People's Receiver

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Volksempfänger, type VE 301 W (1933)
Goebbels in front of a Volksempfänger of the type VE 301 Dyn, right Reichsrundfunkkammer - President Hans Kriegler , at the radio exhibition on August 5, 1938

The People's Radio (also Community receiver called) was a radio receiver for the reception of medium frequency broadcast and long-wave radio , which on behalf of Reich propaganda leader Joseph Goebbels was developed and a few months after the seizure of power of Adolf Hitler was introduced in late January 1933rd It is considered to be one of the most important instruments of Nazi propaganda .


The first model of the VE 301 was made by Otto Griessing at the Berlin company Dr. G. Seibt developed. It was presented in August 1933 at the 10th German Radio Exhibition in Berlin. The design of the bakelite case came from Walter Maria Kersting . All major German radio manufacturers were obliged to produce the Volksempfänger according to uniform specifications. In addition, the Rundfunktechnische Produktergemeinschaft GmbH was founded, in which companies for the production of "community products" came together. The prescribed price of the version for operation on the power grid was 76 Reichsmarks ; a battery-operated version cost 65 Reichsmarks; This was also the price for the VE 301 Dyn, introduced in 1938. There was also the VE 301 G for connection to the DC voltage networks that were still widespread at the time and the so-called all - current devices for DC / AC voltage VE 301 GW, VE 301 Dyn GW ( dynamic loudspeaker ) and DKE 38 (Deutscher Kleinempfänger), which came onto the market in 1938 at a price of 35 Reichsmarks.

Economic aspects

Volksempfänger, type VE 301 Dyn W (built from 1938 to 1941)
German small receiver, DKE 38 (built from 1938 to 1944)
Reference to the ban on listening to foreign stations that was included with every Volksempfänger when purchasing it

The people's receiver was one of the few products from a series of propaganda projects such as the KdF-Wagen , the German standard television receiver E 1 , the people's fridge or the people's apartment , which went into series production and was also produced in significant numbers. The comparatively low sales prices of the people's receivers should make it possible for everyone to listen to the radio, also in order to be accessible for Nazi propaganda . The manufacturing companies were originally very skeptical, as they feared that sales of the branded receivers that had previously been sold and which were at least twice as expensive would decline sharply.

The sales figures for the expensive branded devices did not rise, they stagnated. Since the industry worked with very small profit margins in the production of the Volksempfänger, which to a large extent depended on the price development of the tubes used, the economic consequences of the Volksempfänger remained ambivalent . On the one hand, some small broadcasting companies were unable to keep the price limits imposed by the state, so that several of these companies went bankrupt or were taken over by larger competitors. On the other hand, with the exception of a slight slowdown in 1935/36 , the number of radio participants rose sharply from four million in early 1932 to over twelve million in mid-1939. This development can be traced back to the introduction of the inexpensive entry-level models VE 301 and from 1938 of the "Deutscher Kleinempfänger" (DKE 38) - popularly also known as "Goebbelsschnauze". The special compound tube (two electrical systems in one flask) VCL11 was even developed for the DKE38 , with the help of which the price could be reduced to 35 RM. A VY2 acted as the rectifier tube in the DKE 38.

The Volksempfänger was presented on August 18 at the Great German Radio Exhibition in 1933 and the first 100,000 devices were sold during the exhibition. In total, several million copies of the Volksempfänger were sold in the various versions. Significant increases in the number of listeners were recorded in 1937 as a result of intensive listening by the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and from 1939 because of the outbreak of war.

Another important aspect of the NS broadcasting policy was that the mass distribution of the medium “broadcasting” with the help of the inexpensive “Volks-” or “Deutsche Kleinempfänger” gradually increased the number of fee-paying radio listeners in the Reich. At its peak in 1943, their number was around 16 million people who paid two Reichsmark fees per month. A smaller part of this fee income went to the Deutsche Reichspost, the rest went to the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG) and above all to the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda , which covered the lion's share of its budget with the fee income.

Propagandist Aspects

Distribution of 500 small receivers (DKE 38) in October 1938 on the occasion of Goebbels' 41st birthday in the Berliner Funkhaus by Gau propaganda leader Werner Wächter (right, with swastika armband )
1935: Shops close during a speech by Hitler.

The designation VE 301 arose from the abbreviation for VE Volksempfänger and the 301 as a reminder of 30 January 1933 the day of the seizure of power of Hitler . The cases of the VE 301 Dyn and the German small receiver DKE 38 bore the swastika emblem of the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft and the Großdeutscher Rundfunk on the front. The Volksempfänger was a technically very simple device for medium wave and long wave , initially called short and long wave. It should at least enable reception of the German broadcaster on long wave and one other program throughout the German Reich .

The legend that no foreign stations could be received with the people's receiver persists to this day. In fact, despite the further development of the reception technology, the low-performance audio circuit was retained for a long time, but for reasons of cost, cf. Audion at the time of the Third Reich . Reports from contemporary literature show that, depending on the location and time of day, the Volksempfänger could also receive foreign channels at least temporarily. The quality of the reception of the foreign broadcasters was, however, better with the more expensive competing products with superimposing receivers (“superhet”). This was especially possible at night, when the sky wave complements the ground wave and increases the range. For this reason, at the beginning of the Second World War, Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels enforced draconian threats of punishment up to the death penalty for receiving " enemy channels " - primarily the German BBC London program - in an ordinance on extraordinary radio measures .

The Volksempfänger became one of the most important propaganda instruments of the National Socialist rulers, in which Hitler's speeches were broadcast and after the fall of the Second World War, losses and defeats were reinterpreted as victories and the German people's willingness to sacrifice was evoked. However, the more the reality of bombing and high military losses, especially on the Eastern Front, no longer conformed to the content of the broadcast, the influence of the medium of broadcasting steadily decreased.

See also: Language of National Socialism

Technical aspects

Depending on the type, the people's receivers are designed for mains operation with alternating current, direct current or as combination devices, the so-called all-current devices. There were also some variants for battery operation.

The Volksempfänger of the VE301W model was equipped with three tubes : Triode REN904 as an audion with feedback , output tube RES164 and the power rectifier RGN354. The necessary sensitivity was achieved through the feedback in the Audion stage. The loudspeaker was a high-impedance cantilever chair with good efficiency but a moderate sound. The people's receivers are typical representatives of the single-circuit receivers from the straight-ahead receiver family .

In addition to a more sensitive HF tube, the VE 301 Dyn already contained an electrodynamic loudspeaker and, for the first time, an illuminated scale. A little earlier - namely in 1937 - the original model (VE 301) was slightly revised and then offered under the name VE 301 Wn (Wn for "new alternating current"). In contrast to the original model, this device did not have a cage coil, but a variably adjustable tuning coil. In addition, a better audio level (with the Pentode AF7), which improved the sensitivity, was built in. Outwardly, the device hardly changed. Only the antenna connections (3 × antenna, 1 × earth) were no longer on the side of the housing, but on the back of the device.

The people's receivers replaced the simple detector receivers with individual headphone reception, which were still very widespread at the time . It was not until a few years after the Second World War that most people's receivers were first replaced by the more powerful superimposition receivers and the emerging less- interference VHF radio and later by new transistor devices .

Other products / manufacturers

Working front receiver DAF1011

Devices that do not have the abbreviation VE 301 as a type designation are usually referred to as people's receivers , such as the German small receiver ( DKE 38 ). It is controversial whether these devices are rightly called people's receivers ; Community recipient should be the correct name. Some devices in the DKE series contained the VY2 tube as a half-wave rectifier and the VCL11 as an amplifier tube.

The working front receiver DAF1011 and the two Olympic suitcases (DOK36 and DOK37) are also so-called people's receivers. These devices are also designed as straight-ahead receivers , but technically more complex than so-called multi-circuit receivers.

Various blocking circuits and other antenna adapters and switches were available as accessories for the Volksempfänger. Usually just a long wire was used as a so-called long wire antenna or T antenna for the people's receivers.

With a splitter such as the DWt 52 and the changeover switch DDa 38, it was also possible to receive the wire radio with the people's receivers such as the VE 301 G.

After the so-called Anschluss of Austria , people's receivers were built there at Eumig , Hornyphon , Ingelen , Kapsch , Minerva and Radione , which were also driven out in the rest of the empire.

In the Generalgouvernement the German small receiver DKE was built by Derufa in Warsaw .


In the 1970s, the Volksempfänger was used in Pop Art works. A DKE 38 was shown on the cover of the album “ Radio-Aktivity ” by the band Kraftwerk . The American neodadaist Edward Kienholz used devices that were found at Berlin flea markets, some of which were covered with resin, in his series Volksempfänger , which was also seen several times in Germany.


  • Ansgar Diller: The People's Receiver. Propaganda and economic factor . In: Communications from the study group for radio and history 9/1983, pp. 140–157.
  • Michael P. Hensle: Broadcasting Crimes . Listening to "enemy broadcasts" during National Socialism. Metropol, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-936411-05-0 .
  • Hans-Jörg Koch: "Volksempfänger" and "Goebbels-Schnauze" for everyone, in: Ders .: Request concert. Popular music and propaganda on the radio of the Third Reich , Ares Verlag, Graz 2006, pp. 39–44, ISBN 3-902475-22-6
  • Wolfgang König: The people's receiver and the radio industry. A contribution to the relationship between economy and politics under National Socialism . In: Vierteljahreshefte für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 90/2003, pp. 269–289.
  • Wolfgang König: Myths about the Volksempfänger. Revisionist investigations into National Socialist broadcasting policy . In: Technikgeschichte 70/2003 , pp. 73-102.
  • Wolfgang König: Volkswagen, people's receiver, people's community. “People's Products” in the Third Reich: The Failure of a National Socialist Consumer Society. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn et al. 2004, ISBN 3-506-71733-2 .
  • Conrad F. Latour: Goebbels' "extraordinary broadcasting measures" 1939–1942 . In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 11/1963, pp. 418–435 ( PDF ).
  • Daniel Mühlenfeld: Joseph Goebbels and the basics of Nazi broadcasting policy . In: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft 54/2006, pp. 442–467.
  • Hans Sarkowicz: "Just don't get bored ..." The radio in the service of National Socialist propaganda. In: Bernd Heidenreich, Sönke Neitzel: Media in National Socialism. Schöningh, Paderborn 2010, ISBN 978-3-506-76710-3 , pp. 205-234.
  • Uta C. Schmidt: The people's receiver. Tabernacle of modern mass culture . In: Inge Marßolek, Adelheid von Saldern (Hrsg.): Radiozeiten. Domination, everyday life, society (1924–1960). Vlg. F. Berlin-Brandenburg, Potsdam 1999, ISBN 3-932981-44-8 , pp. 136-159.
  • Kilian JL Steiner: local receiver, public television and optaphone. Development of the German radio and television industry and the Loewe company 1923–1962. Klartext Vlg., Essen 2005, ISBN 3-89861-492-1 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Volksempfänger  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Volksempfänger  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang König: Volkswagen, Volksempfänger, Volksgemeinschaft, p. 40.
  2. 75 years of Volksempfänger: How Adolf Hitler penetrated every living room in: Die Welt from August 18, 2008.
  3. ^ Conrad F. Latour: Goebbels' "extraordinary broadcasting measures" 1939–1942 .
  4. See: Hans Sarkowicz: "Just don't get bored ..." The radio in the service of National Socialist propaganda .
  5. Description of accessories for the unit receivers , etc. In: Rainer Steinführ: Historie der Volksempfänger and other community receivers. September 22, 2019. From, accessed on October 16, 2019.
  6. Wired Communications (1924-1945). In: Communications in WW I and WW II. Walt Gromov's Radio Museum., accessed on October 16, 2019.
  7. ^ Community recipient 1933–1945. March 27, 2017. On, accessed on October 16, 2019. Quotation: “Community receiver”, also “Community product of the German radio factories”.
  8. Martina Kaden: Even great art started small . BZ . March 19, 2012. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved October 22, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. The Power of the Media . SchirnMag (magazine of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt ). Retrieved October 22, 2013.