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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

August 18, 2008

Hitler in every house

Filed under Life in Europe

75 years ago today a new technology was utilized with the goal of making Adolf Hitler’s voice audible in every German home.

On August 18, 1933 – nearly 8 months after Hitler came to power – the "Volksempfänger" [people's radio] Volksempfänger was introduced during the Berlin radio exhibition. The "Volksempfänger" was a tube radio that cost only half as much as comparable receivers, but still cost about about half a month’s salary for the average worker. The design of the "Volksempfänger" was commissioned by the new German government. That was no surprise, when one considers what propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels said shortly after Hitler took office: "We make no secret of it: Radio belongs to us and no one else. And we will utilize radio for our idea." Despite its price, 100,000 units were sold shortly after the exhibition, and another 700,000 units were sold the following year. The number of registered radio listeners in Germany jumped from 4.2 million in 1932 to 12.5 million in 1939. One group, however, was not allowed to "enjoy" the benefits of the "Volksempfänger": In 1939 Jews were ordered to turn in their radios.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.

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