German shortwave transmitter

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aerial of the shortwave transmitter in Zeesen
(April 1931)

The German shortwave transmitter was a foreign radio program of the Third Reich . From April 1, 1933, it broadcast via shortwave and could be received worldwide until shortly before the end of the war . In 1938, programs were broadcast around the clock in 12 languages. No other radio station at that time used shortwave to this extent for self-expression and propaganda.

The National Socialists had taken over the broadcasting infrastructure of the world broadcasting station in Zeesen near Königs Wusterhausen from the previous government and introduced the name "German Shortwave Transmitter". It became one of several propaganda tools of the National Socialist government that had an impact abroad . Under the cover name Deutscher Kurzwellensender Atlantik , a radio station operated by the Allies broadcast to Germany during the Second World War , which used subtle methods of infiltration.



Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels immediately after Hitler came to power and the creation of the Propaganda Ministry on April 1, 1933, not only converted the domestic broadcasters to bring them into line with the party line, but also initiated international broadcasting as a political instrument.

Kurt von Boeckmann became director of the German shortwave transmitter when the broadcast began on April 1, 1933 and, in this function, head of the foreign department in the Reich broadcasting line. In terms of editorial content, the program started from a private villa near the Berlin radio station on Masurenallee with seven employees. In 1935 there were 51, then in 1938 242 employees. The British press, among others, found the shortwave transmitter to be aggressive in terms of its transmission power and content.

Test Olympic Games

On the occasion of the Olympic Winter Games in 1936, the Reichspost had expanded the transmission capacity via the antennas in Zeesen. In addition to the existing shortwave transmitters with 5 kW, 8 kW and 13 kW power, eight more with a transmission power of 40 kW and twelve directional emitters for particularly long ranges were added in 1935 and 1936. The new transmission capacities were used both for radio operations abroad, particularly in the USA, and for international program exchange.

On September 1, 1939, the KWS had 150 employees, including orchestra members and freelance journalists. In 1942 there were around 600. The program editors were in Kaiserdamm 77, the broadcasting studios in the Deutschlandhaus on today's Theodor-Heuss-Platz and the operating technology in barracks behind the broadcasting house in Bredtschneiderstrasse. In 1938 Albert Speer drafted a plan, which was not carried out later, for a separate radio house for the German short-wave transmitter, located between Kaiserdamm and Masurenallee.

In March 1940 Goebbels appointed Adolf Raskin from the Reichsender Saarbrücken as artistic director, after his death in the same year Toni Winkelnkemper from the Reichssender Cologne; In 1941 Horst Cleinow became the head of shortwave. In 1943 there was a name change: the German shortwave transmitter was henceforth and until shortly before the end of the Second World War in 1944, in contrast to the newly created European transmitters, Die Deutschen Überseeender .

Artistic director Kurt von Boeckmann in 1933

In Rundfunk im Aufbruch , Artistic Director Kurt von Boeckmann described the program and function of the new station in detail (as of June 1933):

“Since April 1 of this year, the short-wave transmitter has developed its own program service in its night program, which is broadcast daily from 1:00 am to 3:15 pm with directional beams to North and Central America. The night hours were chosen to compensate for the difference in solar time and to enable reception of German broadcasts in North America during the evening hours. The content of the programs is therefore primarily geared towards the American audience. Daily news is broadcast in German, English and Spanish. In addition, there are reports on developments within Germany under the national government, representative artistic programs and an entertainment program. Representing German cultural creations abroad, also on the short waves, educating about the new Germany, strengthening the ties to the homeland of our Germans abroad are the tasks of these night programs, the expansion of which is also planned for the transmission times of the daily program. In the course of this year, the directional spotlights will be increased to such an extent that it will be possible to cover all parts of the world that are important for Germany with a German program abroad.

Organizationally linked to the program service of the shortwave transmitter is the international program exchange, the task of which is to accommodate German programs with foreign companies and foreign programs with German companies. This exchange traffic has been in place since December 25, 1929 and to date (June 10, 1933) has brokered a total of 461 shipments. Of these, 92 went to North America, 93 from North America to Germany, 19 to South America (since September 5, 1932), five from South America (since March 2, 1932), three from Cairo (December 1932), and two to Persia (since January 1933) , a remote interview with the aviator v. Gronau Berlin - Batavia (on October 7, 1932), further to other European countries 101, from other European countries to Germany 145. All in all, Germany sent 213 mailings abroad and received 260 mailings, plus the exchange call. The cable network is used for traffic with other European countries, so that only transmissions to non-European areas are carried out with the help of short waves. The content of these exchange programs are primarily musical programs. Lectures mainly on cultural and political content have been sent to America. The reception reports were mostly good to excellent so that this exchange traffic of the world radio will remain a permanent facility. "

- Artistic director Kurt von Boeckmann :

Extended program

The Ministry of Propaganda, coordinated by the “Foreign Director” of the Reichs-Rundfunkgesellschaft Anton Winkelnkemper in close coordination with Goebbels, radiated 147 hours of foreign programs daily in 53 languages ​​into the world.

From the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, Winkelnkemper put more and more words in the program. In 1938 60% of the broadcasting route was still equipped with music, in 1943 it was only 46% and in 1944 30%. News came first, followed by comments, which at the time were called “talks” in German radio-internal parlance. While the domestic program stopped producing lavish programs, especially radio plays and new music recordings, during the war , the shortwave editors produced radio plays under the head dramaturge Willi Schäferdiek and music under the head of music at KWS Walter Jentsch - albeit in small quantities. When selecting music, the foreign language programs allowed themselves to go on excursions to the "hot music" (especially jazz) that Goebbels had banned from domestic radio but which he considered necessary for international radio. The German-language programs abroad ran at KWS under the name Deutsche Zone and, among other things, produced longer reports several times a week called "Features" with a large number of freelance workers. The fee for these reporters ranged from 20 Reichsmarks for three minutes to 240 RM for 60 minutes of reporting. Often these productions were later adopted in the programs of the Reich broadcasters, also thanks to improved recording options on vinyl (instead of wax) and magnetic tape. The mailing of letters deteriorated during the war, so that the KWS increasingly sent personal greetings. The most popular of these popular international programs were Blinkfeuer Heimat and Ankerspill .

World War II and the end

From 1943, the Deutsche Auslands Rundfunk Gesellschaft - Interradio AG, organized the international propaganda.

Because of the increasing threat to Berlin from bombing by the Allies, the shortwave transmitter moved to the countryside in August 1943, in the immediate vicinity of the transmitting antennas in Königs Wusterhausen. Intendancy and broadcasting management were housed in the station hotel, the editors and technicians had three sound storage rooms (small studios, mainly for sound editing). The broadcast studios themselves were in the basement of the post office. The relocation to Königs Wusterhausen resulted in several postponements. For example, the visually impaired had to move from the home for the blind to the “Brandenburg State Insane Asylum” in Teupitz so that around 80 shortwave radio employees could move into the home for the blind. The whole area was occupied by employees of the international broadcaster, for example the Deutsche Zone editorial team worked in the Gussow inn, the head of the international broadcaster Winkelnkemper moved into Schenkendorf Castle. A few weeks after the move, in November 1943, Allied bombs destroyed the entire area of ​​the shortwave transmitter in Berlin. The foreign program from Königs Wusterhausen had to be drastically reduced because of the primitive technology and the increasingly poor connection to Berlin (where employees stayed with their families due to the war or couriers with records never arrived in Königs Wusterhausen). In-house productions hardly took place any more, most of the program was taken over by the Reich broadcasters. Alternative points were created in Helmstedt (for shipments to India and the Middle East, in the basement of the Hotel Pätzold) and in Landshut (for Asia, in the dance hall of the “Goldene Sonne” inn). On April 25, 1945 the last technician cleared the facilities in Königs Wusterhausen for fear of the approaching Soviet army. The management staff (Winkelnkemper, Cleinow and the later Chancellor Kiesinger ) tried to make their way to Landshut, but never got there. At the end of April 1945, the "Golden Sun Sender" also stopped its program.


  • Ansgar Diller: Broadcasting Policy in the Third Reich . In: Hans Bausch (Ed.): Rundfunk in Deutschland , Volume 2, pp. 161 ff., Dtv, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-423-03184-0
  • Konrad Dussel: German Broadcasting History - An Introduction , UVK Medien Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Konstanz 1999, ISBN 3-89669-250-X
  • Hans Sarkowicz: Radio under the swastika , Deutsche Grammophon, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3829114486


  1. Today's radio feature has little to do with these pure reportage programs, which should give the impression that the listener is very close to the action live (even if this was often not the case); the common denominator is the factual content, i.e. the missing fictional elements.
  2. The post office was well suited as a location for the broadcasting studios because the cable connections to Berlin ran through it.

Individual evidence

  1. Start of shortwave broadcasting. Retrieved August 5, 2019 .
  2. The original quote can be found here under “Times Critique 1935” .
  3. See German Broadcasting Archive: Broadcasting Technology and the Olympic Games 1936
  4. a b Rundfunk im Aufbruch - Handbuch des Deutschen Rundfunks 1934 with radio calendar. Edited by the Reich Association of German Broadcasters (RDR) e. V., Berlin 1934
  5. ^ Herbert Schroeder: Interpreter and weapon . In: Welt-Rundfunk , issue 2, March / April 1943
  6. Magazine »Der Spiegel«, No. 25, 1967, article page 60 ff .: "ZEITGESCHICHTE / NS-RUNDFUNKPROPAGANDA Bessere Order" of June 12, 1967