File:Volksempfaenger 02 KMJ.jpg

The Volksempfänger (German for "People's receiver") was a range of radio receivers developed by Otto Griessing at the request of Joseph Goebbels.

The purpose of the Volksempfänger-program was to make radio reception technology affordable to the general public. Joseph Goebbels realized the great propaganda potential of this relatively new medium and thus considered widespread availability of receivers highly important.

History Edit

The original Volksempfänger VE-301[1] model was presented on August 18, 1933 at the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin. The VE-301 was available at a readily affordable price of 76 German Reichsmark, and a cheaper 35 Reichsmark model, the DKE38 (sometimes called Goebbels-Schnauze - "Goebbels' snout" - by the general public), was also later produced, along with a series of other models under the Volksempfänger, Gemeinschaftsempfänger, KdF (Kraft durch Freude), DKE (Deutscher Kleinempfänger) and other brands.


All Volksempfängers were purposely designed only to receive local stations, so as to ensure that Nazi propaganda broadcasts could readily be heard while other media, such as the BBC's World Service, could not. To this end most Volksempfängers lacked shortwave bands and didn't follow the practice, common at the time among other receiver manufacturers, of marking the approximate dial positions of major European stations on its tuning scale. Generally only German (and later Austrian) stations were marked and cheaper models didn't have a proper scale at all (an example pictured above has its dial marked in arbitrary numbers rather than metres or kilocycles). The sensitivity was lower than a normal radio although in practice it could with some difficulty still be used to receive foreign stations (including the BBC) particularly as these stations increased their transmission power during the war.

Listening to foreign stations was a criminal offence in Nazi Germany while in some occupied territories, such as Poland, all radio listening by non-German citizens was outlawed (later in this war this prohibition was extended to most other occupied countries coupled with mass seizures of radio sets[1]). Penalties ranged from confiscation of radios and imprisonment to, particularly later in the war, the death penalty. Nevertheless, such clandestine listening was widespread in many Nazi-occupied countries and (particularly later in the war) in Germany itself. The Nazis also attempted radio jamming of some enemy stations with limited success.


Much has been said about the efficiency of the Volksempfänger as a propaganda tool. Most famously, Hitler's architect and Minister for Armaments and War Production, Albert Speer, said in his final speech at the Nuremberg trials:


Utility ReceiverEdit

The British equivalent of the Volksempfänger was the Utility Radio which was produced to a standard government approved design by a consortium of manufacturers using standard components to make repair easier. However, the primary purpose of the British design was to economise on the use of scarce materials and simplify repairs rather than to frustrate attempts at listening to foreign stations. (Such listening was officially discouraged but not actually forbidden in the United Kingdom).

The Volksempfänger in popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. "VE-301" is an abbreviation where the "VE" stands for "Volksempfänger" and the "301" refers to the date of 30/1/1933 - the day of the inauguration of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.

Books and publications on the subjectEdit

In German:

  • Ansgar Diller: Der Volksempfänger. Propaganda- und Wirtschaftsfaktor. In: Mitteilungen des Studienkreises Rundfunk und Geschichte 9/1983, S. 140-157
  • Michael P. Hensle: Rundfunkverbrechen. Das Hören von "Feindsendern" im Nationalsozialismus, Metropol: Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-936411-05-0
  • Wolfgang König: Der Volksempfänger und die Radioindustrie. Ein Beitrag zum Verhältnis von Wirtschaft und Politik im Nationalsozialismus. In: Vierteljahreshefte für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 90/2003, S. 269-289
  • Wolfgang König: Mythen um den Volksempfänger. Revisionistische Untersuchungen zur nationalsozialistischen Rundfunkpolitik. In: Technikgeschichte 70/2003, S. 73-102
  • Wolfgang König: Volkswagen, Volksempfänger, Volksgemeinschaft. "Volksprodukte" im Dritten Reich: Vom Scheitern einer nationalsozialistischen Konsumgesellschaft, Ferdinand Schöningh: Paderborn et al. 2004, ISBN 3-506-71733-2
  • Conrad F. Latour: Goebbels' "außerordentliche Rundfunkmaßnahmen" 1939-1942. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 11/1963, S. 418-435.
  • Daniel Mühlenfeld: Joseph Goebbels und die Grundlagen der NS-Rundfunkpolitik. In: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 54/2006, S. 442–467.
  • Uta C. Schmidt: Der Volksempfänger. Tabernakel moderner Massenkultur. In: Inge Marßolek/Adelheid von Saldern (Hg.): Radiozeiten. Herrschaft, Alltag, Gesellschaft (1924-1960), Vlg. f. Berlin-Brandenburg: Potsdam 1999, S. 136-159, ISBN 3-932981-44-8
  • Kilian J. L. Steiner: Ortsempfänger, Volksfernseher und Optaphon. Entwicklung der deutschen Radio- und Fernsehindustrie und das Unternehmen Loewe 1923-1962, Essen: Klartext Vlg. 2005, ISBN 3-89861-492-1

External linksEdit

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