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

2 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”

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