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History of Broadcasting in Northern Germany 1945-1955

History of Broadcasting in Northern Germany 1945-1955

This project of the “Forschungsstelle Geschichte des Rundfunks in Norddeutschland [Research Centre for the History of Broadcasting in Northern Germany] (FGRN)" – a cooperative project between the Hans-Bredow-Institut with the NDR (North German Broadcasting), the WDR (West German Broadcasting) and the Universität Hamburg (Department of Languages, Literature and Media I) – devoted itself to the media-historical transformation process occurring in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War. The subject of the investigation was the history of the Northwest German Broadcasting (NWDR), which started as a radio station of the British Military Government in May 1945 and was established on January 1, 1948 as the first public broadcasting institution in Germany.


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Project Description

As a first step, aspects of its organisational, institutional and communications history, which trace the struggle between the British and the Germans over a new broadcasting model in northwest Germany, were especially analysed. The public service model was asserted against various forms of resistance and was subjected to severe supervision when the German NWDR finally took over responsibility. Under the influence of a variety of political forces, the NWDR was dissolved as the central broadcasting institution for the entire British occupation zone at the end of 1955; the North German and the West German broadcasting were founded on January 1, 1956. A summary of these findings was published in the first volume of the Geschichte des Nordwestdeutschen Rundfunks [History of Northwestern German Broadcasting] by the Hoffmann and Campe publishing house in December 2005; it was publicly presented on the occasion of a celebration in the guesthouse of the University of Hamburg.

As a second step, the research centre worked on the various programme offerings of the NWDR. Comprehensive studies regarding programming history were conducted, dealing with the informative, educational, cultural and entertainment programmes of the NWDR. In addition, the history of television, as it began in Hamburg, Berlin and Cologne after the end of the Second World War, and the content it offered, was presented. A comprehensive publication of these findings ensued in May 2008, with the second volume of the Geschichte des Nordwestdeutschen Rundfunks [History of Northwestern German Broadcasting] by the Hoffmann and Campe publishing house. On June 2, 2008, the NDR and the FGRN issued an invitation to the foyer of the Radio House 12 at the NDR and presented the volume publicly with a framework programme tracing broadcasting history.

Simultaneously with its work in the two volumes of “NWDR History”, the research centre participated in a more extensive research project on the pre-history of the WDR.

Project Information


Duration: 2002-2008

Third party

Cooperation Partner

Contact person

Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner
Senior Researcher Media History

Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner

Forschungsstelle Mediengeschichte
Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17-0

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