radio technology museum Königs-Wusterhausen, part 3, radio broadcast

After a brief history of the radio technology museum Königs-Wusterhausen on the “Funkerberg” (“broadcast hill”) and an overview on the impressive Dieselgenerator here now part 3 of the series. Part 3 deals a bit with the radio broadcasting itself and in particular with the role it played within my family.


The concrete broadcasting technology had a strong impact on the success of radio broadcasting itself. The museum documents this very lively and displays a lot of original technology.

So next to collections of vacuum tubes there are partially rather detailled documentations about particular devices, which had pushed technology forward.

Like a documentation about the cathode-beam relay, invented by von Lieben. The german text “Die Einführung der Lieben-Röhre revolutionierte das Funkwesen” translates as “The introduction of the cathode-beam relay revolutionized broadcasting”.

Here the text says “Transmission tube for big power” (1980-1990).

Radio life itself started rather humble. The first emissions were done by the technicians at “Funkerberg.” In fact they formed a little “orchester” which produced the music which was then transmitted.

A lot had to be improvised like here a microphone shielding with a bath tub.

A little dark corner covered with thick fabrics served as an improvised studio it displays now a photo and the instruments of the technicians.

Later on though performances and performance venues got more elaborate. Here the Funkerbergs performance hall which serves now as a general purpose culture hall (“Kultursaal.”)

My greatgrandfather Gustav Schellhase, father of Gerda played as a cellist in the Berlin broadcast orchester, as I was told. I haven’t yet seen any documents though and as one can see above he apparently did not only play the cello. If you know more about the musical life of Gustav Schellhase – please let me know.

Radio broadcasting included of course not only music performances but was able to serve political interests. In fact as already mentioned in part 1, radio broadcast was initially forbidden. During the Nazi reign the “Volksempfänger” played an incredible important role in the dissemination of Nazi propaganda. The museums exhibition documents the political role of broadcast. “Der Rundfunk als politisches Machtinstrument” translates to “Radio Broadcast as political power instrument”:

And so the museum has also a rather big collection of radios.

One of the bigger if not the biggest german producers of radios and radio technology has been the electrical engineering company Siemens which has still a rather big settling here in Berlin, which includes the architectural landmark “Wernerwerk.” There is even the locality “Siemensstadt” (“Siemenstown”). Both my grandmothers and both of my parents had worked for Siemens. I also worked there briefly as an intern and I think even my preschool might have originally belonged to Siemens. My father worked temporarily even directly in the “Radiowerk” (“radiofactory”).

In the above image you can see my grandmother Annemarie (on the left) on the occasion of her 25th anniversary for working for Siemens (if I remember correctly). People queue to congratulate her. The image was done in the late 50′s. As an anniversary present she received a Siemens radio with table (in the background). I still have the radio and the table. The radio needs some repair but it still works and has a magnificient sound.

Annemarie had been working as a secretary for rather high ranking executives of Siemens.
During WWII Siemens had a factory near Ausschwitz. Annemarie told me, that within the company there were quite some tensions about how to deal with the Nazi’s and that her boss had told her that he can’t tell her what exactly is happening with people in concentration camps but that “terrible things” happen there. She was never a member of the Nazi party but on the other hand she never engadged in open resistance. Due to her considerably high position she was one of the main income sources for the family, which included her mother, her two children (born during war time) and after her brother died in WWII she cared partially also for the five young children of her brother and his wive.

radio technology museum Königs-Wusterhausen, part 1
radio technology museum Königs-Wusterhausen, part 2, the Dieselgenerator

8 Responses to “radio technology museum Königs-Wusterhausen, part 3, radio broadcast”

  1. H. Asan Says:

    Please don’t take this as an offense but frankly your grandmothers facial profile looks like a caricature from “Der Stürmer”. Did she have problems due to that during the Nazi time?

  2. nad Says:

    Frankly I am not so sure which facial features you are concretely referring to. The pronounced nose? Do you think she looks jewish or non-jewish by the criteria as set in “Der Stürmer” ? Like if I look at this comparision in “Der Stürmer” it seems that the form of chin and forehead etc. also played a role. But in general although the Nazi’s put quite an effort into categorizing humans via external body features, like via anthropometrical studies this was -even by “Der Stürmer”-standards* apparently only seen as something as a supplement and/or workaround to genetic considerations. But since the Nazi’s didn’t have nowadays DNA sequencing methods at hand they based e.g. their decisions on who is “of german blood” (Deutschblütiger) or of “jewish blood” according to the Nuremberg Laws usually on the affiliation to a religious group.

    So in short – I don’t remember that my grandmother mentioned that she had problems due to her nose or so. Her brother put together a detailled ancestry map, which reaches back into the 18th century. The map seemed to have been quite an effort, because he had to get a stamp of every registry, where the corresponding ancestor was born which certified the affiliation to a christian church. And I think he didn’t do this because of physignomy problems, but because he wanted to marry. But even if there would have been problems – by this document he and Annemarie were clearly “of german blood”.

    *translation:
    “Der Fluch im Blut” : “Malediction in the blood”
    “Ein jedes Jüdchen wird ein Jud”: “Every jewish child grows into a jew”

  3. nad Says:

    I wrote:

    So in short – I don’t remember that my grandmother mentioned that she had problems due to her nose or so.

    .

    In fact sofar all what I remember from her accounts is that as a child on the occasion of “Kaisers Geburtstag” (the festivities around the birthday of Wilhelm second) she had to wear her hair open (usually her hair was in braids), because she had long golden blond curly hair like angels are often depicted with, moreover long golden blond curly hair had a special symbolic and political meaning*)

    She hated it, because the combing afterwards was an ordeal.

    *Since the Wikipedia article is in german, here a brief explanation. In the german wars against Napoleonic occupation Ferdinande von Schmettau wanted to follow the war fundraising call “Gold gab ich für Eisen” (“I donated gold for iron”). In that call Princess Marianne of Prussia asked in 1813 women to donate their jewelriy in exchange for an iron ring or brooch with this inscript. But since Ferdinande hat no gold, she cut off her blond hair and sold it for 2 Talers. The fundraising call “Gold gab ich für Eisen” was repeated for the occasion of the first world war.

    ->wikipedia image Ferdinande von Schmettau sacrifices her hair on the altar of the fatherland

  4. Bibi Says:

    In the german wars against Napoleonic occupation Ferdinande von Schmettau wanted to follow the war fundraising call “Gold gab ich für Eisen” (“I donated gold for iron”).

    Seriously: do you think this is an appropriate topic for a physicists blog? Apart from the fact that hobby-historians are usually rather blurring the past centuries than elucidating them, who the hell cares at all about napoleonic occupation?

  5. nad Says:

    I do think one can learn from history that is there are often events, which have parallels at other space-time points. That is certain dynamics are strongly related to ressources and population dynamics and cultural/technological development. Unfortunately this is as such not always very visible in historic texts. Like when I was in school we had around the 8th, 9th grade mainly european history as a topic, which seemed like an endless sequence of feudal fights and treaties. I was complaining back then to my teacher Ms. Krailler-Link (thats how I remember she was called) about that and asking why we are not provided with more information about the living conditions, rites, cultures etc. but I was told this is how history is supposed to be according to “Lehrplan”.

    The French–German enmity had played an important role in european history in the last centuries and the Napoleonic wars had played a key role in that, Wikipedia writes:

    The Napoleonic Wars, often fought in Germany and with Germans on both sides, as in the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig, also marked the beginning of what was explicitly called French–German hereditary enmity. Modern German nationalism was born in opposition to French domination under Napoleon. In the recasting of the map of Europe after Napoleon’s defeat, most of the German-speaking territories in the Rhineland adjoining France were put under the rule of Prussia and remainder of ones were ruled by Bavaria and Grand Duchy of Hesse.

    ->Napoleon at Brandenburg gate

    The Napoleonic wars and also the following Franco-Prussian war were part of a conflict that played a major role in WW I, Wikipedia writes:

    French determination to regain Alsace-Lorraine and fear of another Franco-German war, along with British apprehension about the balance of power, became factors in the causes of World War I.

    The enmity was officially terminated with the Élysée Treaty.

    By the way it is also that the Napoleonic wars or the Franco-Prussian war were not that far ago, at least there even exist an anecdote within my family from that time.

  6. forensics Says:

    So let’s hear the ancedote.

  7. nad Says:

    forensics wrote: “So let’s hear the ancedote.”

    OK here the story as even written up by a relative of me, who is now in his eighties. It is about a common relative called uncle Emil (the brother of his grandmother).
    Here my english translation:

    This uncle Emil by the way was always worthwhile to talk about. Having an extraordinary frame, he was over 1.90m tall and weighed about 200 kgs. A lot was talked about his physical strength, which he however didn’t so much invest into his work at his farm at Schwessin. He was considered to be the strongest farmer in all of eastern Pomerania and he ruled the fairground booths as a boxer and wrestler. To this the story about how his ancestors obtained their property in Schwessin fits well. It was in the war against Napoleon, when a group of cuirassiers (heavy cavalry) was captured by the French and were to be shot due to unlawful behaviour. The commander must have been a jokester, because he ordered the captives to undress completely. Than every captive was given a saber, with which they were supposed to kill themselves mutually. The cuirassiers took the sabers and the watching frenchmen, which were certainly in anticipation of the upcoming spectacle, were lost. For this apparently unique deed the surviving cuirassiers where distinguished and rewarded. In this way the grandfather of uncle Emil got his farm in Schwessin and his job in the surrounding prussian forests.

  8. forensics Says:

    “…he however didn’t so much invest into his work at his farm at Schwessin.”

    sounds like uncle Emils relatives were not so happy with his engagement in fairground booths.

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