Volksempfänger (German: [ˈfɔlks.ɛmˌpfɛŋɐ], "people's
receiver") was a range of radio receivers developed by engineer Otto
Griessing at the request of
Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.
The purpose of the Volksempfänger-program was to make radio reception
technology affordable to the general public.
Joseph Goebbels realized
the great propaganda potential of this relatively new medium and thus
considered widespread availability of receivers highly important.
3 Utility receiver
4 In popular culture
5 See also
8 External links
Volksempfänger VE301 model was presented on August
18, 1933 at the 10. Große Deutsche Funkausstellung in Berlin. The
VE301 was available at a readily affordable price of 76 German
Reichsmark (equivalent to two weeks' average salary), and a cheaper 35
Reichsmark model (which was even sold on an installment plan ), the
DKE38 (sometimes called Goebbels-Schnauze – "Goebbels' snout" – by
the general public) fitted with a multisection tube, was also later
produced, along with a series of other models under the
Volksempfänger, Gemeinschaftsempfänger, KdF (Kraft durch Freude),
DKE (Deutscher Kleinempfänger) and other brands.
1936 Nazi propaganda poster, promoting the use of the Volksempfänger.
The translated text reads, "All of
Germany hears the Führer with the
Volksempfänger was designed to be produced as cheaply as
possible, as a consequence they generally lacked shortwave bands and
did not follow the practice, common at the time, of marking the
approximate dial positions of major European stations on its tuning
scale. Only German and Austrian stations were marked  and cheaper
models only listed arbitrary numbers. Sensitivity was limited to
reduce production costs further, so long as the set could receive
Deutschlandsender and the local Reichssender it was considered
sensitive enough, although foreign stations could be received after
dark with an external antenna, particularly as stations such as the
BBC European service increased transmission power during the course of
Listening to foreign stations became a criminal offence in Nazi
Germany when the war began, while in some occupied territories, such
as Poland, all radio listening by non-German citizens was outlawed
(later in the war this prohibition was extended to a few other
occupied countries coupled with mass seizures of radio sets).
Penalties ranged from fines and confiscation of radios to,
particularly later in the war, sentencing to a concentration camp or
capital punishment. Nevertheless, such clandestine listening was
widespread in many
Nazi-occupied countries and (particularly later in
the war) in
Germany itself. The Germans also attempted radio jamming
of some enemy stations with limited success.
Much has been said about the efficiency of the
Volksempfänger as a
propaganda tool. Most famously, Hitler's architect and Minister for
Armaments and War Production, Albert Speer, said in his final speech
at the Nuremberg trials:
Hitler's dictatorship differed in one fundamental point from all its
predecessors in history. His was the first dictatorship in the present
period of modern technical development, a dictatorship which made the
complete use of all technical means for domination of its own country.
Through technical devices like the radio and loudspeaker, 80 million
people were deprived of independent thought. It was thereby possible
to subject them to the will of one man...
Between 1944 and 1945, Britain produced the Utility
Radio or "Civilian
Receiver". Unlike the Volksempfänger, the Utility
Radio was produced
primarily to remedy a shortage of consumer radio sets caused by the
British radio industry's switch from civilian to military radio
production. These Utility Radios followed a standardized and
government approved design, and were built by a consortium of
manufacturers using standard components.
In popular culture
The album Radio-Activity, released in 1975, by German electronic music
Kraftwerk prominently features a Volksempfänger, of the DKE
brand (model 38), on its cover.
German band Welle: Erdball has also produced a song entitled
Volksempfänger VE-301, which first appeared on their Die Wunderwelt
der Technik album of 2002.
While living in Berlin in the 1970s, the American artist Edward
Kienholz produced a series of works entitled 'Volksempfänger', using
old radios, which at the time could be purchased cheaply at Berlin
flea markets, a consequence of the large numbers that had been
produced in the pre-war years.
Freedom of information
^ "VE301" is an abbreviation where the "VE" stands for
"Volksempfänger" and the "301" refers to the date of 30 January 1933
– the day of the Machtergreifung.
^ Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks; Andrew D. Evans; William Bruce Wheeler;
Julius Ruff (1 January 2014). Discovering the Western Past, Volume II:
Since 1500. Cengage Learning. pp. 350–.
^ Chas E. Miller (2000). Valve
Radio and Audio Repair Handbook.
Newnes. pp. 144–. ISBN 978-0-7506-3995-8.
Diller, Ansgar (1983). "Der Volksempfänger. Propaganda- und
Wirtschaftsfaktor". Mitteilungen des Studienkreises Rundfunk und
Geschichte. 9: 140–157. (in German)
Hensle, Michael P. (2003). Rundfunkverbrechen. Das Hören von
"Feindsendern" im Nationalsozialismus. Berlin: Metropol.
ISBN 3-936411-05-0. (in German)
König, Wolfgang (2003). "Der
Volksempfänger und die Radioindustrie.
Ein Beitrag zum Verhältnis von Wirtschaft und Politik im
Nationalsozialismus". Vierteljahreshefte für Sozial- und
Wirtschaftsgeschichte. 90: 269–289. (in German)
König, Wolfgang (2003). "Mythen um den Volksempfänger.
Revisionistische Untersuchungen zur nationalsozialistischen
Rundfunkpolitik". Technikgeschichte. 70: 73–102. (in German)
König, Wolfgang (2004). Volkswagen, Volksempfänger,
Volksgemeinschaft. "Volksprodukte" im Dritten Reich: Vom Scheitern
einer nationalsozialistischen Konsumgesellschaft (in German).
Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh. ISBN 3-506-71733-2.
Latour, Conrad F. (1963). "Goebbels' "außerordentliche
Rundfunkmaßnahmen" 1939–1942". Vierteljahrshefte für
Zeitgeschichte. 11: 418–435. (in German)
Mühlenfeld, Daniel (2006). "
Joseph Goebbels und die Grundlagen der
NS-Rundfunkpolitik". Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft. 54:
442–467. (in German)
Schmidt, Uta C. (1999). "Der Volksempfänger. Tabernakel moderner
Massenkultur". In Marßolek, Inge; Saldern, Adelheid von. Radiozeiten.
Herrschaft, Alltag, Gesellschaft (1924–1960). Potsdam: Vlg. f.
Berlin-Brandenburg. pp. 136–159. ISBN 3-932981-44-8.
Steiner, Kilian J. L. (2005). Ortsempfänger, Volksfernseher und
Optaphon. Entwicklung der deutschen Radio- und Fernsehindustrie und
das Unternehmen Loewe 1923–1962. Essen: Klartext Vlg.
ISBN 3-89861-492-1. (in German)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Volksempfänger.
Volksempfänger schematics, various models
Transdiffusion Radiomusications "Hitlers Radio"
Volksempfängers, various models, pictures "VE 301, DKE38, DAF 1011"
Gray and Black
Nazi Germany Extensively
illustrated paper describes the
Volksempfänger in the context of
British attempts to penetrate Germany