On August 18, 1933, the original Volksempfänger VE 301 was presented at the 10. Große Deutsche Funkausstellung in Berlin. The purpose of the Volksempfänger-program was to make radio reception technology affordable to the general public. Nazi Propagandaminister Joseph Goebbels realized the great propaganda potential of this relatively new medium and thus considered widespread availability of receivers highly important.
The first model, the Volksempfänger VE301 was developed by the company Dr. G. Seibt based in Berlin, Germany. It was presented at the 10. Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin on August 18, 1933. The device’s case was made of Bakelite and it was designed by Walter Maria Kersting. Back then, all larger radio manufacturers had to produce their devices based on the government’s standards and prices. In the beginning of the VE 301 only German and Austrian stations were marked while foreign stations could be received after dark with an external antenna, particularly as stations such as the BBC European service increased transmission power during the course of the war.
The VE 301 became one of the few propaganda projects that was produced in a series, others included the KdF-Wagen, the Einheitsempfänger and the Volkskühlschrank (a fridge). The low price of the VE 301 should ensure anyone to listen to the NS-Propaganda. The name VE 301 was based on the abbreviation for Volksempfänger as well as 301 as a reminder on January 30, 1933 – day day of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.
Hitler’s architect and Minister for Armaments and War Production, Albert Speer, said in his final speech at the Nuremberg trials about the Volksempfänger: “Hitler’s dictatorship differed in one fundamental point from all its predecessors in history. His was the first dictatorship in the present period of modern technical development, a dictatorship which made the complete use of all technical means for domination of its own country. Through technical devices like the radio and loudspeaker, 80 million people were deprived of independent thought. It was thereby possible to subject them to the will of one man”.
References and Further Reading:
- Volksempfänger VE 301 at Technisches Museum Wien
- Vor 75 Jahren: Der Volksempfänger VE301 wird vorgestellt [in German]