German Army Radio

This article was originally broadcast over AWR in their “Wavescan” program and now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to South Pacific DX Resource hosted on for a period of five years from April 1 2002. Author: Adrian Peterson

The central European nation of Germany was the first country in the world to produce special radio programming specifically for its armed forces. Germany also traces the beginning of its radio history back to this event which marks the first occasion of regular wireless broadcasting in their country.

The credit for this new radio initiative goes to Hans Bredov who transmitted music and information to troops in the German army who were stationed on the Western Front during World War 1. This historic endeavor took place in May 1917, and it ranks as one of the world’s first regular broadcasting services.

Around mid-year 1941, German personnel on duty in Yugoslavia re-activated the radio stations in the capital city, Belgrade, as Sender Belgrade. This station had been on the air previously as Radio Belgrade with studios in the city and two transmitters out in the ccountry.

The mediumwave transmitter was rated at 2.5 kW and it was on the air without callsign on 666 kHz. The 10 kW shortwave transmitter with its two mast antenna system was installed in a new building in an isolated area outside the city. This facility was inaugurated early in the year 1939 and it was on the air under the callsign YUA.

It was from Sender Belgrade that German service personnel first heard the nostalgic presentation of the very popular song, Lili Marlene. Because of the low power of the mediumwave transmitter, German forces in North Africa must have been tuned in to the shortwave unit. Subsequently, several other radio stations in the European and Mediterranean arena also began to play this recording of Lili Marlene, including some of the mobile stations in North Africa.

Interestingly, the first radio station operated by BFBS, the British Forces Broadcasting Service, played this rendition of Lili Marlene as part of the sign on routine for each broadcast day. This station was inaugurated on New Year’s Day 1944 and it was located in Algiers in North Africa. The German transmitter was previously on the air in Tunisia.

After the war was over, an Australian soldier who saw service in North Africa, brought back home a copy of the recording of Lili Marlene on an old 78 disc. Unfortunately this record was broken. However, the two parts were carefully glued together and this music was first broadcast in Australia over station 5DN in Adelaide.

In 1942, a mobile radio station, housed in 7 seven railway vans, was taken to Rovianemi (ROE-vee-AH-na-mee) in Finland where it was placed on air from the German army barracks 10 kM out of town. This army entertainment station was on the air for nearly three years.

The daily schedule from Laplandsender consisted of variety programming, news bulletins, and Finnish language lessons. The final broadcast from this unit was in November 1944.

When German forces withdrew from Finland to Norway, they took their mobile radio station with them. However, after a further withdrawal, the station was abandoned and it is now on display in the Radio Museum in Bergen, Norway.

For this story on German Army Radio, we acknowledge with appreciation the following sources:-
The book “BBC Engineering” by Edward Pawley
“Kurier” magazine in Germany
“Listening In” magazine from the Ontario DX Association in Canada
“Transmitter Documentation Project” from Ludo Maes in Belgium
“Radio & Hobbies” magazine in Australia
The book “A Microphone & a Frequency” by Doreen Taylor; and
Our own monitoring observations

German Army Radio

Time Lines

Date Station City Country Information
1917 Bredlov Germany Music broadcasts
1941 Sender Belgrade Belgrade Yugoslavia Lili Marlene
1942 Sender Lapland Rovaniemi Finnland 7 railway vans
1943 German Army Tunisia Became BFBS

German Army Radio


Location Information & References
Germany Hans Bredov programming for troops on Western Front; BBC 12
World 1st for forces broadcasting May 1917; WS170

Belgrade 1938 Belgrade 666 kHz 2.5 kW; RD 1938
SW YUA 10 kW established 1939; TDP & R&H 79.11 5-39 59
Photo SW building & antennas; R&H 77.10 Christmas 1939 66
German air raid Apr 6 41 damaged R Belgrade; ODXA 8-91 48
Yugoslavia surrendered to German troops April 17 1941; Encyc
Radio Belgade as Sender Belgrade 4 years; ODXA 8-91 48
Sender Belgrade launched “Lili Marlene”; ODXA 8-91 48

Lapland German mobile transmitters in reserve; Kurier 11-12/2001 18
Lapland Sender at Rovaniemi 1942 – November 1944, Kurier
Studio & offices in barracks; Kurier 11-12/2001 18
10 kM from Rovaniemi in 7 railway wagons; Kurier 11-12/2001 18
1 1st stage
2 1st stage
3 Modulator
4 Final stage
5 Equalizer
6 Antenna and masts
7 Longwave antenna
Variety programming, news, Finnish language lessons; Kurier
Last broadcast Nov 1944, withdrawn to Norway; Kurier
Abandoned in Bergen, now in Radio Museum; Kurier

Tunisia German army transmitter transferred by British to Algiers; WS344
Became 1st BFBS station; WS344
German transmitter at Tunisia taken to Algiers; Taylor BFBS 2
Test transmissions before Christmas 1943; Taylor BFBS 2
Opened in Algiers 1-1-44 with Lili Marlene; Taylor BFBS 2
Broadcast of Lili Marlene over 5DN; AMP monitoring

Others Continental Europe?
North Africa?

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