Art on Air
Radio & Propaganda
Radio is the pioneering propoganda organ of the 20th century, developed during the late 19th century by a worldwide roster of inventors such as Thomas A. Edison (United States) and Guglielmo Marconi (Italy).
Radio was the first medium that boasted the capability of reaching a mass audience instantaneously. This new technology offered a myriad of social, cultural, and educational possibilities. But it was the exploitation of radio's political potential by both dictators and democatrically elected heads of state that demonstrated the powerful propaganda weapon that radio became.
"The Radio will be to the Twentieth century what the press was to the Nineteenth." - Josef Goebbels, 1933.
Der Volksempfanger (The People's Receiver)
"The German Radio serves the German people. That which degrades the German people is excluded from German Radio." - Erich Scholz, Deutscher Radiosender, 1932.
National Socialist Germany was the first totalitarian state to use the radio as a propaganda tool. When Hitler came to power, the Nazis took over the Reichsender and Hitler's speeches were broadcast from the Nuremberg rallies through the large loudspeakers installed in public places.
In order to make the radio afforable for all, the notorious Volksempfanger was introduced on August 18, 1933 at the International Funk Ausstellung, in Berlin. The " VE- 301" (to commemorate the date of Hitler's inaugeration - 30/1/1933) cost 76 Reichsmark and lacked shortwave bands. No positions of other European dials were marked, only German and later Austrian stations, and listening to foreign radio broadcasts was a criminal offense.
By 1939 the VE-301 had been made a mass commodity. The general program consisted of propaganda, news, pre-approved broadcasts, and Volkische as well as classical music. Jazz and swing were considered subversive and decadent elements and banned.
By the outbreak of WWII, listening to Feindsender (enemy radio stations) became punishable by sentence to a concentration camp. All radios sold after 1939 came with a warning label atached to the tuning knob that said : "Think about this. Listening to a foreign broadcast is a crime against the national security of our people and punishable by the Fuhrer's order with either prison or hard labor."