Tag Archives: Germany

Radio Waves: A Century of Radio in Germany, Magic of ARISS, and Second Lockdown Special Callsigns in Belgium

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Paul, Dennis Dura, Wilbur Forcier, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


How radio became a cult in its early years in Germany (DW)

A century ago, the age of radio began in Germany. Cultural broadcasts made radio popular before the Nazis appropriated it for their propaganda.

On December 22, 1920, the first radio broadcast in Germany hit the airwaves. “Attention, attention — this is Königs Wusterhausen on radio wave 2700.” This was how a Christmas concert by the employees of the German Reichspost was announced. Featuring a clarinet, reed organ, string instruments and piano, they played in the broadcasting building of the city of Königs Wusterhausen.

Modest sound quality

Transmission quality was poor: static and crackling accompanied the musical performance. Only official agents of the German Reichspost could listen to this transmission since in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles, private citizens in Germany were forbidden from listening to radio signals.

Society on the move

Nonetheless, radio in Germany was born. Society at the time of the Weimar Republic was in transition. Painters were no longer merely depicting the natural worlds — Cubism, Dadaism and abstract art were unearthing new dimensions of the imagination that had no direct reference to reality. Musicians and composers were creating hitherto unheard-of sounds with jazz and twelve-tone techniques joining familiar rhythms and keys. Writers and poets were creating parallel plots and stories. Consumer products were being mass-produced. Aviation was connecting people over thousands of kilometers — and radio was booming.

The first official radio entertainment program in Germany was broadcast on October 29, 1923. The Allies had by then lifted the ban on listening to radio waves. The fact that we even have an acoustic record of it today is due to a coincidence: a few months after it was broadcast, the program was re-enacted and preserved on disc.

Broadcasting with a mission

Meanwhile, inflation was soaring in Germany. Poverty and misery were rampant, especially in the big cities. “Radio was welcomed in Germany like a liberating miracle, especially at a time of intense emotional and economic hardship,” Hans Bredow, considered the “father” of German radio, said at the time.

Like many radio pioneers of the Weimar years, Bredow had lofty ambitions to widen national perspectives in his position as Radio Commissioner to the German Reich’s Postal Minister. This new technology was to signal an end to the age of ignorance and prejudice.

In December 1923, there were a total of 467 listeners. One year later, there were already one million listeners within the Reich’s entire territory. And in 1932, there were more than four million paying radio subscribers — and at least as many non-paying listeners. The daily broadcasting time also increased steadily. In 1923, it was 60 minutes; by 1932, there were already 15 hours of radio programs every day.

Entertainment for the masses

It was the new possibilities of simultaneous acoustic reporting that captivated the “Radioten, ” a derogatory term that was used for radio lovers at the time. An extraordinary media event at that time, the radio achieved its exciting effect through its immediacy and “live” character. And it gave birth to a genre unknown until then: the radio play.

Meanwhile, heated debates abounded about the negative effects of radio on listeners, culture and politics. Many intellectuals and artists distanced themselves from the new medium. Among them was the Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg. “Broadcast media caters to the majority. At any time of the day or night, people are served a feast for the ears without which they apparently can no longer live today. I assert the right of the minority against this delirium for entertainment: one must also be able to broadcast what is necessary, and not only the trivial.”[Continue reading full story at DW…]

Earthlings and astronauts chat away, via ham radio (Phys.org)

The International Space Station cost more than $100 billion. A ham radio set can be had for a few hundred bucks.

Perhaps that explains, in part, the appeal of having one of humankind’s greatest scientific inventions communicate with Earth via technology that’s more than 100 years old. But perhaps there’s a simpler explanation for why astronauts and ham radio operators have been talking, and talking, for years.

NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock was just a few weeks into his six-month mission at the space station when feelings of isolation began to set in.

Wheelock would be separated from loved ones, save for communication via an internet phone, email or social media. At times, the stress and tension of serving as the station’s commander could be intense.

One night, as he looked out a window at the Earth below, he remembered the space station’s ham radio. He figured he’d turn it on—see if anyone was listening.

“Any station, any station, this is the International Space Station,” Wheelock said.

A flood of voices jumbled out of the airwaves.

Astronauts aboard the space station often speak to students via ham radio, which can also be used in emergencies, but those are scheduled appearances. Some, like Wheelock, spend their limited free time making contact with amateur radio operators around the world.

“It allowed me to … just reach out to humanity down there,” said Wheelock, who interacted with many operators, known as “hams,” during that stay at the space station in 2010. “It became my emotional, and a really visceral, connection to the planet.”

The first amateur radio transmission from space dates to 1983, when astronaut Owen Garriott took to the airwaves from the Space Shuttle Columbia. Garriott was a licensed ham who, back on Earth, had used his home equipment in Houston to chat with his father in Oklahoma.

Garriott and fellow astronaut Tony England pushed NASA to allow amateur radio equipment aboard shuttle flights.

“We thought it would be a good encouragement for young people to get interested in science and engineering if they could experience this,” said England, who was the second astronaut to use ham radio in space.[]

Living in space can get lonely. What helps? Talking to random people over ham radio (LA Times)

The International Space Station cost more than $100 billion. A ham radio set can be had for a few hundred bucks.

Perhaps that explains, in part, the appeal of having one of humankind’s greatest scientific inventions communicate with Earth via technology that’s more than 100 years old. But perhaps there’s a simpler explanation for why astronauts and ham radio operators have been talking, and talking, for years.

NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock was just a few weeks into his six-month mission at the space station when feelings of isolation began to set in.

Wheelock would be separated from loved ones, save for communication via an internet phone, email or social media. At times, the stress and tension of serving as the station’s commander could be intense.

One night, as he looked out a window at the Earth below, he remembered the space station’s ham radio. He figured he’d turn it on — see if anyone was listening.

“Any station, any station, this is the International Space Station,” Wheelock said.

A flood of voices jumbled out of the airwaves.

Astronauts aboard the space station often speak to students via ham radio, which can also be used in emergencies, but those are scheduled appearances. Some, like Wheelock, spend their limited free time making contact with amateur radio operators around the world.[]

Special call signs in Belgium during the second lockdown period (Southgate ARC)

Belgian amateurs activate the following special event callsigns to remind everyone of Covid-19 restrictions and express gratefulness to medical personnel:
OS2HOPE, OT5ALIVE, OT4CARE, OR20STAYHOME, OT6SAFE, OP19MSF, OQ5BECLEVER, OR6LIFE, OO4UZLEUVEN and OT2CARE.

Due to the recent stricter COVID-19 measures, many radio amateurs will be forced to spend most of the following weeks at home again. Many are obliged to telework. Teleworking is definitely becoming the new standard for several employees. COVID-19 has accelerated teleworking for almost all companies.

At the request of the Royal Union of Belgian Radio Amateurs (UBA), the BIPT has decided to once again grant permission to apply for customised special call signs. The exceptional conditions apply to special call signs with an encouraging meaning.

These appropriate special call signs may be used at the home address of radio amateurs. The conditions are the same as during the first lockdown in spring.
Radio amateurs are allowed to re-request the special call sign obtained during the first lockdown.

Operation until January 31, 2021.

For QSL information see QRZ.com


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Radio Waves: More Cuts to Radio Canada International, RCI Action Comments, End of Radio Disney, Changes to German Phonetic Alphabet and Is FM More Efficient than DAB?

View of the western cluster of curtain antennas from the roof of RCI Sackville’s former transmissions building. Photo from June, 2012.

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Kris Partridge, Gareth Buxton, Dave Zantow, and Paul R for the following tips:


Canada’s public broadcaster announces new cuts to Radio Canada International (Radio Canada International)

Officials at CBC/Radio-Canada announced a fresh round of cuts at Radio Canada International (RCI) on Thursday as part of a “major transformation” of the beleaguered international service of Canada’s public broadcaster.

A joint statement released by Radio-Canada executive vice-president Michel Bissonnette and his CBC counterpart, Barbara Williams, said the goal of the transformation was “to ensure that the service remains a strong and relevant voice in the 21st-century media landscape.”

“In its strategic plan Your Stories, Taken to Heart, the public broadcaster committed to ‘taking Canada to the world’ and ‘reflecting contemporary Canada,’” the joint statement said.

“Transforming RCI is a necessary step to allow the service to effectively fulfil the important role it must play in delivering on those commitments.

“To that end, RCI will soon be offering more content in more languages, drawing on the work of CBC/Radio-Canada’s respected news teams to reach new audiences at home and abroad.”

Earlier in the morning Radio-Canada executives held a virtual meeting with RCI employees to inform them of upcoming changes.

In all, the transformation will reduce the number of RCI employees by more than half, from the current 20 to nine, including five journalists assigned to translate and adapt CBC and Radio-Canada articles, three field reporters, and one chief editor.

As part of the announced transformation, the English and French language services of RCI will be eliminated and will be replaced by curated content created by CBC and Radio-Canada respectively.

The remaining Arabic, Chinese and Spanish services will also be reduced in size.

However, two new language services – Punjabi and Tagalog – will be added to the editorial offering presented by RCI, officials said.

RCI content will also get more visibility by being incorporated into CBCNews.ca and Radio-Canada.ca with its own portal page featuring all the languages, the statement said.

RCI apps will be folded into the CBC News and Radio-Canada Info mobile apps, while the service’s five existing apps will be deleted, the statement added.

Under the new plan, RCI’s operations will focus on three main areas: translating and adapting a curated selection of articles from CBCNews.ca and Radio-Canada.ca sites; producing a new weekly podcast in each RCI language; and producing reports from the field in Chinese, Arabic and Punjabi.

“This transformation will help bring RCI’s high-quality, relevant content to more people around the globe and allow them to discover our country’s rich culture and diversity,” the statement said.

The union representing Radio-Canada employees lambasted the move as a “rampage.”

“It feels like Groundhog Day with more cuts to RCI under the guise of transformation,” said Pierre Toussignant, president of Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC).

In 2012, CBC/Radio-Canada slashed RCI’s budget by nearly 80 per cent, forcing it to abandon shortwave radio broadcasting altogether. The cuts also resulted in significant layoffs and the closure of RCI’s Russian, Ukrainian and Portuguese language services.[]

‘Modernizing’ RCI to death! (RCI Action)

On December 3, 2020, Canada’s national public radio and television broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada announced “a major transformation” of Radio Canada International (RCI) titled “Modernizing Radio Canada International for the 21st century”. And if you didn’t know anything about the toxic relationship between the two, you would really think this was great news.

After all the budget cuts the national broadcaster has imposed on RCI (for example an 80 % cut in 2012) the news this time is more languages, greater visibility, and an expanded editorial line-up.

Let’s take these “improvements” one at a time.

How has CBC/Radio-Canada decided to give “greater visibility” for RCI’s Internet content? They’re going to bury it in inside the CBC and Radio-Canada websites, and not allow RCI to continue on a site that has existed since 1996.

In this same announcement, CBC/Radio-Canada says it’s adding complete sections in Punjabi and Tagalog to the existing services in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. In fact it’s adding one “field” journalist to work in Punjabi, and one in Tagalog – not whole sections.

As far as the Spanish, Arabic and Chinese services which each have three seasoned experienced presenter-producers offering tailored content for their target audiences outside Canada, well, they’re all fired. What will remain is one “journalist” per language, who will be obliged to translate texts given to them in English and French.

And now we come to the sections working in Canada’s official languages of English and French. Again, each of these services has three seasoned experienced presenter-producers offering tailored content for an international audience that needs explanations that the domestic service is not obliged to do. So what will Canada’s Voice to the World be obliged to do in this “major transformation”? Fire all six producers and have an editor at CBC, and one at Radio-Canada, choose some stories, and place it on the “RCI website” which is just a section of the CBC and Radio-Canada websites. Yes, the ones that give RCI “greater visibility”.

The CBC/Radio-Canada announcement speaks glowingly about how RCI has provided a Canadian perspective on world affairs, but then starts skidding into talking about “connecting with newcomers to our country”, “engaging with its target audience, particularly newcomers to Canada”, and making this new content “freely available to interested ethnic community media.” Certainly sounds like CBC/Radio-Canada is intent on servicing ethnic communities in Canada.

But there’s a problem. That’s not RCI’s mandate. And CBC/Radio-Canada has no right to change that mandate. Because Canada’s Broadcasting  Act,  Article 46 (2), makes it a condition of the national public broadcaster’s licence to provide an international service “in accordance with such directions as the Governor in Council may issue.”

And the latest Governor in Council, Order in Council, PC Number:2012-0775, says Radio Canada International must “produce and distribute programming targeted at international audiences to increase awareness of Canada, its values and its social, economic and cultural activities”.

This latest announcement by the CBC/Radio-Canada is, unfortunately, yet another in a string of actions over the last 30 years to eliminate Canada’s Voice to the World.

After failing to shutdown the service in 1990, 1995 and 1996 when pressure from listeners from around the world, and from Canadian Members of Parliament and Senators stopped the closure, the national broadcaster went about dismantling RCI one section after another, one resource after another in a death by a thousand cuts.

This assault on RCI really started in earnest in 1990 when Canada’s Voice to the World was a widely popular and respected international service of 200 employees, broadcasting in 14 languages heard around the world. The 1990 cut removed half the employees, and half the language sections. Over the years, under the guise of streamlining and improving the service, it’s been one cut after another. With this year’s announcement RCI will have a total of nine employees!

Not satisfied with cutting resources, CBC/Radio-Canada has also continually tried to undermine RCI’s international role.

When in 2003 a Canadian parliamentary committee agreed with the RCI Action Committee, in emphasizing RCI’s important international role and suggested more resources should be given to RCI, CBC/Radio-Canada responded by removing two key corporate policies that specifically outlined the necessity for producing programmes for an international audience, again, despite an obligation under the Broadcasting Act.

The reductions in resources, the limiting or decreasing of RCI’s outreach, culminated in 2012 when CBC/Radio-Canada announced it was taking RCI off of shortwave radio broadcasts which had been the main way of communicating to the world since 1945.

This decision deliberately ignored the 2003 Order in Council that specifically obliged CBC as part of its licence to have RCI broadcast on shortwave. Two months after protests by the RCI Action Committee highlighted the illegality of this move, the Canadian Heritage Minister at the time, changed the Order in Council, eliminating shortwave from RCI’s obligations.

This whole sorry tale underlines a key problem facing Radio Canada International:

A domestic national broadcaster is deciding whether or not Canada should have an international voice to the world, and how well it should be funded.

Clearly however, the decision of whether Canada has a Voice to the World and how well it should be funded, should be a decision made by Parliament.

In the meantime, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault should tell CBC/Radio-Canada that it is not allowed to make this latest policy change. Then he should freeze any changes to the service until there is a serious renewal of the Voice of Canada, one that will give it financial and political protection from a toxic relationship with the national broadcaster.[]

Radio Disney, Radio Disney Country to End Operations in Early 2021 (Variety)

Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country are shutting down early next year.

Disney Branded Television president Gary Marsh announced the news Thursday, which impacts 36 part-time and full-time employees. The move comes as Marsh’s division looks to emphasize the production of kids and family content for streaming service Disney Plus and the linear Disney Channels.

Radio Disney first debuted in Nov. 1996 as a terrestrial broadcast network, aimed at kids, who would pick music playlist by calling a toll-free phone request line. The station was key to amplifying a bevy of musical artists, including the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Hilary Duff, Aaron Carter and others.

Radio Disney Country launched in 2015 as a digital platform, expanding two years later with two Los Angeles terrestrial stations.[]

Germany to wipe Nazi traces from phonetic alphabet (BBC News)

Germany is to revamp its phonetic alphabet to remove words added by the Nazis.

Before the Nazi dictatorship some Jewish names were used in the phonetic alphabet – such as “D for David”, “N for Nathan” and “Z for Zacharias”.

But the Nazis replaced these with Dora, North Pole and Zeppelin, and their use has since continued with most Germans unaware of their anti-Semitic origin.

Experts are working on new terms, to be put to the public and adopted in 2022.

The initiative sprang from Michael Blume, in charge of fighting anti-Semitism in the state of Baden-Württemberg, backed by the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

The job of devising new terms for the problematic letters is now in the hands of the German Institute for Standardization (DIN).

The commonly-used equivalent in the UK is the Nato phonetic alphabet, with terms such as “F for Foxtrot, T for Tango”. But many English speakers also use terms like “D for Dennis, S for Sugar” on the phone.[]

Click here for the Newsroom audio via BBC Sounds.

How much energy is used to deliver and listen to radio? (BBC Research and Development)

Is FM radio more energy-efficient than DAB? Do transmitters or audio devices consume the most electricity? What effect will switching off certain radio platforms have on energy use? As part of our work to improve the environmental impact of BBC services, we now have the answers to these questions and more.

Today, we are publishing our research which explores the energy footprint of BBC radio services, both as it stands now and how it may change in the future. This work is the first of its kind in analysing the novel area of radio energy use and forms an extension to the research we released back in September looking at the environmental impact of BBC television.

In our study, we considered the energy use across all available platforms, namely AM, FMDAB, digital television (DTV) and via internet streaming services (such as BBC Sounds), revealing which ones have the largest footprints. We also compared energy use at various stages in the radio chain – not just looking at what the BBC is directly responsible for, such as preparation (playout, encoding and multiplexing) and distribution (transmitters and internet networks), but also in the consumption of our content by audiences. This highlighted the key energy hotspots in the BBC radio system and where best to focus our efforts if we want to reduce our energy footprint.[]


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Photos from the Radiofreunde NRW DXpedition

All Photos by Radiofreunde NRW member Tom Kamp

After recently checking out a number of photos on the Radiofreunde NRW Facebook page, I asked if a member of this group could give me a little more detail about their DXpeditions. Many thanks to Joachim Geisau who writes:

Radiofreunde NRW is an independent association of SWL, radio amateurs and technology enthusiasts. We meet 2-3 times a year for a few days in a rural area far away from urban noise to listen to radio broadcasts from the most distant countries.

Normally we set up several large antennas, mostly 8-10 different ones, both active and passive.

The antenna setup consisted of:
– two magnetic loops with 1m diameter
– two wire loops with 20 m size
– one beverage antenna 80 mtrs length
– another beverage antenna 240 mtrs length
– a PA0RDT mini whip antenna
– a DL4ZAO UniWhip antenna

Their signals are distributed via a self-made distribution unit. A total of about 6-800 m of coax cable is used. This makes broadcasts audible from distances more than 10,000 km.

Wow!  Thank you, Joachim for the information and many thanks to Tom Kamp for the photos!

That antenna farm is most impressive and I love seeing all of the Stampfl radio equipment at the DXpedition.

Post readers: If you’re interested in Radiofreunde NRW’s events, you can contact them via their email address: info@radiofreunde-nrw.de They’re a multi-lingual group and can accommodate German, English, French, and Dutch!


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Introducing a German radio station for lonely dogs

(Source: OddityCentral via Sheldon Harvey and The International Radio Report)

German Radio Station Creates Special Program for Lonely Canines

When dogs get lonely, they sometimes keep themselves busy by wreaking havoc around the house, and that doesn’t really sit well with their owners. That’s why one German radio host, who also happens to be a dog owner, came up with the idea for a 24/7 program designed to relax canine listeners and make them feel like they are not alone.

When 30-year old Stephan “Stocki” Stock, a radio moderator at RadioTon, in Germany’s Baden-Württemberg region, announced the creation of a program aimed at dogs, everyone thought it was just a clever April Fools prank. Only it wasn’t. For the past three and a half months, “Hallo Hasso” has been pumping out music for lonely pooches both on the radio and online.[…]

Continue reading at OddityCentral.

Click here to listen to Hallo Hasso online.

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Frank shares 1991 recordings and original notes of station IDs and interval signals

Sony-ICF2010

SWLing Post reader, Frank, writes from Germany:

First let me say that I enjoy your blog a lot.

After a 2005-13 hiatus, I have rediscovered a childhood hobby and your reviews have helped me find my way to the post-Sony portable shortwave radio markets.

First, I obtained my “childhood dream” radio (Sony ICF 2001D), because at the time I made these recordings I was still in school and 1300 DM would have equaled over 1 year of pocket money, so a Supertech SR16HN had to do. I thought I got some fine results with this Sangean-Siemens re-branded receiver then, using a CB half-length antenna, a random wire, and much endurance.

The Supertech SR16HN (photo: Radiomuseum.com)

The Supertech SR16HN (photo: Radiomuseum.com)

I kept regular logs throughout the years, wrote to 50 international and pirate stations for QSL and compiled this cassette.

A few years before I got that trusty SR16HN, however, I recorded a few number stations (such as G3, Four Note Rising Scale etc) with an ordinary radio cassette recorder, and in 1991 I put them onto this tape as well. The other recordings are done with the same radio placed right in front of the SR 16HN.

Feel free to make use of these recordings. Most of it are the well-known international state-owned shortwave stations of the past; plus European pirates; plus number stations; and at the end, a few (off-topic) local Am and FM stations interval signals.

As I said, this collection I made shortly after the Wende/reunification period, when all former-GDR state broadcasters changed their names, sometimes more than once.

Please continue your good work on the blogs! Weather permitting I am often outside cycling and always have the tiny Sony ICF 100 with me (which I call my then-student’s dream radio of the later 90ies).

Cassette Side 1

Click to enlarge.

Frank’s original hand-written notes. Click to enlarge.

Click here to download Side 1, or listen via the embedded player below:

Cassette Side 2

Click to enlage.

Click to enlage.

Click here to download Side 2, or listen via the embedded player below:


Wow! Frank, what a treat to listen to all these station IDs!

I had forgotten how many interval signals have changed over time and how many, of course, have disappeared. This tape represents a flood of nostalgia for me.

I should add, too, that I’ve enjoyed hearing so many IDs in German. It’s funny, but we all get hooked on listening to language programming from our native or second languages. It makes me realize just how many broadcasters used to have German language services.

Again, many thanks, Frank, for taking the time to digitize these recordings and scan your original hand-written notes. This stuff is invaluable, in my book!

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Bayrischer Rundfunk to shut down four MW transmitters end of September 2015

Bayerischer-Rundfunk-Logo

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Alexander (DL4NO), who writes:

“Today I found a message that Bayrischer Rundfunk will shut down its four MW transmitters at the end of September:

http://www.br.de/unternehmen/inhalt/technik/mittelwelle-abschaltung-radio-100.html

The two higher-powered transmitters (Munich 100 kW, Nürnberg 20 kW) are on 801 kHz. The two smaller transmitters (Würzburg and Hof, both in the northern part of Bavaria) are on 729 kHz. The message also says that the BR is intensively updating its DAB+ transmitter net.

Personally I see positive and negative aspects: the 100 kW transmitter is about 15 km from here. Ist field strength tests the large-signal capabilities of my active receiving antenna. The negative aspects should be obvious.”

This is a very good point Alexander. When I listen to clear channel MW stations here in the evenings, I often wonder what it must be like for radio listeners nd amateur radio operators living in close proximity.

Many thanks for relaying the message about  Bayrischer Rundfunk.

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Russian spies used shortwave numbers stations and satellites inside Germany

towersThanks to Andrea Borgnino for sharing this article:

(Source: Der Spiegel)

A pair of Russian agents was convicted on Tuesday of spying in Germany for more than 20 years. Russian President Vladimir Putin is personally conducting the negotiations for a potential exchange, but now a new case is straining German-Russian relations.

A treasure in the exhibit room at the German Federal Criminal Police Office in the western city of Wiesbaden has aroused a great deal of curiosity among the world’s intelligence agencies. It looks like an ordinary, black laptop bag. It contains a Siemens hard drive, or at least it looks that way. But a notch reveals that it is not an off-the-shelf product. It’s a high-frequency satellite transmitter, with an antenna hidden in the flap of the bag.

The device is state-of-the-art military technology, a “top quality intelligence product,” raves an expert. In the spy wars, German authorities haven’t gotten their hands on anything this important in years. The significance of this high-tech device, however, approaches that of the legendary Enigma code machine from World War II. Domestic intelligence officials at the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) in Cologne are eager to examine the device. The American intelligence agencies, the CIA and the NSA, as well as Israel’s Mossad have also asked for permission to inspect the miraculous piece of equipment.

The satellite device served Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag as a connection back home. They were Russian spies who lived as agents in Germany for more than 20 years, until they were arrested in October 2011.

[…]In their dispatches, which the couple received with a shortwave radio, the agent controllers in Directorate S of the SWR referred to the Anschlags as “Pit” and “Tina.” They were given the state-of-the-art satellite equipment during a trip to St. Petersburg and Moscow. They also attended a course on the use of a decoding program called “Sepal” and an encoding program called “Parabola.”

This enabled “Pit” and “Tina” to establish a secure connection to Moscow. All they had to do was pay attention to the times when one of the six to eight satellites sent into space by Russian intelligence for spying activities came into range. A red light on their radio device signaled to the Anschlags that the satellite was approaching, while a blue light indicated the transmission of encoded messages.

Sometimes, when the equipment failed, the Anschlags placed the transmitter below one of their attic windows, among the fruit trees in the garden or on a nearby hill. The hills directly behind the house proved to be unsuitable, because nearby wind turbines apparently interrupted communication with the satellite.[…]

Read the full article “In the ‘Land of the Enemy’: Spies Strain German-Russian Ties” at Der Spiegel Online International.

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