Broadcasting of the GDR

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Funkhaus Nalepastraße, 1970

Broadcasting in the GDR and German Democratic Broadcasting were names for state radio in the GDR . It existed from May 13, 1945 to December 31, 1991, including its predecessor and successor organizations in the Soviet occupation zone , the GDR and reunified Germany.

After starting out at different locations, from 1956 to 1991 the central seat was the Funkhaus Nalepastraße in the Berlin district of Oberschöneweide . In addition, there were numerous broadcasting houses and studios in various cities in the GDR, such as Rostock , Schwerin , Potsdam, Cottbus, Dresden, Weimar and Leipzig for the production of regional and central programs . The technical facilities for the production, transmission and distribution of the radio programs belonged to the Deutsche Post , the studio technology to its central service studio technology broadcasting . Until 1968, the Deutsche Fernsehfunk (DFF) , the television of the GDR, was organizationally part of the GDR radio.

The Hanns Eisler Prize was awarded to young composers or musicologists by Radio DDR , a radio program in the GDR, together with other institutions.

Use of language

In addition to the names mentioned above, “Radio in der DDR” or “DDR Radio” can also be found in the literature. There was also a difference in the use of the term “radio” in the sense of radio between the language varieties of the Federal Republic up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the GDR, where the term “radio” was common.


"20 Years of German Democratic Broadcasting". GDR postage stamp from 1966

The broadcasting of the GDR was subordinate to the State Committee for Broadcasting (StKfR) founded in 1952 at the Council of Ministers of the GDR . This committee was the directive body for the radio and exercised a management and control function.

The directors of the individual broadcasters Voice of the GDR , Radio DDR with the two programs Radio DDR I and DDR II , Berliner Rundfunk and Radio Berlin International , from 1986 also DT64 were subordinate to the StKfR . Radio DDR continued to be subordinate to the regional programs.

In 1973 the main music department (HA Music) was founded. She was responsible for the production and procurement of music of all genres, for the exchange with international radio stations as well as the implementation of concerts of the radio's own orchestra. 950 people worked in HA Musik, about half each in the broadcasting houses in Berlin and Leipzig. HA Musik included two symphony orchestras, two choirs, two entertainment orchestras, three dance orchestras and two children's choirs as well as five production departments, the sound control, music and sheet music archive, instrument management, the international music exchange department and an IT department.


Soviet occupation zone

Two days after the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht , on May 10, 1945, the Soviet city commander in Berlin, Nikolai Bersarin , ordered the re-establishment of public broadcasting in the Soviet Zone . On May 12th, Bersarin and Walter Ulbricht commissioned the KP functionary Hans Mahle , who belonged to the Ulbricht group, to restart the transmitter in Berlin-Tegel . Ulbricht said:

"Comrade Mahle, you have experience in radio work, you gained experience at the station 'Free Germany' and previously at the Moscow radio station , you know the policy of the National Committee 'Free Germany' , this policy of the National Committee 'Free Germany' must be implemented on the radio . "

With other members of the Ulbricht group ( Fritz Erpenbeck , Otto Fischer ) as well as the journalist Artur Mannbar , the engineer Erwin Wilke and the pastor Matthäus Klein , Mahle got down to work immediately and managed to do it just one day later, on May 13, 1945 broadcast the first program. Mannbar and Klein acted as speakers, reading out the texts of the deed of surrender, reports on the victory ceremony in Moscow on the surrender, first orders from the Soviet Military Command (SMAD), quotations from Pravda and playing the national anthems of the victorious powers. The speakers sat in front of the Masurenallee radio station during the recording and broadcast the one-hour recording via the antennas of the Tegel station .

The program was initially called Radio Berlin and went on air with the words “Here speaks Berlin”. The first series of programs were called “Pulsschlag Berlin” and “Tribüne der Demokratie”. Artur Mannbar was the first news editor, Erwin Wilke took care of the technology, Matthäus Klein hired the staff - 100 employees within a few months, many of whom were made redundant. Mahle later said about personnel policy at the beginning:

“Of course, comrades, as I said, people sometimes fell back on people who were not very good. But there was no other way to do that at that time, they had to be gradually eliminated, didn't you, to the extent that we managed to develop new powers ourselves, so to speak. "

A short time later the program was renamed from Radio Berlin to Berliner Rundfunk . At that time, its main task was to provide regional radio coverage for the highly politicized post-war Berlin.

The second man after Mahle at the Berliner Rundfunk was the future Minister-President of Saxony, Max Seydewitz . He hired on a regular working basis as political commentators "qualified party journalists" like the later intelligence chief Markus Wolf , the employed at Radio Munich antifascists Herbert Gessner and later television presenter of The Black Channel , Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler , who earlier in the North West German Radio was busy .

Under Seydewitz, there was a break with the West Berlin SPD when the Berliner Rundfunk confronted two election campaign speeches in collage technique in October 1946, of which those of SPD leader Kurt Schumacher strongly opposed the calm one because of his high-pitched voice that was reminiscent of Hitler Speech of the SED man Wilhelm Pieck fell away . Sound engineer Wilke had deliberately recorded the Schumacher speech too slowly to make it sound higher and faster when played on the transmitter at normal speed; conversely, he had accelerated the tape when Pieck was recording. There was a dispute between Seydewitz and the Berlin SPD chairman Franz Neumann . Three months later Neumann announced that no Social Democrat would ever be heard on the Berlin radio again.

After Seydewitz went into politics in Saxony in the summer of 1947, Heinz Schmidt was his successor. Under Schmidt, the station briefly opened up in terms of content and form; Among other things, Schmidt created the program “Die Welt im Funk” , inspired by the British BBC , with news from all over the world and political glosses. On May 1, 1949, the German broadcaster started as a full program on the long-wave frequency of 191 kHz approved by the Soviet administration from Königs Wusterhausen , with a transmission power of 100 kW, which was high for the time. The Deutschlandsender was intended as an instrument of the West German KPD, and by the Copenhagen wave plan, which came into force on March 15, 1950, it reached large parts of East and West Germany. From then on, the German station broadcast over weak shortwave stations until the Soviets made the longwave 263 kHz available at the end of March, which, however, did not reach the Ruhr area with its KPD-affine workers in particular. Markus Wolf moderated the new program “Treffpunkt Berlin”, the writer and later radio play author Karl Georg Egel became editor-in-chief. The Deutschlandsender shared numerous programs with Berliner Rundfunk, which changed with the new editor-in-chief Leo Bauer from March 1949. The content was now largely independent.

At the same time as the radio was being rebuilt in Berlin, various broadcasters in other parts of the Soviet Zone also resumed operations. The SMAD u. a. Also in 1945 Radio Leipzig , from which the re-founded Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk emerged shortly afterwards . A little later, other broadcasters in the Soviet occupation zone were instructed to take over program parts of the Berlin radio.

From the founding of the GDR to 1960

Funkhaus Nalepastraße, 2006

After the founding of the GDR on October 7, 1949, the SED's unrestricted access to radio was systematically promoted. Several waves of political "cleansing measures" from 1948 onwards led to the dismissal of a large part of the radio staff in management positions. The secretary of the Central Committee for Agitation and Propaganda, Hermann Axen , was responsible for this, and from October 1949 he completely rebuilt the German station. Among other things, he fired the general manager Mahle , the manager Schmidt, the editor-in-chief Bauer, the editor-in-chief Egel and the music director of the Berlin radio station Harry Goldschmidt . The range of reasons was wide: Goldschmidt played too “cosmopolitan”, too “western”, too “elitist” jazz and swing music and gave too little consideration to the music of “the peoples of the Soviet Union”. Bauer was a Western spy; he was tried, sentenced to death, but not executed. Successors loyal to the SED line were as director of the Berliner Rundfunk, Rudolf Pfützner , and as director general Kurt Heiss .

In 1952 the State Broadcasting Committee (with a special directorship for German television broadcasting ) was formed as the highest central management body for all broadcasters. From 1954, the seat of the GDR radio was the newly built radio house in Nalepastrasse in Berlin-Oberschöneweide . This broadcasting center was officially opened on September 4, 1954, after the completion of the building was delayed by about a year as a result of a fire. The new building had become necessary because, in view of political developments and the beginning of the Cold War, the GDR broadcasting headquarters in the West Berlin House of Broadcasting had turned out to be intolerable.

The founding of the State Broadcasting Committee was accompanied by a restructuring and centralization of broadcasting in the GDR. Henceforth all programs were produced in Berlin. The previous state broadcasters were converted into district broadcasters and were given a supply function for the programs from Berlin. In addition, regional and special programs were also produced by the district broadcasters . These ran, for example, comparable to today's window programs as morning programs on Radio DDR II . Special programs included the trade fair wave in Leipzig and the “Radio-DDR” holiday wave for holidaymakers in the Baltic Sea.

In May 1955, after the broadcasting center in Nalepastrasse went into operation, the Berliner Zeitung delivered impressive statistics:

“From January 1, 1946, the number of registered listeners rose from 1.4 million to more than 4 million on January 1, 1955. In 1954, 18,000 listeners wrote to their radio every month. 1132 working people are active as radio correspondents. Our radio broadcasts three programs a day with a total of 63 hours via one long wave, 14 medium wave, 3 short wave and 10 VHF transmitters. The manuscripts of all word broadcasts correspond to a daily newspaper of 22 pages. The music contributions of individual word-of-mouth broadcasts alone amounted to 79,169 minutes in April, that is 26,389 record pages or tapes weighing 4,350 kg and a length of 3,958,000 meters. "

The 1960s to 1980s

Annual broadcast hours 1965–1989. Red: word program, blue: music
The GDR transistor radio Sternchen from 1960

“The media policy decisions made in the 1950s remained essentially valid until 1989.” Three weeks after the construction of the Berlin Wall , on September 5, 1961, the increased ideological isolation from the “ ox heads ” began. The FDJ started the “Blitz contra Nato transmitter” campaign, during which radio roof antennas aimed at west reception were turned or destroyed by FDJ members for east reception.

The tasks of the GDR radio also included disrupting unpleasant programs from the West. The RIAS was particularly affected ; attempts were made, more or less successfully, to make its medium wave frequencies ( Berlin-Britz and Hof ) inaudible by a network of jammers that spanned the entire GDR until the Geneva Wave Plan came into force in 1978.

The number of broadcast hours increased particularly in the late 1980s. One reason for this is, among other things, the start of DT64 as an independent program.

After the political change in 1989

After the fall of the Berlin Wall , the broadcasting company was renamed Funkhaus Berlin (FU), staff were cut and broadcasting was discontinued on December 31, 1991 on the basis of the State Treaty on Broadcasting in Unified Germany. Until the establishment of the public broadcasting system, the program was gradually regionalized. For example, with Antenne Brandenburg , Sachsen Radio , Thüringen 1 and Radio Sachsen-Anhalt, forerunners of the later state programs of the public broadcasters in the five new federal states formed.

On August 1, 1990, "Radio DDR I" was renamed to "Radio Aktuell", retained its program format (information and entertainment) and broadcast until December 31, 1991. The "Voice of the GDR" was renamed to "Radio Aktuell" on February 12, 1990. Deutschlandsender "renamed. This and "Radio DDR II" merged on June 16, 1990 to form Deutschlandsender Kultur (DS Kultur).

The Unification Treaty stipulated in Article 36 that the structures of the " establishment are" to transfer (broadcast of the GDR and German television broadcasting) until 31 December 1991 in structures of a public broadcasting system or otherwise dissolve. The ARD was then expanded to include the ORB for Brandenburg (merged with the SFB to form the RBB in 2003 ) and the MDR . The NDR was responsible for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

RBI ceased operations on October 3, 1990. Deutsche Welle took over its frequencies .

From DS Culture and RIAS 1 the "Germany radio Berlin" (DLR Berlin), the current was 1 January 1994 Germany radio culture (Dlf culture), which is based in the former RIAS radio station on Hans-Rosenthal -Platz in Berlin-Schöneberg has .

The archive material of the GDR radio is now managed by the German Broadcasting Archive (DRA) at the Babelsberg location , and can also be used by private users.


Until 1990 the radio of the GDR broadcast five programs nationwide:

  • Radio DDR I - a news and entertainment program
  • Radio DDR II - from 1964, cultural and educational programs, in the morning also regional programs
  • Voice of the GDR - an information program for German-speaking listeners inside and especially outside the GDR. The program was created on November 14, 1971 through the merger of the Deutschlandsender (for listeners in the Federal Republic) with Berliner Welle (for listeners in West Berlin).
  • Berliner Rundfunk - the station "... from the capital for the republic ..." and
  • DT64 - the "youth radio" (named after the German youth meeting in 1964 ). Independent program only from 1986/87, before that as a youth studio DT 64 part of “Voice of the GDR” and “Berliner Rundfunk”. Was close to the FDJ .

Although these programs had thematic focus in terms of content, there was no current public service programs comparable to a specific target group. For example, B. all programs radio plays, scientific or cultural contributions.

Foreign broadcaster:

Secret transmitter of the GDR for listeners outside the country's borders. They were not officially part of the GDR radio:

In addition, the following special programs existed:

  • Ferienwelle - holiday program for the Baltic Sea region (only during the holiday season between May and September)
  • Trade fair wave - program for trade fair guests (colorful, western-oriented program during the Leipzig trade fair, one week each in March and September)

The programs of the GDR radio were broadcast on long , medium , short and ultra short waves .

Sound body

The GDR radio was also the carrier of numerous orchestras. These were u. a .:

The Hanns Eisler Prize was awarded to young composers or musicologists by Radio DDR , a radio program in the GDR, together with other institutions.

Main department of radio drama

The main radio drama department (HA Funkdramatik) comprised seven departments, namely for "radio play", "feature", "international radio drama", "entertaining series", "radio plays for children", "transmitter / director" and "production and broadcast management". From February 1962 to April 1974 Manfred Engelhardt , 1975–1977 Hans Bentzien and 1977–1990 Peter Gugisch acted as the main department head .

According to an establishment plan from 1962, the radio drama main department had 103 employees. At the end of the 1980s there were around 120 permanent employees, including around 40 development dramaturges and around 35 directors. Then there were the freelance assistant directors and directors. With a volume of approx. 300 new productions per year, approx. 25 weekly slots with radio-dramatic genres were organized together with repeats.

Production numbers

year 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1988 1989
Broadcast hours word 32,217 36,866 32,479 35,435 38,221 46,033 48,428
Broadcast hours of music 31,499 31,131 29,706 31,583 33,804 48.112 48,953
Total broadcast hours 63,716 67,997 62.185 67.018 72.025 94.145 97.381
Avg / week 1,222 1,304 1,193 1,282 1,381 1,800 1,868

Broadcasting of the Soviet Union

For the Soviet troops stationed in the GDR, the Soviet Union broadcast a Russian-language program on the long-wave frequency of 261 kilohertz (kHz) under the name “ Radio Volga ”. The international service broadcast on the medium wave frequency of 1323 kHz. Broadcasting facilities were used that were also used by the GDR radio and, like these, were operated by the Deutsche Post, in Burg (long wave) and Wiederau (medium wave).

The first program of Soviet television was also broadcast at the military bases via a network of small channels. Their ranges were limited, similar to AFN and SSVC TV in Germany. The transmitters were switched off in 1994.

From January 1989, the high-performance transmitter in Wachenbrunn was used for international service . The radio station " Radio Volga " was switched off after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the long-wave frequency took over - until it ceased operations in early 2000 - Radioropa Info . The high-performance transmitter in Wachenbrunn , which came into the possession of Deutsche Telekom after the fall of the Wall , was still used by the Russian international service to broadcast its programs in the medium wave range until the end of 2012 . Until the end of 2013, a second, but less powerful medium wave transmitter was broadcast in Zehlendorf near Oranienburg.


  • Klaus Arnold : Cold War in the ether. The German broadcaster and the GDR's western propaganda . Lit, Münster 2002, ISBN 3-8258-6180-5 .
  • Klaus Arnold, Christoph Classen (Ed.): Between Pop and Propaganda. Radio in the GDR. Links, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-86153-343-X .
  • Sibylle Bolik : The radio play in the GDR. Lang, Frankfurt a. a. 1994, ISBN 3-631-46955-1 .
  • Patrick Conley : Features and reports on radio in the GDR. Recordings from 1964–1991. 2nd Edition. Askylt, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-9807372-0-9 . (Digitized version)
  • Patrick Conley: The partisan journalist. Metropol, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86331-050-9 .
  • Georg Dannenberg : Socialist broadcast journalism. 2nd Edition. Karl Marx University, Leipzig 1978.
  • Manuela Gerlof: soundtracks. Memories of the Holocaust in the GDR radio play (1945–1989). de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2010, ISBN 978-3-11-022589-1 .
  • Martin Harttwig: From the early days of democratic broadcasting . In: Ernst Günther, Heinz P. Hofmann, Walter Rösler (eds.): Cassette. An almanac for the stage, podium and ring (=  cassette ). No. 3 . Henschelverlag Art and Society, Berlin 1979, p. 99-109 .
  • Christian Könne: Radio in the GDR in the 1960s. Plans, innovations, realities. Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-942476-08-9 .
  • Edward Larkey: Red Rock Radio. Popular music and the commercialization of the GDR radio. Münster 2007, ISBN 978-3-8258-0163-2 .
  • Ingrid Pietrzynski (arrangement): The documents of the GDR radio. An inventory overview. DRA, Potsdam-Babelsberg 2002, ISBN 3-926072-99-7 .
  • Heide Riedel: Radio and television in the GDR - function, structure and program of radio in the GDR. ed. from the German Broadcasting Museum e. V., Berlin (West), in Literarischer Verlag Helmut Braun, Cologne 1977.
  • Heide Riedel (Ed.): The new times are moving with us - 40 years of GDR media. Vista-Verlag, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-89158-095-9 .
  • Ingrid Scheffler (Hrsg.): Literature in the GDR radio. Günter Kunert - Bitterfelder Weg - radio feature. UVK, Konstanz 2005, ISBN 3-89669-478-2 .
  • Matthias Thalheim: Dummy head stereophony and radio play - dramaturgical and staging consequences of dummy head stereophony in radio-dramatic productions of the radio of the GDR , Neopubli, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-7375-9781-4

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Reiner Stein: From television and radio in the GDR to ARD . Tectum publishing house. Marburg 2000, ISBN 3-8288-8089-4 , p. 33.
  2. ^ Christoph Classen, Klaus Arnold: Between Pop and Propaganda: Radio in the GDR . Christoph Links Verlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-86153-343-X , p. 14.
  3. ^ Olaf Leitner: Rock scene GDR: Aspects of a mass culture in socialism . Reinbek near Hamburg, Rowohlt 1983, ISBN 3-499-17697-1 , p. 278.
  4. a b Minutes of the State Broadcasting Committee of the 1st conference of the Lektorat Rundfunkgeschichte on April 25, 1966. Quoted from Klaus Arnold: Kalter Krieg im Äther. The German broadcaster and the GDR's western propaganda . Lit, Münster 2002, ISBN 3-8258-6180-5 , p. 218.
  5. Patrick Conley: The Partial Journalist. Metropol, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86331-050-9 , p. 34.
  6. Leo Bauer was released from prison after years of forced labor in Siberia, went to the West and became an advisor to Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt .
  7. Berliner Zeitung. May 13, 1955, p. 2.
  8. Patrick Conley: The Partial Journalist. Metropol, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86331-050-9 , p. 35.
  9. Christian could: The Radio DDR Holiday wave '. Program for Vacation in Socialism. In: radio and history . Vol. 35, H. 3 + 4, pp. 15-29.
  10. Fair wave . ( Memento of February 4, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) In: RundfunkWiki
  11. ^ Ensembles of the German Democratic Republic 1989/90 - theaters, orchestras, cabarets, ensembles, schools, institutions, freelance actors. Publisher: Directorate for Theater and Orchestra at the Ministry of Culture, 1989, OCLC 603177529 , p. 109.
  12. Press information, Ohring e. V., 2nd Radio Festival 2003.
  13. In detail, there were nine weekly broadcast dates for radio plays on five programs (Berliner Rundfunk, Radio DDR I and II, Voice of the GDR and youth radio DT 64), five broadcast dates were for children's radio plays, four for features, three for short radio plays, four on crime radio plays and two on "family series radio plays". The exact broadcast dates can be found in the GDR radio program and in the leaflet Funkdramatik , Rundfunk der DDR, September 1989 edition.