Funkerberg Königs Wusterhausen is recognized as milestone of engineering history


On 16 July 2016 the Christmas Concert of 22 December 1920 was acknowledged as IEEE Milestone of engineering history.

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

The project started in 2011 with the idea aus dem Förderverein to submit the Christmas Concert of 22 December 1920 as IEEE Milestone of engineering history. Five years later it was time – on 16 July 2016 about 100 invited guests, invited by the Königs Wusterhausen mayor Dr. Lutz Franzke, came together in the Machine Hall of the Senderhaus 1 to participate in the unveiling of the memorial plaque.

Beschreibung IEEE
Meilenstein Funkerberg

The ceremony was opened by the Chairman of the Förderverein “Sender Königs Wusterhausen” e.V. Mr. Rainer Suckow telling small stories about some of the special guests.

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt


After that the Secretary of State for Culture, Mr. Martin Gorholt, brought greetings on behalf of the federal state government of Brandenburg and the Prime Minister Dr. Dietmar Woidke.

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

In his speech Mr. Martin Gorholt thanked for volunteer work done on the Funkerberg site which made the recognition as milestone possible. He appreciated the support given by the municipality of Königs Wusterhausen, and he referred to the international recognition of the Funkerberg, the birth place of broadcasting in Germany. Moreover he built a bridge from the past to the present and future.

„Experimentation, trying new ways and risking uncomfortable steps are sometimes necessary for a society to develop. The site Funkerberg is an impressive example. The view back can mobilize the researchers’ will and current skills in courageous competition of ideas and in excellent science for new, sustainable products and processes. From this point of view I am glad that we can set a milestone of engineering history.”

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Mathis from the Institute of Theoretical Electrical Engineering at the Leibniz University Hannover gave an entertaining presentation about Heinrich Hertz’s work and his discovery of electromagnetic waves. He talked about the circumstances of the Hertz experiments, and he referred to a key principle in the work of Heinrich Hertz:

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

„Often its history (discovery of electromagnetic waves) is presented as if Maxwell’s prediction would cause a paradigm shift in the sense of Thomas S. Kuhn, and the physicists would try to proof these waves experimentally. We are reminded of the search for gravitational waves which had their origin in Albert Einstein’s work exactly 100 years ago. That is not the case. Actually Maxwell’s theory has been followed by only a few until Hertz’s experiments. Even after that it was adopted only hesitantly.   The precursors were largely attributable unsuccessful because they were not familiar with Maxwell’s theory which is supporting the general knowledge that an experiment is problematic without previous theory. Hertz always recognized and appreciated the results of his precursors. … Although it required finally fortuitous circumstances during the work in his laboratory to find the way for the discovery of electromagnetic waves, these issues have been stuck in his intellectual world since his work on the Helmholtz prize question. He stayed attentively until a first indication for the waves came up.”


Mrs. Katharina Gerlach talked about the history of the Christmas Concert dated 22 December 1920. Mrs. Gerlach is the granddaughter of Johannes Gerlach, a former longtime station director. In an atmospheric presentation she described the special conditions under which the first broadcasting transmission came into being.

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

„Like a “real” birth it is not done with this one hour – the birth hour. It is much work and effort in advance, and much work and effort afterwards.
And so happened the legendary 1920 Christmas Concert. It must have been an exciting day for all persons involved because the aim was to test the transmission technology and receiving conditions in a “field trial”. The technicians had already experience with the transmission technology because of the commercial radio transmissions. Now the point was to find out the audio quality and the coverage of voice and music. It was so exciting because there was nothing comparable, at least not in Europe. Thus, an unprecedented event occurred in Königs Wusterhausen: The live transmission of music which was announced – so music and voice.”

Even a few personal words about Johannes Gerlach and his work on the site Funkerberg were not missing.

“Himself and Dr. Bredow played regularly cards. (Possibly playing cards was similar to playing golf today – a door opener?) Howsoever, they got on well in politics, too. When he risked a disciplinary transfer the ministerial director sent him to Königs Wusterhausen which was anything but a degradation. The family lived in a villa on the site Funkerberg, and my grandfather played at the concerts which became a tradition until 1926. Therefor the piano was loaned; in the early days the cello, the blankets wandered from the living house to the transmission room. My grandmother, a Belgian from Bruges, said: “Such a concert has to be finished gracefully – with the national anthem.” That became a nice tradition.”

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

Musical entertainment was provided by the “HotTwo Trio” from Königs Wusterhausen.


Mr. Frank Schulz, Chief Technology Officer of the company Media Broadcast GmbH, was impressed by the technical equipment which is on display in the museum.

He referred to the particular importance of the transmitting site Funkerberg as its origin of the company history and the connectedness until today.

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

“Today we are standing at the cradle of broadcasting in Germany. Who would guess how the broadcasting would develop, how it would characterize economy and society in such a pace. Within a few generations the technology was further developed, broadcasting and TV came up, color TV, the transmission paths were developed. Today we are standing here and honor the terrestrial technology, and we know that there are new technologies – satellite, cable and internet, and all these technologies trace back to this location. Not every technology can claim to have such a high potential of innovation.”

“Media Broadcast can retrospect to 100 years experience in broadcasting in connection with the jubilee we are celebrating today. Thus our company bridges the history and the modernity. We are still operating short wave transmitters for worldwide propagation on the transmitting site Nauen which was established in 1906, a few kilometers from here. At the same time we promote the terrestrial signal transmission. You can take Digitalradio as an example. In 2011 Media Broadcast started the national propagation in the DAB+ standard. Today you can receive broadcasting digitally. This digital radio offers better reception, better quality, new services, more programs, and all that at one frequency. Germany-wide!”

Prof. Dr. Heyno Garbe talked on behalf of the IEEE EMC Chapter Germany.

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

He presented the IEEE Milestone Program. At the beginning he drew a historic comparison.

“Roman Empire road builders placed stone obelisks along roads to provide reference points along the road. The main goal was to provide orientation and guidance to travellers. The milestone reassured them that the proper path is being followed, and indicated either distance travelled or the remaining distance to a destination. Since the Roman Empire this practice had remained for centuries. The establishment of the satellite based Global Navigation in combination of its implementation in small consumer electronics, like smart phones or navigation systems, made the milestones obsolete for navigation purposes.

But milestones did not vanish completely. At present we still find some stone marks at roadsides or landmarks. As I explained they are not used for navigation purposes, but they remind us on significant overland connections or important locations – such as Königs Wusterhausen.”

Prof. Garbe described the meaning of the milestones as follows.

“IEEE Milestones recognize the technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity found in unique products, services, publications and patents. In a wider sense the IEEE Milestones in Electrical Engineering and Computing mark the distance mankind has travelled on the path of technical development. In addition they remind us on key achievements that led to the technology we are presently used to.”


The unveiling ceremony of the IEEE Milestone “Germany’s First Broadcast Transmission”
was initiated by IEEE President Dr. Barry L. Shoop.

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

 In his speech he thanked expressly for the time, energy and expertise spent by the IEEE corporate supporters, namely the members of the “Förderverein Sender KW” e.V., and all other IEEE supporters. He acknowledged the site Funkerberg as milestone of engineering history and milestone of modern communications technology. Dr. Barry L. Shoop described the impressive range of internationally dedicated milestones in which the Funkerberg Milestone is a worthy part now.

“The work done here at Königs Wusterhausen was truly an advancement of technology in Germany. And as a technological advancement of such impact, that would have been enough to make it worthy of today’s IEEE Milestone dedication. But what makes IEEE Milestones unique is that the technology we recognize has to have been of benefit to people, to a society, or to humanity itself.
The Milestone we commemorate today at Königs Wusterhausen showed Germany’s government what was possible in this new medium.  Soon after, public radio broadcasting took root in Germany.  Most importantly, though, these new radio broadcasts kindled public interest in radio as a medium through which they could receive news, enjoy music, and be entertained.”


Foto CCBY Rainer Suckow| Rundfunkstadt

Finally Dr. Barry L. Shoop read the text of the Milestone plaque:

Königs Wusterhausen Radio Broadcast, 1920
In early 1920, in this building, technicians of the Königs Wusterhausen radio station together with employees from the Telegraphentechnisches Reichsamt, began experiments broadcasting voice and music using an arc transmitter. By late 1920, tests had become successful enough to transmit an instrumental concert on 22 December -- the so-called Christmas concert. This transmission is regarded as the birth of statutorily regulated broadcasting in Germany.

v.r. Prof. Dr. Heyno Garbe, Dr. Barry L. Shoop, Rainer Suckow 

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

Layout: Andreas Rothe,  Foto
CCBY Rainer Suckow | Rundfunkstadt

At the finale of the event a special thankyou was given. In honor of the Milestone Funkerberg the Förderverein “Sender KW” e.V. ordered customized medals. One side shows the Senderhaus 1. On the other side the IEEE Milestone of engineering history is acknowledged.

Foto: CCBY Marco Frenzel | Rundfunkstadt

20 pieces of these medals were minted in copper. They were awarded for special merits on the site Funkerberg as part of the dedication ceremony


Der IEEE Meilenstein Funkerberg in der Presse:
Märkische Allgemeine


Ein besonderer Dank für die Unterstützung
des Sender- und Funktechnikmuseums geht an die Stadt Königs Wusterhausen.
Die Festveranstaltung IEEE Meilenstein Funkerberg wurde unterstützt von

Metallbau Kalz
Königs Wusterhausen


Die Veranstaltung wurde realisiert in Zusammenarbeit mit: