German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: This page provides Chapter 4 of Eugen Hadamovsky’s book on the principles on Nazi propaganda. He had a particular interest in radio, and made this the longest chapter in the book.

For more details, see the table of contents page.

The source: Eugen Hadamovsky, Propaganda und nationale Macht: Die Organisation der öffentlichen Meinung für die nationale Politik (Oldenburg: Gerhard Stalling, 1933).

Propaganda and National Power:

The Organization of Public Opinion for National Politics

by Eugen Hadamovsky

Chapter 4


Radio is the most powerful instrument
that technology has ever put in the hands of the government.
— Mussolini —

Individualism, Collectivism, or Something Else?

The nationalization of the broad masses is propaganda’s mission. It requires the cultivated, single-minded, systematic, and unified use of all means of public opinion. The following pages are devoted to the methods of accomplishing this. It will be necessary to discuss propaganda’s basic aims as well as its methods. By itself propaganda technique is useless. It can be a cold routine good for inventing detergent advertisements or writing outwardly clever books and theories. In real life, however, such propaganda techniques are merely amusing. Any worker can easily toss them aside because they are entirely ineffective. We must clearly understand this fact:

A propaganda technique is only a means to an end. In this it resembles diplomacy.

A clear goal is a requirement. Without a clear, close to life goal that deals with every necessity there are no results, least of all in propaganda and public opinion, where the laws of life are stronger than in the abstract sciences.

The goal is not to be confused with the content or missions of propaganda. The content can change to meet the day’s tactical situations. The mission is the nationalization of the masses. The goal, however, cannot be designated with a general slogan or an arbitrary form. It should be concrete. It should not be a rather fixed and fanciful point in a program, but rather it should create a reality.

False, random, or fanciful goals contain an error that, despite the use of clever techniques, leads to exhaustion, discouragement, and hostility rather than agreement. All reactionary governments err here. They are always deceived as to the effectiveness of their well intentioned national programs, and have in propaganda taken only the first step in creative language.

Such well-meaning methods of nationalization led to the shipwreck of Imperial Germany and made our propaganda have effects opposite from those intended. Propaganda is more than using words. As we have already noted, the union of propaganda and power is organized power. We must be clear that it is more than method. Propaganda is a function of life, and life cannot be deceived. The more lively and successful propaganda is, the more certain one may be that it is realistic and healthy. The unified use of all public means, radio, the press, news agencies, cultural institutions, etc., is necessary if the nation is to survive. However, aimlessness or false goals will help the opposing nation-destroying forces to victory.

In which way shall our propaganda win the masses for the nation? Do we want to promise and grant everyone “golden freedom” (after the manner of liberalism) and appeal to enlightened self-interest to strengthen the nation, expecting and anticipating the voluntary use of property and lives for it? Or shall we elevate the masses as the highest gods after the fashion of the Russian apostles of Marxism? They entirely subordinate the individual or single personality, and despise, persecute, and root out every living element of personality to encourage the growth of collectivism that knows no personality. Do we have to be children of liberal individualism or prophets of Bolshevist collectivism, or is there perhaps another way> The old Prussian state had a hundred thousand trained, zealous, and loyal officials. Was it individualistic? Or a formless collective?

Was the German army a spineless herd of slaves as the enemy maintained, driven into the enemy only by drunken officers and generals, unscrupulous individuals and powerful men? Or was it perhaps a Bolshevist commune in which everything belonged to everyone and in which each might command the other in a total triumph of the masses? If one considers the sharpness of the contrast he will realize that the Prussian official and the German soldier and officer were not individualistic, nor were they supporters or members of a collective. Rather they possessed their own hierarchical structure. They built a state for themselves that was an organized community of a certain type.

We see collectivism as an enormous arrogance on the part of the masses that pulls down everything higher than the level of the lowest and most common; and we see individualism as the reckless display of personality to the cost and hurt of the general populace.

Our type is incompatible with both.

Ours is the Führer model of a disciplined personality, consciously and racially based. (The administrative type is the Prussian official; the artistic case is the pre-Raphael painters; and the religious example is the Catholic priest.)

The type is not a mass of people having an effect through terror, as is a collective, rather it is a higher community. The community is indeed a part of the masses and remains bound to them. At the same time, however, our type sharply and clearly becomes the model and ideal of the masses by virtue of its superior and practical virtues and its self-confidence. The German soldier has been a model for the entire nation, as has the loyal Prussian official. His position seemed important to everyone despite its meager remuneration and rigorous training period. No one impeached his honor.

The experiences of a World War and a revolution did not disprove the value of our army as an arsenal of weapons and soldiers, rather they repudiated Prussian militarism, the guiding idea which the German soldiers and officers had created. Those events demonstrated more clearly against the dutiful Prussian officials who served the state but nothing else. Because Prussian militarism and Prussian officialdom were open to attack from both inside and outside, and because both forms of life lacked political leadership, both were destroyed.

Life, which allows no systematic repetition, will not allow us to re-establish the old forms. Neither the apolitical solider nor the apolitical official is the type which can preserve and protect our fatherland from the internal and external storms of the twentieth century.

Our life is politics.

Our task today is to create a new political type who, as soldier or politician, will be equal to the tasks of the present and the future, possessing unfailing political instinct.

If this political type is to preserve the existence of our people and our culture in the future, it is obvious that all other goals of public life must be subordinated to this one goal. Thus, the principle of creating this type becomes the guiding idea not only for the training of politicians, but also for the entire nation. We know that times of entirely individualistic expression in the arts, religion, philosophy, and science leave no traces. The creation of a type is the great accomplishment in every area.

Originality of the Radio?

Every means that is available today to influence public opinion has already served varied goals. The French Revolution preached and created absolute individualism through the press and leaflets as well as through schools and educational institutions. Bolshevist Russia set about the opposite with the means of public opinion, and consequently bred collectivism. No one seriously disputes the fact that words, leaflets, newspapers and brochures, books, pictures, and music are able to serve any aim.

The radio today has no tradition or history, no comfortable model of past experience. Only there do theoretician and expert contend to the possibilities and limits of its use, maintaining that the technical characteristics of radio places certain narrow limits on it, limits which are not present with other means of public opinion. Strangely enough, they come to quite opposing conclusions, depending on which side they write for.

We have a four hundred year press tradition, but no one thinks it necessary to bring newspaper readers together in groups or associations. The readers would have little interest in that. But there are probably a large number of reading circles, discussion and promotional evenings, etc.. The clever Ullstein, Mouse, and Schorl publishing companies, for example, organized regular discussion and promotional evenings in large German cities, to which readers who subscribed were admitted.

They resembled the cultural and technical evenings organized by the radio corporations. The level and intentions of these evenings becomes sufficiently clear through the Oilstone slogan “Bridget buy Oilstone patterns,” or through the advertising slogan “Become a radio listener.” Such advertising events have nothing at all to do with the development of groups that result from the needs of the broad masses.

Such a need does apparently exist among radio listeners. When the radio was first officially licensed in the fall of 1923, the listeners were all amateurs. They joined together in organizations, clubs, and groups. In the first years one could explain that as a result of the need for exchange of technical information. The time of the amateur, however, is long past. Today we have 100,000 amateur or short wave operators, but about 22 million radio listeners. In spite of that, the formation of radio associations and clubs, a development of the earliest period, has not ceased but is rather stronger than ever before. The largest and most important organizations have been founded within the past five years.

Their appearance has complicated the entire radio scene. While some saw an unfortunate indication that free individualistic development was being hampered, others found confirmation of their theory that the radio must inevitably lead to collectivism.

Today radio is a child of ten. It is understandable that the judgments of outsiders as well as of experts should be uncertain, indeed contradictory, regarding such a recent phenomenon. Everything in radio, except the technical aspects, has been learned the hard way by men who originally came from the theater, the stage, the concert hall and lecture room, from literature, the press, and administration. The present nature of radio developed under their leadership, as did its accompanying organization. Valiant attempts have led to at least some partial successes, but often to failures as well. In general the leadership of this new and still unfamiliar weapons has been fumbling, and here and there all too slick. New attempts have to be made. The problem must perhaps be tackled in an entirely different way. The struggles of a generation, through argument and counterargument, will establish the style and form of classical radio.

If someone with a year or two of experience in radio wants to call himself an “expert,” one should not refuse him because there are no educated people in the field at a level consistent with the idea of Germanic thoroughness. Otherwise, could anyone be called an “expert” in radio?

We do not want to operate with concepts which are generally accepted and used to judge dramatic directing or a theater play, concepts which are not applicable to the radio. Leasing’s Liken and his theory of the unity of place, time, and action do not always apply to the radio. One must start from scratch, without previous assumptions, and be guided only by the force of new realities. They must be understood. One must see the whole, not merely a special area, and be on guard against rash theories. Theories are weak as everyone knows. They risk being half-baked, especially when made hastily.

In the works published in cooperation with the Reich Radio Company, general theoretical principles are explained. Because of the fact that we have only sound broadcasting today, some think that radio is unrealistic. Such observations equate the real with the visual, a rather strange piece of dialectics. Certainly an electric bullet that flies through our head or a cannon shot hate strikes our ears is as real as a picture that we can perceive only with our eyes. The idea that radio eliminates realism leads to the dangerous fallacy that radio has to operate on a somewhat abstract plane.

Some also believe that crude sensationalism must be avoided. If we would accept that as a guiding principle in radio programming, we would rob the radio of its most important and vigorous element. One has only to think of the deep effect of an infectious mass meeting with all its noise, tumult, and excitement, and of what the foregoing principle would set in their place! The identification of the real with the visual is merely theoretical; the denial of real effect from nonvisual events is untenable.

The real effect of a word or sound carried by radio is much deeper than that, say of a newspaper or other piece of writing that must be interpreted before it is understood. Radio broadcasting works directly, without that bridge of thought, and has, therefore, greater effectiveness than the printed page. This is common knowledge. Everyone knows that our most important sense, after vision, is hearing. (“I’m all ears.”)

One should not engage in theoretical battles as to the real effectiveness of radio if he does not wish to close his eyes to its plain effect for the sake of aesthetic principles. One must still, however, consider the question as to whether the use of this means of public opinion is in some sense limited.

Some believe, for example, that a strong individualistic effect must be attributed to the radio. They think that the word of the speaker arouses ideas and therefore mental currents in the hearer. These supposedly depend on the intellectual ideas of the hearer. The general effect of radio is a result of that. The radio probably has a superficial effect on the masses and it may well satisfy a mass need, but it still stands apart from the masses. This school concludes that radio’s effect is individualistic in the deepest sense; that is, radio leads to individual rather than community experience.

This erroneous contrast between a superficial mass effect and a deep individual effect leads one to suspect that, if one observes the real effect of radio, he will reach a quite different conclusion.

If one thinks that radio must lead to individual experience because its effect depends on the individual ideas of the hearer, he has made his first mistake. The radio transmits sound and word. Both are decided upon by a creative artist, not the hearer. The musical form is no doubt one that allows the listener great freedom of experience, especially when no other distractions divert his attention from the loudspeaker or headphone. After loosening the intellectual and rational bonds and restraints, music leads the listener to a realm of free fantasy and rhythmic elation. The individual feelings of the hearer are however directed and limited by the art form itself. One does not experience Negro jazz in the same way as a Beethoven symphony. The subconscious potentialities of race and blood are deeply influenced by music. A musical work includes or hastens the awakening, development, or deterioration of these potentialities, but it can never lead to unrestrained individual feelings, even when transmitted by the radio.

The spoken word allows the listener much less freedom of thought. The word itself probably changes its meaning and conceptual force continually. Like a dew drop, it takes on all colors, even improbable ones. Taken out of context by an enemy, it may have an opposite meaning. One thinks of the gulf separating the meanings which, for example, the word “property” has depending on whether it is spoken by a businessman or a worker, or of words like “rent,” “capital,” and “religion.” From these examples, one can understand how the moral and intellectual power of words varies and changes with each new form, with each new context. The last named factors also, show, however, that narrow limits exist for this variety and change. The proper construction of a sentence or speech requires presuppositions that must necessarily lead to fixed conclusions (logic).

We have therefore proven that both musical and spoken programs on the radio neither can nor must lead to arbitrary and entirely individualistic ideas in the listener. The opposite is true. The radio itself does not determine the effect, but rather what is transmitted.

Thus the claim that radio has an inevitable collectivistic effect is also rejected. It always depends on the artistic and creative way in which the form is used. Those who want individualism can encourage it through the radio. Those who want collectivism. or who think some other task necessary, also have the freedom of the form and means.

The Political Type as a Goal

The question is no longer one of where the essential nature of the radio must lead, but rather it can be replaced by asking to what ends it should lead.

The opposing individualistic and collectivistic types are, as it were, vertexes of an equilateral triangle. Each is incompatible and irreconcilable with the other. Only the most innocent liberal could believe that this could be smoothed over by compromise. That is impossible. One can only make a definite choice.

No one can defend general individualization or collectivization. Both leave men and masses rootless and without dignity, and rob them of the strength as well as the capacity for action. Neither the rootless intellect nor the apathetic masses can ensure the continued existence of the nation and the life of the community; that requires the construction of an army of model leaders and subordinates, that is, a political type that will penetrate and lead the entire nation.

“Public life,” according to Wolf Zeller, “was formerly founded on personal leadership and local groups. This has been atomized and destroyed by modern developments. It can be restored again to all regions and peoples by the radio. The creative personalities must of course be typical, must be identical with the hearer, with the times and with that on which the community agrees. They must not teach or persuade, but must rather act as a belief or a worldview acts. They must embody and personify this impressively in their bearing, and that requires a worldview.”

The radio, which is supported by all and which is politically and culturally connected with everything, should serve the tasks of the entire nation. It is not an instrument to arouse collective mass psychosis, nor is it to be used for intellectual acrobatics. It should not be a substitute for other means of information to be used by specialists, sectarians, and outcasts. The esoteric thrives in the quiet seclusion of a like-minded circle, and is thus unsuited to the radio.

The radio can work like a newspaper, but with more immediacy, versatility, depth, and impressiveness as a result of the aesthetic element inherent in it. Newspapers and radio speak the language of the people. Our times have already seized and transformed the type of the German people through powerful storms of life as well as movements. The confusing picture of four thousand German newspapers is, for example, only a Fata Morgana of the old individualistic freedom and splendor. In reality, the power of a few large concerns with clearly fixed aims is behind this appearance — the middle class nationalist or middle class democratic newspaper readers, the National Socialist and Marxist leaders, etc. The German man however has yet to emerge from the gap that separates these types.

For the first time in history, radio gives us the chance to reach millions of people with daily and hourly influences. The old and young, workers, farmers, soldiers, and officers, men and women, sit before the apparatus, listening. Gathered quietly during a leisure hour are those from the clean farmhouses of Schleswig-Hollstein, in mountain villages of Bavaria and the Austrian Alps, in fishing huts along the coast from Friesland to Memmel, in German villages along the Volga and in Swabian households in Chicago. The loudspeaker resounds over sports fields, squares, streets, and public places in large cities, and in factories and barracks.

An entire people listens.

What statesman would want a liberal individualism that endangers the unity of national thought and desire, things more precious than gold? Freedom of choice ends here not for reasons inherent in radio, but for reasons of responsibility to the nation and community. Their life is more important than the freedom of the individual.

Radio shall serve this life. Its mission is the formation of national will. Its means are entirely determined from now on. Its mission can only be by the conscious construction of a political type which will personify and safeguard the unity and strength of the nation.

These certainly are tasks which have not until now troubled public opinion and radio criticism. Aesthetics stood in the foreground. Problems of style, program format, and effect were talked of and discussed. No one, however, knew how to set a goal. They paid no attention to the instinct of the masses. On the radio, they were without the intellectual basis necessary to understand mass movements, unification, and the creation of a type. Types do not spring up from a desk, but rather they grow out of the masses. The masses built up listener organizations, powerful factors that soon united men of certain views, of a certain political type. The strongest binding force was that feeling of identity that they wanted to express over the radio or with which they wanted to defend themselves against foreign influences on the radio.

The intellectual opponents of radio organizations have not generally understood the real significance of these proceedings. They mostly raised questions of taste, or intellectual arguments. Some see the same unfruitfulness in listener organizations as, for example, in parliament. The most trivial matters are discussed, the most important shouted to death. It moreover appears that the intellectual circle stays away from such gatherings and that only the shouters and know-it-alls supporting the shallowest programs ask to speak. Thus, the listener organizations can only disturb the task of program directing. The radio magazines (it is said) must carefully weigh the listener interests with radio’s tasks and capacities. This is the proper manner in which listener organizations, in cooperation with radio magazines, should operate.

Truth and falsehood are mixed in these views. One can certainly have views on questions of programming and taste. The agreement of listeners on such things is naturally impossible; people will always disagree on matters of taste.

The question, however, is not one of taste, but rather something more important, namely the unity of spirit and nation. The task of listener organizations is not to be a parliament of programming or taste. No one today behaves that way. The belief that radio magazines are a substitute for listener organizations rests as much on a typical journalistic overestimation of the newspaper as on an ignorance of modern organizational methods.

It would be quite ridiculous to vote at a general meeting whether there should be more or less music in radio programs, more or less seriousness, more or less cheerfulness, more or less dance music, jazz, Wagnerian operas, military marches, or popular music. The members would be unable to agree on any of these motions and would probably agree in the end to disband their organization out of frustration with their own chatter. At first no one made such an attempt, thus proving that with large organizations, the only ones having a right to exist, practice is always sounder than theory.

Instead of such parliamentarianism, programming boards or several gifted individuals enjoying the confidence of the listeners work at the top of the larger organizations. In so far as they have political instinct, they have long since outgrown mere questions of taste. If today the so-called intellectual circle is a long way from the top, especially on the national level, it is certainly not the fault of the listener organizations. The native intellectual class of our fatherland has already failed in the propaganda, execution, and conclusion of the World War. They forgot not only the old saying of Luther, that one should walk firmly and keep talking, but also the wisdom of the Olympian Goethe whom they themselves admired. They enclosed themselves in their own little glass world which then, like the Homunculus’s vial of light, was shattered in the storms our nation underwent.

All of these honest, sincere, and entirely isolated intellectuals had in the end was the paper millions of inflation. Hopefully, the German mind has learned for all time that intellect is unthinkable without strength. It may be that the masses need the intellect as leader and illuminator, but it is equally certain that the spirit of the masses cannot be lacking as the echo and initial source of its strength. It is incorrect to understand Nietzsche’s “will to power” in this way?

The intellectual class has to lead the nation (and itself) to a desire for duty in order to guarantee that nothing worse usurps leadership. Certainly, he who wants to be a leader in Germanic northern Europe must not want to enthrone himself as a satrap over the people.

Oriental aloofness is in general unsuited to our race. It is especially bad when found in intellectuals. If the intellectuals are too refined to lead the masses, the masses will not be stupid enough to follow those aloof minds. The result is starvation of the intellectual, and sometimes the destruction of the masses to the profit of foreign exploiters.

One is entirely wrong if he thinks that the masses can be led by purely intellectual means, through radio speeches delivered from a desk, or through newspaper articles and the like. An instrument like the radio which has a huge circle of listeners and whose performers have no direct contact with their audience during their performance, absolutely requires the establishment of communication between those who want to have an effect and those who are to be affected. If radio magazines are suggested as a means of doing this, the answer is that they establish no more direct contact than does the radio. Both are in the same position with respect to the masses. They have only an indirect effect. One should not overestimate the effect of the press in these matters. It in general decreases as the influence of living organizations increases. Proof of this is in the victory of Mussolini and the Fascist organization and party over the unorganized Italian liberalism which controlled the entire and extensive press, or in the victory of Lenin over Kerensky, who controlled the entire Russian press with Entente money. And in Germany, the National Socialist movement under Hitler’s leadership won its battle against the entire press.

The newspaper concerns were unable to stem or break the powerfully rising movement. The opposition of four thousand German newspapers, having the entire nation as their readership, was indeed a powerful stimulus for the Hitler movement to establish its own press and to take up the battle against general ostricization by means of the press. In the fourteen years of growth, the hundred National Socialist newspapers and magazines that emerged certainly contributed to the success of the movement, but not decisively so.

The success came as a result of living propaganda and organization. The printed page is unable to excite or control mass impulses. If one calls the press a great power, as does the liberal slogan has it, one must realize that its star is fading. More correctly, perhaps, one should realize that it does not generally depend on its own power but it is rather a means and tool of a power, namely financial and industrial liberalism, that has secretly controlled public opinion for one hundred and fifty years in this comfortable way.

What happens when the effect of these tools ceases is shown in the political developments in Italy, Russia, and Germany, as well as in the erroneous conceptions the general press has had in the face of these proceedings. The press breaks down when it has to fight the power of a living organization. It is therefore only a weapon of limited tactical value in the struggle with such an organization.

It is no different with radio magazines and organizations of listeners. It should be added to this account of the development of radio organizations that they have most often established their own radio magazines to support their work. That smart newspaper publishers have attempted to go the opposite direction by establishing dummy organizations as fronts for their magazines is but further proof of the primary importance of organizations, not the opposite. These publishers have attempted to make the most of the organizational need of radio listeners for their businesses. We will later consider the psychological foundations for the establishment of radio organizations, and will end this section with the comment that radio needs magazines as well as listener organizations.

The radio magazines are necessary for news and technical information (programming).

The organizations establish contact between the radio and the masses.

Without organization, there is only irregular contact, as for example the thousands of enthusiastic or indignant letters from listeners that can never be taken as a guide to the actual state of public opinion. Once organized contact eliminates the danger of individual selfishness or collective stupidity, radio can being creating a type.

The Radio Corporation

Today Germany has about a thousand local and amateur radio organizations. About 75% are united in about three dozen large organizations, some of which cover the entire nation. Altogether about one million German radio listeners are organized; that is, about 22% of all known radio owners. A comparison with political parties, which have barely 10% of the voters as members, shows how high this figure is. Regardless of what is said in theoretical discussions, this figure persuasively shows that there is a living need for organization among listeners. We need only consider the development or foundation of some important listener organizations.

The Workers Radio Association of Germany [Arbeiter-Radiobund Deutschlands, the Arabu], founded in spring 1924, sees its task to be in the technical area as well as in assisting its poorer members and in expressing its Marxist tendencies in the cultural and political aspects of radio.

Segall says this about its goals: “Two requirements are the total conversion of the radio to a government monopoly and the remodeling of cultural advisory boards which should affirm the ideas of leading politicians.”

The association was composed of 246 local groups in 1929, of which 227 engaged in radio assistance and 174 in technical aid. The first magazine, Workers’ Radio [Arbeiterfunk], appeared sometime after its foundation in August 1924. Today it appears as People’s Radio [Volksfunk].

The association is a member of the Workers Radio Internationale [Arbeiter-Radio-Internationale].

As the politics of the KPD [Communist Party of Germany] and the SPD [Socialist Party of Germany] diverged more and more, a communist opposition group developed in June of 1929 within the association. It succeeded, and established a new organization, the entirely communist Free Radio Association of Germany [Freien Radiobund Deutschlands]. This association published the Workers Station [Arbeitersender] as soon as it had sufficient members and a secure financial base.

The German Radio Technical Federation [Deutsche Funktechnische Verband e.V.], which is closely related to the Workers Radio Association, was founded in 1925 as the successor to the German radio cartel. It includes over 500 societies scattered about the Reich. Furthermore, the Radio Amateur Association [Bastlerbund Sendung} was founded on 20 February 1927 by about 3,000 people in Berlin’s Great Theater. It has about 100 local groups in Germany.

On the national level, the Federation of German Radio Participants [Reichsverband Deutscher Rundfunkteilnehmer] was founded on 12 August 1930 with the leadership and participation of the National Socialists, the German Nationalists, and the military federations like the Stahlhelm and others. After several months, it established its own magazine for the entire country, the weekly German Broadcaster [Der Deutsche Sender].

Its program demanded “the financial independence of radio from the Postal Ministry, the exemption and reduction of radio fees for the unemployed and underpaid, the elimination of shallow intellectual programming from the radio, and the exclusive employment of German artists and intellectuals.” It also demanded “laws regarding the total structure and improvement of radio.”

The Federation of German Radio Participants may further be the first radio federation that openly came out against nonpolitical radio, and clearly said: “We demand the immediate and unlimited politicization of the radio in the service of the German freedom movement.”

About a year after its establishment, the National Socialists undertook a drive within the federation and established about 3,000 radio listening rooms around the entire nation which were united under the leadership of radio wardens in the National Socialist Federation [Verbandsgruppe Nationalsozialisten].

The listening rooms developed lively political and propaganda activity in most areas. They were especially interested in technical service [Technische Dienst], technical aid [Funkhilfe], interference locating [Störsuche], and short wave communication, either independently or in cooperation with other local organizations.

This organization succeeded in gaining dominant influence in the Federation between June and December of 1931, and on 19 December 1931, it overthrew the German Nationalist board during a stormy membership meeting at the Hotel Prinz Albrecht in Berlin. Again, the superiority or organization to the press was clearly demonstrated. The official radio magazine of the Federation was completely under German Nationalist control. Not once was it allowed to mention the existence of the National Socialist Federation, founded six months previously, to its readers. But by October the National Socialists had become so strong that they published a monthly propaganda magazine for their members (Let the Radio be German [Deutsch der Rundfunk]).

When on 19 March 1932 a second membership meeting of the Federation finally expelled the boar members of the German Nationalists and the Stahlhelm, they established two competing organizations, the Association of Nationalist Radio Listeners [Bund Nationaler Rundfunkhörer] and the Union of Stahlhelm Radio Listeners [Vereinung der Stahlhelmfunkhörer], along with the magazines National Radio [Nationalfunk] and The Stahlhelm Broadcaster [Der Stahlhelmsender]. The total effect was minimal. The German Nationalists had little organizational strength, and unlike the Federation of German Radio Participants that published a weekly and a monthly, the two magazines appeared to be similar and competing.

One might also consider the insistent evangelical or Catholic radio listening groups as well as the politically or culturally neutral federations and federations of German expatriates. These are widespread.

The Evangelical Union for Radio [Evangelische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rundfunk] under Hinderer’s leadership works in this manner: “In the same way as the radio transmitter reached the entire country by establishing provincial transmitters, the greater part of the evangelical press federations were established in individual provinces. During the first year of their existence, the novel problem of radio came to the foreground. The organizational consolidation of these offices was intentionally delayed until the foundation for a truly fruitful work could be laid. This consolidation occurred in 1927. The Evangelical Union for Radio is controlled by the Evangelical Press Federation of Germany. At present the tightly unified society is composed of 23 state and provincial offices. It gathers biannually for meetings, publishes monthly magazines, and engages in correspondence.”

The Evangelical Union for Radio (whose magazine is The Radio Listener [Der Rundfunkhörer] became a member of the International Evangelical Union for Radio [Internationalen Evangelischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rundfunk] in 1928. That organization is located in Berlin.

The Radio Union of German Catholics [Rundfunkgemeinarbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Katholiken] is a part of the Central Office for German Catholic Federations [Zentralbildungsausschuss der katholischen Verbände Deutschlands] under Marschall’s leadership. It sees its tasks as the transmission “by radio of our movement and work, and the provision of qualified persons from our circle for the various programs. We are ready to cooperate…”

The society also became associated with the Bureau catholique internationale de la radiophone at the 1928 Catholic exposition in Pressa.

Furthermore, nearly all the German states have local federations.

There are also a goodly number of federations which can only be spoken of as fraudulent.

A Cologne federation came in conflict with the National Socialist radio wardens at the beginning of 1932, was broken up, and declared bankruptcy.

The Marxist federations and the National Socialist Federation of German Radio Participants have absorbed or driven into dissolution countless small clubs and groups. Today, the apolitical, purely economic or technical federations are especially beginning to seek union. The German Radio Technical Federation [Deutsche Funktechnische Verband] and the Amateur Radio Federation [Bastlerbund der Sendung] merged with the Workers Radio Association (Social Democratic), the Federation of German Engineers [Verband Deutscher Radioingenieure] with the Federation of German Radio Participants.

All this clearly shows that listener organizations must take political instincts and vital questions as a basis, just as the mass struggle movements must. What appears to happen is that the number of listener federations gradually decreases, leaving room for large and essentially political groups. This is the same phenomenon we have witnessed in the history of German political parties. In 1919, forty-eight parties appeared on the ballot. By the Reichstag election in 1933, forty-four had either disappeared or sunk into insignificance. As is well known, only the National Socialists, Social Democrats, Centrists, and German Nationalists had factions, that is, more than fifteen seats.

If one wants to understand the psychological reasons behind the spontaneous growth of listener organizations to at least some extent, he must consider the practical experiences and lessons of a few of the successful and active people in this area. As long as the technical element in radio was primary and the programming secondary, the technicians and amateurs organized to exchange their experiences. There were about 9,900 radio listeners in 1924. The German radio industry has often gratefully acknowledged that many fruitful suggestions and many successful developments came from the amateur radio movement. As the initial difficulties were overcome and the transmissions gradually attained a certain artistic quality, the true radio listener appeared. By 1925, there were 789,000 of them. The fee was reduced from sixty marks per year to two marks per month, and radio became the property of the entire nation during a decade of stormy growth. The radio listeners now began to organize as the technicians had previously done. In place, however, of a society consisting of a limited elite of a few hundred men who understood radio techniques, they began to build rapidly a genuine mass organization from the listenership.

The technical and legal ignorance of the listeners regarding the unfamiliar apparatus was naturally one of the reasons that made unification seem advisable. The listener associations developed as interest groups. Nearly all the prospectuses and by-laws of the associations made references to technical and legal aid for the membership — assistance in locating interference, technical assistance, and radio protection. Technical assistance is especially likely to remain important and valuable to the listener for a long time to come because of the imperfections in the new discovery and the ever present disturbances that are difficult to eliminate under today’s radio conditions. As long as the state fails to establish radio protection laws to protect the whole and to protect this important means of communication, the radio federations will have the task of attempting to resolve these problems by their own means and influences in public and private.

Another very important problem is at the center of the discussions and demands of the federations. It often results in the most remarkable distortions. Pompous words are spoken about German, cosmopolitan, Nationalist, Marxist, Socialist, Democratic, and Aryan “culture,” which the radio supposedly has to care for, of the influence of the listenership on programming, of the subordination of the radio to the wishes of the hearer, etc. The central problem seems to be this: the listener instinctively understands that he has no control over the transmissions that come to him through the aether. He does not know their source, their bias, their truth or falsity. He seeks to exert a control that the radio itself cannot give him, that he cannot get in answer to his letter to the radio company, that no newspaper and no magazine can convincingly provide.

As long as he is politically, culturally, or artistically informed through a newspaper or through the printed page and picture, he can check the truth in other newspapers. Each man has a higher drive the yearning for absolute truth. If he learns that his newspaper lies to him, that newspaper loses him and he moves to another paper. It is different with the radio. He has no choice with the German radio, no really satisfying control. That which his radio, newspaper, or magazine tells him either before or after the program lacks the topicality, timeliness, and urgency of the radio program. It comes either too early — for what the listener actually experiences — or too late.

Suddenly, then, what counts the most is not what one has carried home in black and white, but rather the spoken words that come with all their suggestive urgency from the radio speaker. The hearer seeks therefore to control and protect himself from this one-sided influence not by printed brochures and radio newspapers, but rather by something living. He does not want to believe the printed words of a newspaper critic, but rather, in this generation of mass movements, he wants to join a mass of those who sound the same, feel the same, and think the same. They desire for unity, for identity with a large community, triumphs over individualism. Thus the listener organizations develop. The listener feels that he as a member of a great unity which is not tossed this way and that by assorted and numerous opinions, but is rather firmly and steadfastly centered. That center is the community of certain views, interests, and feelings. In it, he feels sheltered from lies and deceptions, defended from all attacks on his mental stability. He feels as if he is attacking opposing views and doctrines.

For these reasons, the large ideologically-based organizations are today in the midst of most difficult political-ideological struggles as to their essential shape and form. At the same time, the old technically based organizations with decreasing memberships seek merger, or fall apart.

When genuine and active mass movements spring up from all sides, the foremost task of national politics is to incorporate them wisely into the unified life of the nation.

At a time in which the slogan of anti-parliamentarianism has become the rage and in which the glorious past is though to tower over all present organizational forms of the state and human society, the existence of federations, interest groups, and ideological associations and parties is, in an obvious misunderstanding, labeled as “parliamentarian” by those who are always limping behind events and developments. He who possesses no feeling for living growth sees in the current state of each only the contradictions and contrasts that everything living has.

A writer investigating such current developments can easily become an unfruitful critic. He who is able to describe and portray historical events brilliantly is at times helpless before current developments. Or, he may be so filled with hate and hostility because of his own unfruitful dogmas that he is unable to perceive the living force and the triumphant desire for freedom and form of new ideas, much less to properly evaluate them.

What, they ask, is the meaning of organization, federation, association? Why they become superfluous in the course of the development of political power. Party? The party is absorbed by the state! They are all parliamentary fossils. Whoever has power handles all these questions “from the top down.”

What nonsense! As if there has ever been word of a command transmitted into action that did not have an organization supporting its realization! Organizations become superfluous in the course of the development political power — that means no more nor less than anarchy and chaos, it means powerlessness! Organization is hierarchy, that is, order and subordination, the perfection of strength.

Today twenty million, and perhaps in the future forty million, radio listeners of differing political views have united their most vigorous elements in mass movements, in listener federations. The duty of a strong government cannot be to smash the controlling organs that spring from a living need of the masses. As is well known, one cannot in life simply abolish opposition, not to mention a totality. We cannot do it in ourselves, even less if we want to try the experiment with the masses. Psychology tells us that emotional forces cannot simply be eliminated, but rather they can only be suppressed.

This knowledge is also based on the methods of struggle used by all successful ideological movements. In Facism as well as in Bolshevism and National Socialism, intelligent leadership has realized from the beginning that it would not be sufficient to be critical of the existing order. One must also give the masses something to believe in.

Radio, the most advanced technical form of influence and education, must make use of these laws and experiences.

The listener organizations have developed out of necessity. Depending on their political outlook and their internal situation, they may be in strong opposition to or in general agreement with the governmental radio leadership. Likewise, the listener federation can be an organization of agreement as well as criticism. Should the state allow the free play of forces in the liberal sense to run wild and watch while its strongest weapon in the struggle for control of the populace becomes, in the long run, a football in demagogic hands? Or should one act in accordance with the comfortable and short-sighted views of the former Interior Minister von Gayl and build and lead the radio “without regard to the wishes of the organizations!?” Should the government apply the principle of lazisse faire, lassier aller as it does with the press and allow the strongest instrument of public opinion to fall into enemy hands, only to add grist to their mill by subsequent prohibitions? People did not worry about the mass parties on the left until they took over the state. In recognition of the technical and psychological marvel of the radio, a much bolder design must replace halfway and unfruitful methods — the radio corporation.

The concept originates with the Fascist corporate state, and suggests the professional organization planned by Hitler or the guilds of our Gothic past.

It much resembles Mussolini’s comprehensive newspaper policies, which firmly incorporated all of Italian journalism into the Fascist national state despite all the individual escapades, or the Theater Corporation established by the Fascists. The radio corporation, however, is broader in its aims and scope. It includes within its boundaries not only intellectual leaders and the economically concerned, but the listeners as well. The radio as an instrument and as an intellectual tool has become progressively more important in comparison with the transitory technical developments during the years 1928-1933. In those years, as it is well known, people attempted to meet the growing difficulties in all states through the construction of large transmitters. The large transmitter enabled centralized leadership and control, and was therefore considered superior to newspapers, which are not centrally led. We cannot forsee future developments with certainty. Present experience shows, however, that radio centralization by no means precludes strong opposition movements among the listeners as well as among the artistic elements. The new task begins here.

The radio corporation should bring together the creative artists and the participating listeners. Between them stand industry, commerce, management, and technology.

The radio listener

As of 1 January 1933, 4,300,000 German radio owners were registered with the Postal Ministry. The total number of listeners is estimated at about 20,000,000. Compared with 1 January 1932, there was a 9.2% increase during the calendar year 1923. The population of Germany as of 1 January 1933 was 64,776,000. Thus there were about 66.5 registered radio receivers per 1000 of population. 512,141, about 12% of the total owners, had their radio fees waived.

Registered Set Owners
Estimated number of listeners
Late November 1932
1.7 million
Late October 1932
3.0 million
Late November 1932
2.5 million
Great Britain
Late November 1932
26 million
Late November 1932
0.6 million
Late November 1932
2.5 million
Late September 1932
3.0 million
Late November 1932
1.1 million
Late October 1932
2.3 million
Late November 1932
1.5 million
Late November 1932
0.9 million

Source: World Radio Association

Industry and Commerce

The German radio industry is organized into the Radio Industry Federation [Verband der Funkindustrie e.V.] in which the Telefunken and Aaron firms have the strongest influence, and also in the Central Federation of the German Electrical Industry [Zentralverband der deutschen elektrotechnischen Industrie e.V.], which is to some extent controlled by the Siemens and Lorenz firms. At the beginning of 1933, approximately 50 firms participated in radio production.

Besides the organizations of these large firms, there are also about 340 state and district groups comprising the Federation of German Radio Merchants [Reichsvervand Deutscher Funkhandler e.V.], which has over 1200 individual members. There is also the Union of the German Radio Trade [Interessengmeinschaft des Deutschen Funkhandels] and the Economic Federation of the German Radio Trade [Wirtschaftsverband des Deutschen Funkhandels].

Still, the number of organized firms is small, and this harms the merchants and the industry. Berlin alone has 1500 dealers, the entire country 12,000 to 15,000 (70,000 according to another estimate!) dealers, yet only about 12% are organized.

The importance of the radio corporation to the radio industry and commerce cannot be stated too strongly.

The firm structure of the corporation guarantees complete purchasing discipline by the public, and therefore the elimination of foreign sets to the benefit of German sales. Dumping and price cutting will become impossible because of the professional organization and the selling and manufacturing licenses legally administered by it.

The living and direct contact that each member has with the radio corporation will lead him to think of himself not only as a listener, but in a certain sense as a co-creator. It will multiply and broaden the circle of listeners to an extent that we cannot today imagine. Thus, a continuing improvement in business conditions is guaranteed for industry and the dealer, which, by the way, have always aimed in differing ways for the closest possible relations with the listener.

It further means that a unity of artistic, cultural, and political expression is achieved by means of corporate commitment.

Reckless attacks by demoralizing writers or demagogic leaders of the masses are most easily neutralized by strong mass organizations and newspaper organizations. How easily the use or misuse of radio can set the masses in motion is shown by the radio protest meetings called by the National Socialists, Social Democrats, and Communists. At them, for example, the KPD, which next to the National Socialists and the National Democrats possesses the surest instinct for mass leadership, used their best speakers, such as Representative Torgler and others.

A leadership that is confident of its aims will not take too seriously the opposition movements among the listenership. As a result of the expansion of radio, small events can instantly become movements of millions of people. It is a sign of superiority when one allows the strong must to ferment without wanting to make an impression everywhere with the rod of threats, prohibitions, repressions, etc.

Active attempts to break the state monopoly are, however, very dangerous. The Social Democrats, who controlled nearly every German radio station after 1925, attempted to exploit their international connections after they lost power in summer 1932.

The Social Democratic radio organization openly encouraged a radio strike and sabotage, and organized direct attacks from across the border. The most important strongholds of these attacks were in Holland, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, and German Austria, countries in which the Social Democrats have partial control of the government, or as in Holland, in which they even control their own station. (The listeners organizations in Holland rent the stations.) This station immediately began broadcasting extensive Marxist propaganda in German. The Social Democratic organizations on this side of the border openly discussed this action in meetings, circular letter, sand the press, and encouraged their members to listen exclusively to these foreign stations. Here are a few lines from the Social Democratic Münchner Post of 11 November 1932:

“The Voice of Freedom from Hilversum

Lobe’s forbidden Commemorative Address of 9 November

For the first time, the German social democracy has made it impossible to use the radio within Germany as a witness to an historical event, a commemorative address on the German Revolution of 1918. Yesterday, the Nazi Radio Commisionar Scholz forbade Reichstag Representative Paul Lobe to give his 9 November speech on the German radio. Minister von Gayl upheld this band despite the protest of the Socialist Culture Federation. The right of the radio is thus denied to the working class while the reactionary Junker government daily misuses it for its own purposes.

But the gentlemen’s club government deceives itself if it believes itself able to forbid free discussion of the event which occurred on 9 November. Freedom always finds a free state. That was true during the time of the socialist laws, during which the printed words of fearless and brilliant men were smuggled across the border into Germany. It was also true this past 9 November — the spoken word found a home across the border and was carried by the aether to establish historical truth. After the ban in Germany, Comrade Lobe was invited by Dutch workers to have his address broadcast from Hilversum. Holland is liberal enough to put the radio at the service of free speech, and to stay a long way from the muzzling that occurs in Papen’s Germany. It was therefore possible for Comrade Lobe to pay open tribute to historical truth within the framework of a great cultural program. And what he said last night was heard throughout Germany. The ruling Metternichs in Berlin were outwitted…….”

The extent to which international propaganda intended for German workers exists is shown in Volume 2, Number 9 of the National Socialist monthly Deutsch der Runkfunk! It lists the following programs during the few days from 7 August to 20 August:

[There follows two pages of programming from foreign socialist stations that I have omitted.]

The above listing includes neither the French or the Polish governmental broadcasts that have regularly carried anti-German programs in German during the past four years. From the west one hears of the industrial nation that has the least unemployment and the lowest rate of taxation, from the east of extensive untilled farmlands and low prices.

The Communist Party of Germany has worked in a similar way for a long time with Moscow propaganda stations, which as is well known are the most powerful in Europe. It is listened to and used politically by many groups of German workers at the community evenings held by the communist Free Radio Association (see the pamphlet by engineer Paul Jansen, technical head of the Free Radio Association of Germany, entitled “How Can I Receive Moscow?”). The unlimited lying propaganda from the Soviet Union and the fact that it appeals without exception to the lowest classes of the populace, who have no non-communist educational or instructional material, shows how necessary defense is.

The Fourth World Congress of the Red Trade Union Internationale, held in Moscow from 13 March to 3 April 1928, called the radio a ‘powerful means of unification, agitation, propaganda, and cultural and educational work.” It talked of the significance of listener organizations, whose development among the workers must play an important role with respect to international association as well as in the elections, etc. The congress also stated that the growing radio amateur movements are of tremendous importance for direct relations between the working classes of different countries. The revolutionary trade unions and minorities have made the expansion of a network of short wave transmitters and receivers their duty. Thus, radio amateurs in the USSR would be in a position, with the help of their homemade transmitters and receivers, to be in contact with listeners in Germany and other countries.

The International Radio Commission of the Trade Union Internationale convened an international radio conference in Moscow in November 1929. The Conference published the Bulletin of the Agitprop Department of the RGJ, Number 12, December 1929, according to which it is absolutely essential to create strong contact between radio listeners and to organize them for the struggle against reformist and middle class radio all along the line.

The daily program is as follows:

Moscow: German programs

Trade Union Station: 1305 meters
Comintern Station: 1481 meters
Short Wave Station: 50 meters


7.8 21:00: War and the Mensheviks.
8.8 21:00: How wars develop.
11.8 21:00: Newsreel and letterbox
12.8 21:00: How a Komosol film is made in Magnitogarsk.
13.8 21:00: Cultural growth under the second five-year plan.
14.8 21:00: The world’s Jews.
15.8 21:00: Soviet Theater.
16.8 21:00: Weekly newsreel and letterbox
17.8 21:00: A day in the children’s town in the culture park.
18.8 21:00 :Agricultural workers in the Soviet Union

(Source: Deutsch der Rundfunk: Volume 2, Number 9)

Defense against such baleful influences is possible only with the active cooperation of the listenership. It is more difficult to stop objectionable broadcasts from across the border than shipments of enemy leaflets.

One needs to realize just once the suggestive mass effects which wild agitation can arouse in any crowd in receptive times. Then he will understand the terrible danger which the German millions, surrounded by a ring of enemies, face when the entire strength and forcefulness of criminal lying propaganda suddenly floods across the border.

The propaganda printed by the Entente made an important contribution to the downfall of our homeland in 1918. Its consistent repetition and apodictic certainty even affected the younger members of the army at the front. The power of such propaganda would be far greater today, for they could hurl the spoken German word, and could simply outshout the facilities of the vacillating Reich Postal Ministry with strong transmitters in foreign countries. At the end of 1932 we had postponed completion of our central German 150 KW transmitter, while Moscow broadcasts with not 250 KW, but 500 KW, and Warsaw has broadcast for a long time with 200 KW.

The individual has no defense against the news as long as he is alone. If the news is uncontrolled and unchallenged, and reaches not tens of thousands but millions, mass panic can result on an historically unprecedented scale. What can newspapers, extras, pamphlets, appearing hours or perhaps days later, say? By that time, new lies have long been spread. Against this, there is but one weapon: the most vigorous construction of the German radio network as well as the education of the German masses towards national discipline by the creation of the powerful organizational structure of the radio corporation.

The radio corporation must embrace the totality of radio. It will then be the strongest element of national will building and security. Its contact with the entire populace and with the creative artistic circle, its determination, discipline, and importance for the defense of radio, and its connection with industry and commerce, make it an indispensable instrument for any national power politics that works with all modern means.

The listener organizations and artist federations are a supplement to firm leadership of the radio, under the authority of leading statesmen. In contrast to the barrenness of bureaucracy, they are the living source that will bring to radio the fresh strength of a vigorous population of spirited and stormy youth, thus placing an eternal source of fresh strength at the disposal of the leadership of the Reich.

The radio corporation therefore becomes a platform for the rising younger generation, especially for artists.

This structure is required by a kind of internal law of growth. Federations of radio performers, critics, technicians, merchants and listeners now exist in varying forms alongside each other. If this strength is to be disciplined, it must be firmly concentrated in the corporative structure. This guarantees a unified leadership full freedom of action in questions of jurisdiction and interest.

The Governmental Reich Radio Company

We need an outstanding authority in order to form a robust national character from German individualism, which is currently scattered in a thousand directions.

Wulf Bley’s plan to put the radio in the hands of the leader of the Reich, in the hands of one in whom confidence is already place, is therefore brilliant. That has happened under the leadership of Dr. Goebbels in the Propaganda Ministry. Bley outlined the essential principles for the administrative framework of the German radio in his pamphlet Deutsche Nationalerziehung und Rundfunkneubau. The radio is independently organized, and is under the authority of the Reich Chancellor or leading statesmen. The existing situation is described in the following way by the monthly Wille und Weg, Number 3, 1933.

The form of the old radio organization did not result from extensive thought. It owes its existence to the technical accident that included it along with the telegraph under the Postal Ministry. In consequence, the radio’s organization and transmitting facilities are in the hands of the Postal Ministry. It further owes its existence to the jurisdictional accident that awarded authority over the radio to the Postal Ministry in violation of that ministry’s logical borders. The Postal Ministry has thus had the authority to stage a comedy with the radio, and to make a joke of it.

One may say that this is excessive and demagogic.

Well, if money from one of the firms controlled by Mr. Hugenberg was invested in the Scherl Company and secured control of the Scherl Company, and if the money of that company controlled the Berliner Lokalanzieger, one would with justification speak of a Hugenberg Trust, and maintain that Mr. Hugenberg controlled the Berliner Lokalanzieger.

The same interlocking capitalistic system is characteristic of the Postal Ministry. It controls the majority of the stock in the Reich Radio Company in Berlin. In return, the R.R.G. controls the companies. The result is not decisions based on purely ethical or political grounds or on the needs of the state, but rather decisions based entirely on capitalistic tendencies created by the capitalistic control of the Postal Ministry over the radio.

This dictatorship must fall if the radio is to be led along sound lines. The 100 million in annual radio fees is the fund which can be used to carry out a national-political task of enormous proportions.

It is disgraceful that great guiding principles, that is, political viewpoints, have never been in the foreground during years of proposals for radio reform. Politics is life. Prattle about “nonpolitical radio is therefore either proof of unfamiliarity with life or of dishonest demagogy. Neither had better be allowed in the realm of public opinion.

The radio must be political. Moreover, it can follow only the politics that is that of the leading statesmen. It belongs in authorized hands, and must therefore be forever removed from the departmental quarrels of the Postal Ministry, the Interior Ministry, and a dozen special ministers. The settlement of these disputes occurs not in an exchange of views over a conference table, but in the battle of opinions within the framework of the radio corporation. They find their political, intellectual, and economic resolution in the radio leadership. That means that corporations and federations as well as the governmental Reich Radio Company itself must be subordinated to the responsible orders of the Reich Chancellor.

The complete practicality of such an organizational form is sufficiently proven by a look at the present structure of radio. We need not go into detailed economic and legal arguments.

The Reich Postal Ministry Financing Law of 14 January 1928 gives the Postal Ministry financial independence (it is not accountable to the Reichstag). It thus violates the obvious provisions of Article 88 of the Constitution, under which the authority of the Postal Ministry extends to “conditions and fees for the use of the airwaves.”

The proclamation of 24 August 1925 concerning “entertainment programming” took control of what remained, which is the public at large thinks of as “radio.” The fee was fixed at two marks, and the conditions and regulations of postal control were laid out.

Besides public broadcasting, there is a press radio service controlled by the Wolff Telegraph Agency and the Telegraph Union.

There is also an economic radio service as well as grants of postal authority for the establishment of radio installations in the Reich Office, the State Police Office, and the public railroads.

Finally, there are border radio and high seas radio licenses, etc.

The concept of authority allows these peculiar relations to develop between the Postal Ministry and other governmental agencies. It grants the Postal Ministry uncommon power not only over against these agencies but especially over against the public, because no contractual or civil law relations develop from these one-sided grants, but rather only relations established under public law.

As a result, no one can force the Postal Ministry to transfer authority or to grant radio licenses. Likewise, the grant of authority can be revoked upon due notice if required by the needs of the general communication system or the public interest. That is crucial both for the activities of those engaged in transmission or reception and also for the right of the state itself to exercise its authority over the Postal Ministry by defining conditions such that they come under the concept of national interest rather than the communication system.

Because of its complete financial control, the Postal Ministry has avoided extensive influence on programming. It can therefore maintain with an appearance of justice that it has no more influence no the radio than it has on the selection and presentation of the materials transmitted by the Postal Ministry for the press news services.

The Postal Ministry, however, owns 51% of the stock in the Reich Radio Company, the holding company of the ten German broadcasting firms. The Reich Radio Company in turn fully controls these firms both financially and through the allotment of the yearly radio fees. The whole is thus a typically capitalistic interlocking structure, which cannot in the least obscure the actual and pervasive influence of the Postal Ministry.

The influence of the Postal Ministry on public broadcasting cannot be compared with the other branches of the radio and communication system, because other uses of the radio are self-supporting and independent, while the broadcasting companies are attached to the Postal Ministry in purely capitalistic ways.

The Radio Press Service, for example, works with the news agencies (WTB and TU) and their customers. The Postal Ministry finances neither party.

The Wireless Press Service transmits material intended for publication in the editorial sections of newspapers. Only newspapers and other news agencies along with the branch offices if they are members of the transmitting news agency, can receive the material. Private subscribers, banks, commercial firms, etc., are not allowed.

The licensed news agencies themselves negotiate the arrangements for the required license documents, and set the fee for the use of their receiving installations by German customers.

The Economic Radio System has an “Express Service,” which transmits from the postal installation as Konigswüsterhausen. It transmits exchange rates, world market prices, and stock and market reports to interested banks, industrialists, businesses, and marketing and purchasing companies.

The High Seas Radio Company transmits its news over the main radio station at Nordreich-an-Reeder to shipping firms and ship owners. It broadcasts weather reports, harbor conditions, and news of harbor strikes and accidents.

Foreign radio services such as Reuters, Havasian, Helvetian, and the special sports service of Rea and Sporn also do business in Germany.

Financial independence from the Postal Ministry is a characteristic of all these organizations. The conceptual and legal design of reconstruction (radio law), which is otherwise distinguished by a penetrating acuteness and persuasive power, is certainly wrong if it wants to put public broadcasting on the same level as these organizations. That analogy would put public broadcasting within the jurisdiction of the Postal Ministry. In reality, public broadcasting is a unique area which should be a public monopoly.

One can get an idea of the cultural and political effect that postal influence on the radio has had when considers that a country like Germany, which ahs the largest book production n the world, has fewer radio listeners after ten years of development, both in percentages and absolute terms, than has, for example, England.

In purely numerical terms, the picture is as follows according to the German Broadcaster [Deutsche Sender] of 18 December 1932:

A total of about 90 million marks in radio fees was taken in this past year. The Postal Ministry took 50.5 million as its share, while the rest, except for 6 million that went for the remission of fees to the blind, war cripples, and the unemployed, went to the broadcasting companies for the performance of their tasks. A considerable part of the remaining 40 million marks, however, came back to the Postal Ministry in the form of repayments, line rentals, etc. At most, 32 million remained at the effective disposal of the broadcasting companies. Postal money was spent as follows:

1. For the operation of broadcasting installations
5.5 million
2. For construction of new broadcasting installations
10.0 million
Depreciation of old broadcasting installations
3.5 million
4. Maintenance of lines
1.0 million
5. Collection of costs of fees
9.0 million
6. Personnel costs to the Postal Ministry for transmitter servicing, the Postal Central office, and radio reports from the O.P.D.
4.0 million
7. Radio’s share of the general business expenses of the Postal Ministry
2.5 million
8. Sales tax
2.0 million
9. Payments for coastal and overseas service
10.0 million
10. Paid to the Reich
3.0 million

One notices that the Postal Ministry takes the trouble to satisfactorily show the public the revenue it receives from the radio.

Thus far the German Broadcaster.

The use of radio fees for other purposes of the postal service must necessarily lead to the neglect of the basic needs of radio.

What is most peculiar and surprising here is the lack of an independent radio news agency.

The radio, which could be much faster and emphatic that the press, has at its disposal an annual budget of over 90 million marks for news, propaganda, and cultural purposes, of which less than 30 million marks goes for technical costs. Yet it has not decided to establish its own news agency that would be independent of the press and subject only to the influence of the state.

The “Dradag” (the Wireless News Service), which existed until 1932, was not a news agency, but rather a selection and censorship agency for the government. It was entirely dependent on the press. Rauscher, who headed Dradag for many years, explained things in the following manner:

Only with great expense could it (the radio) create its own network of correspondents. Even the large newspapers that have such a network at their disposal cannot do without the services of a news agency. The radio, like the newspapers, gets its news from sources that provide it by agreements. The Wireless Service is not the radio’s news agency, but rather its dispatch agencies and correspondents. The broadcasting companies get the weather services, as well as differing local and sports agencies. The Wireless Service is dependent on the same material as is at the disposal of a major newspaper. The services of the news agencies are tailored to the deadlines of their main customers, the press, which places radio (which has a different deadline) at somewhat of a disadvantage.

Today, the Wireless Press Service receives news from the Wolff Agency, the Telegraph Union, the Ullstein Agency, the European News Agency, the United Press, the Newspaper Publishers Agency (Parliamentary news), a social-political agency, and all the party and trade union agencies.

Since April 1933, the Dradag has been put on new foundations as a result of its organizational attachment to the Ministry for People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda. The “Wireless Service” is now known as the Service Office. It is under the leadership of the former Telegraph Union editor Fritzsche, and belongs in theory in the Reich Press Chief’s department in the Propaganda Ministry. There is naturally a radio news office, its budget determined through the Reich Radio Company by the radio commissioner. An important thing to note in the official proclamation is: “Its task consists on the one hand of the acquisition and dissemination of the daily news, and on the other of the preparation and dissemination of reports and information of the government on the radio. The News Department should rapidly and accurately inform the listenership of the most important news events of the day in a concise and lively manner. It should above all inform them of domestic and foreign political and economic developments.”

The situation described above does not mean that the news agency is concerned exclusively with politics. The significance of political news on the radio is shown in the following tables.

Programming Hours of German Radio: 1923-1930


Programming Distribution

Music and Entertainment
Morning Celebrations

Children’s Hour

Women’s Hour

The programming distribution of the German radio is such that about 28% of all programming is given to talks and reports. This percentage is as least as high as the corresponding figures for similar material in the daily press. However, one must consider that without exception radio programs reach a much larger number of hearers than individual newspapers have readers, and that many hearers turn to the radio only for news reports.

The reconstruction of radio must, therefore, include the establishment of an independent news agency as the foundation of responsible leadership of public opinion. According to the reorganization scheme promulgated by the Reich Radio Company, a German radio company is composed of these, among other, departments: superintendent’s office, current events department, choir and concert department, literary department, opera department, orchestral department, drama department, lecture and news department, and a record department.

One can see the variety and the enormous cultural and artistic possibilities which will, in the final analysis, be illusions possessing but latent strength if responsible foundations are not laid for the radio’s news service

Under the Gayl-Scholz reorganization of the radio, the principle of decentralization was carried out, giving the states in practice a greater influence on the radio than they previously had. A second principle, which has already been sufficiently criticized, was the standard of “freedom from politics.”

The radio has once again been firmly centralized as a result of its inclusion in the Ministry for People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda, and also because of the political events in the German states in the spring of 1933. The Konigswürsterhausen station, now officially the Germany Station [Deutschlandsender], will function as a representative station with its own comprehensive programming. An “Hour of the Nation” has been broadcast by the Germany Station since 1 April 1933, and has been regularly repeated by all the state stations. Such programs can also be produced by local stations and relayed by the Germany Station. The Germany Station has the task of creating a comprehensive national program of construction and, in the words of Dr. Goebbels, of “leading the way for everyone else.”

Go to Chapter 5

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