in charge by the Prussian government of
federalizing the postal service that had long been privately run. In 1870 he was
named director of postal services for the North German Confederation.
was named Postmaster General of the German Empire in 1876, the
Undersecretary of State in charge of the post office in 1880, and the
Minister of Postal Services for Germany in 1895.
When Stephan began his work
as a postal worker, Germany was divided into 17 independent states, each
with its own separate policies and fees. He worked early on to establish a
uniform postage rate throughout Germany, to facilitate easier mailing. He
organized the International Postal Conference in Bern in 1874, in which the
Universal Postal Union was established.
He introduced the postcard
(which he had initially suggested in 1865) to Germany in 1870. He is also
credited with having introduced the telephone to Germany in 1877.