Funk hour Berlin

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Historical microphone of the radio hour in the house of broadcasting

The radio-hour Berlin AG was the first radio station in Germany. The station was operated by the broadcasting company of the same name and broadcast its radio program from Berlin in what was then the "North German broadcasting district". The headquarters of the company was the Vox-Haus , since in addition to the Reichspost the Vox record and talking machine AG was involved in the transmitter.


The radio hour in Berlin goes back to the " German hour " (Society for wireless instruction and entertainment) founded by Ernst Ludwig Voss , a former legation councilor in the Foreign Office . With the first radio broadcast in Germany, it began broadcasting on October 29, 1923 at eight o'clock in the evening with the words:

"Attention attention! Here the transmission point Berlin is in the Voxhaus on wave 400 meters. Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to inform you that the entertainment broadcasting service will begin today with the distribution of music performances by wireless telephone. Use is subject to approval. "

- Friedrich Georg Knöpfke

The first piece of music broadcast was a cello solo with piano accompaniment broadcast live from the attic of the reception house, the "Andantino" by Fritz Kreisler , a reworked composition by Giovanni Battista Martini , played by Otto Urack (1884–1963) and Fritz Goldschmidt (1886– 1935). The transmitter had its first transmission and recording rooms in the Vox house near Potsdamer Platz . The radio hour had 100,000 listeners six months later and existed until the conversion to the “Reichssender Berlin” in 1934. On December 10, 1923, six weeks after the start of broadcasting, the “Radio-hour AG” became the successor to the “German hour” “Founded. With this company, which was entered in the commercial register under the name “Funk-Stunden AG” in 1924 , the founding phase of the regional broadcasting companies in Germany began.

Hans Bredow in front of a microphone during the radio hour (postage stamp of the Deutsche Bundespost Berlin from 1973)

On January 18, 1924, an attempt was made for the first time to record an entire work in the theater, transmit it to the transmitter in the Vox house and thereby broadcast it wirelessly. The Reich Telegraph Office took over the technical management. Was given to Franz Lehar's Frasquita conducted by the composer in the Thalia Theater . A single microphone was used, a desk dictation microphone, suspended over the second parquet below the first tier. The amplifier arrangement was housed in the alien's box. The attempt was not entirely successful, the listeners will hardly have had complete enjoyment, but the path to the opera broadcast was now on. Even if it was almost a year before the first real opera broadcast took place. But on October 8, 1924, the Magic Flute was transferred from the Berlin State Opera .

The Times of London placed the origin of the radio hour in the political conditions of the Weimar Republic :

“The first German broadcasting company, Berliner Funk Stunden AG , was founded in October 1923, in times of great monetary inflation and social unrest. The cost of the first radio license was 60  gold marks or 780 billion of the then current national currency; these numbers give a good idea of ​​the conditions of time. Nevertheless, by the end of the year there were over a thousand optimists who were ready to spend these enormous sums of money on the privilege of listening to the first German radio programs. After the currency stabilized, the fee sank to 24 gold marks per year, the equivalent of £ 1  4 shillings, where it is to this day. In Germany there are now almost two million radio subscribers. "

- The Times

The station could be received in the so-called "North German broadcasting district". In 1924, this comprised the upper post office districts Berlin , Potsdam and half of the upper post office districts Stettin , Schwerin , Magdeburg , Frankfurt (Oder) , d. H. partly the states of Mecklenburg-Schwerin , Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Prussia . From 1929 the transmission area included the upper post office districts of Berlin, Potsdam, Stettin, Frankfurt (Oder) and half of Magdeburg, d. H. Parts of the Free State of Prussia . Almost 9.2 million people lived in the transmission area in 1924 and around 8.8 million in 1929.

The first board of directors consisted of Friedrich Georg Knöpfke , Wilhelm Wagner and Theodor Weldert. Knöpfke was director of the Funkstunde-AG from 1924 to 1933. The first chairman of the supervisory board was Kurt Magnus from 1924 to 1927 . In 1927, the Wiesbaden theater director, Carl Hagemann , became the director of the Funk Hour, who withdrew from the position at the beginning of 1929 due to differences in content.

From 1926 on, the broadcasting company was run by the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG). In February 1926, the Deutsche Reichspost joined the RRG and took over 51 percent of the RRG's shares. The administration and economy of German broadcasting as a whole and thus also of Funk-Hour Berlin were in the hands of the Reich Ministry of Post . On June 1, 1926, the previous State Secretary in the Reich Post Ministry, Hans Bredow , was appointed Broadcasting Commissioner to the Reich Post Minister and chairman of the RRG administrative board. From 1927 to 1933, Hans Bredow was also chairman of the radio hour's supervisory board.

On August 22, 1926, a political monitoring committee and on February 14, 1927 a political cultural advisory committee were attached to the station, which should also use censorship to ensure the impartiality and balance of the program. From 1926 to 1933 the members of the monitoring committee were Ernst Heilmann , Oswald Riedel and Erich Scholz. Wilhelm Waetzoldt was chairman of the cultural advisory board from 1927 to 1933 . Other members of the cultural advisory board were Heinrich Schulz , as a representative of the Reich government and Richard Hofmann as a representative of the Prussian government.

The first conductors of the Funk-Orchester der Funk-Hour Berlin were Wilhelm Buschkötter (until 1926), Bruno Seidler-Winkler (1926 to September 1932) and Eugen Jochum (1932–1934). In June 1929, after a month-long selection process, during which Kurt Weill was also under discussion as radio director, the Frankfurt radio maker Hans Flesch , who was known for his radio plays , was appointed to succeed Carl Hagemann as director of the Funk-Hour . Under Flesch, a number of serious radio play productions were realized at the Funk-Hour from 1929. From 1929, Edlef Köppen was head of the literary department of the Funk-Hour , who had worked for the station since 1925 and staged several of these radio plays. His successor, appointed by the Nazi leadership, was Arnolt Bronnen in June 1933 .

Radio exhibition on Kaiserdamm in Berlin with the stand of the Berliner Rundfunk as an overview of the current broadcasts of the Berliner Funk-Hour, 1931

From 1931 on, the radio hour Berlin broadcast from the house of broadcasting . In October 1932, in place of the dismissed Hans Flesch, the staunch National Socialist Richard Kolb , NSDAP and SA member from the very beginning, was appointed station manager. The National Socialist program magazine Der Deutsche Sender praised Kolb's conversion of the station in its edition of February 26, 1933:

“In general, the Berliner Funkstunde today under its deputy director Richard Kolb is exemplary for the programming of broadcasting in Germany of national renewal. We only refer to the current lectures this week and the coming week, in which the contemporary historical problems of Germany and the historical mission of Adolf Hitler and the other leaders of the Reich government are dealt with. The socialist radio broadcasts maliciously insulted Kolb. This proves that Kolb is on the right path to lead radio up to its trend-setting tasks in national Germany. "

- The German broadcaster

With effect from January 1, 1933, the transmitter was converted into a GmbH . In 1934 the GmbH was liquidated and the radio hour was renamed Reichssender Berlin . Numerous employees were dismissed in 1933 or were banned from working, including prominent radio pioneers such as Alfred Braun , Hans Bredow, Hermann Kasack , Friedrich Georg Knöpfke, Edlef Köppen, Kurt Magnus, Franz Mariaux and Gerhart Pohl . The Reichsender Berlin remained on the air until the end of the war in early May 1945.


Board of Directors and Supervisory Board

  • Hans Bredow (Chairman of the Supervisory Board)
  • Hans Flesch (board member)
  • Friedrich Georg Knöpfke (the first director of FST Berlin, responsible for commercial and artistic matters)
  • Carl Hagemann (board member)
  • Kurt Magnus (the first chairman of the FST Berlin supervisory board)
  • Wilhelm Wagner (Director, responsible for technical matters)
  • Theodor Weldert (Director, responsible for press affairs and for lectures of an instructive and entertaining nature)


Music and radio plays


Web links

References and comments

  1. a b Brigitte Baetz: First radio station in Germany goes into operation. In: Deutschlandfunk , October 28, 2013, accessed on July 9, 2020.
  2. ^ Adrian Haus: The first piece of music on German radio. German Broadcasting Archive , accessed on July 9, 2020.
  3. ^ Der deutsche Rundfunk , issue 30 of July 27, 1924, p. 1671.
  4. Broadcasting In Germany. Twenty-Five Stations. In: The Times , Oct 6, 1927, 6.
  5. Stefanie Kleiner: State Action in Wonderland. Opera and festival as media of political representation (1890–1930). Oldenbourg, Munich 2013, p. 361.
  6. Appendix. Five texts by Kurt Weill (PDF; 937 kB). In: Nils Grosch, Joachim Lucchesi , Jürgen Schebera (eds.): Kurt Weill studies. Volume 1. Publications of the Kurt Weill Society Dessau, Springer, Heidelberg 1996, ISBN 978-3-476-45166-8 , pp. 193-200, here: pp. 194f.
  7. ^ Dietmar Schenk: The Berlin University of Music. Prussia's Conservatory between Romantic Classicism and New Music, 1869–1932 / 33. Steiner, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-515-08328-6 , pp. 265f.
  8. Peter Jelavich: Berlin Alexanderplatz. Radio, Film, and the Death of Weimar Culture. University of California Press, Berkeley 2006, ISBN 978-0-520-25997-3 , pp. 75, 87.
  9. Appendix. Five texts by Kurt Weill (PDF; 937 kB). In: Nils Grosch, Joachim Lucchesi , Jürgen Schebera (eds.): Kurt Weill studies. Volume 1. Publications of the Kurt Weill Society Dessau, Springer, Heidelberg 1996, ISBN 978-3-476-45166-8 , pp. 193-200, here: p. 195.
  10. a b Peter Jelavich: Berlin Alexanderplatz. Radio, Film, and the Death of Weimar Culture. University of California Press, Berkeley 2006, ISBN 978-0-520-25997-3 , pp. 84f.
  11. Separation of the spirits. Editorial in Der Deutsche Sender 9/1933 of February 26, 1933.