Monday, August 13, 2012

Arabic Section of Radio Zeesen

Radio Zeesen, name after a village near Berlin, was the German shortwave broadcasting station near Berlin-Konigswusterhausen. Consisting of a lattice tower of pitch pine timbers, it was one of Germany's first short-wave broadcasting transmitters. It was equipped with four transmitting arms, at 90-degree separation, surmounted by two omnidirectional aerials. In 1939, the wooden tower was replaced by a 70-metre high steel mast with a single omnidirectional aerial. Thus, the reception of Radio Zeesen was better than that of any other station broadcasting,

The propaganda ministry had supervised the station since April 1933. In September 1939, it came under the direction of department of the Foreign Office headed by Ernst Wilhelm Bohle. Its Arabic section had several transmitters in Athens and Tunis from 1940 to 1942. The Arab Committee of the Foreign Office determined the content of the Arabic broadcasts. 

The Arabic programs were rabble-rousing rather than factual. Their aim was not to inform, but to incite antisemitism and to boast of German successes. They were targeted at a mass audience rather than intellectuals. Thus, the United Nations was dubbed the “United Jewish Nations,” and the Jordanian king, Emir Abdullah, was mocked as “Rabbi Abdullah” for wanting to negotiate with the Zionists.

The programmes were, however, produced professionally. Inflammatory harangues were skilfully interspersed with Koranic citations and musical interludes adapted to local tastes. Among the Arab native speaker were Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Rashid Ali al-Kaylani (ex-Iraqi prime minister), and Habib Birgiba (later the president of Tunisia). 

Radio Zeesen, and its Arabic section, ceased operation in April 1945.

More Information
Jeffrey Herf, The Jewish Enemy. Nazi Propaganda During World War II And The Holocaust (Belknap Press, 2006)
Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (Yale University Press, 2011) 

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