Les archives Radio Bruxelles

The Radio Bruxelles - Zender Brussel archives

On 13 February, UNESCO celebrated the 9th edition of the World Radio Day. This was the occasion for CegeSoma to highlight its radio archives, in particular those produced by by the German radio institution Radio Bruxelles-Zender Brussel between 1940 and 1945. They can now be accessed online and in our reading room.

Collection description :

The archives of Radio Bruxelles - Zender Brussel were part of the evidence requisitioned by the military prosecutor during the post-war trials for acts of collaboration. These archives were entrusted to CegeSoma when it was founded in the late 1960s. They contain both radio program recordings broadcast by the occupying forces from the premises of the “National Institute of Radio Broadcasting” (INR) during the Second World War as well as transcripts and other preparatory files of these same programs.

 

The radio  constituted a particularly efficient means of communication during the war. News from the front, official and clandestine speeches, encrypted messages and propaganda broadcasts were transmitted daily to Belgian citizens. Many families have memories of evenings spent together around the radio. The radio served as a real tool of information and persuasion, used by both the allied forces and the German occupiers.

 

During the Second World War, the Belgian authorities produced their broadcasts mainly from London and Léopoldville. From the first hours of German invasion onwards, the programs of the National Radio Institute (INR) focused on immediate news in order to inform the population in real time about the course of events.

The second aspect of propaganda was developed by the Germans in occupied territory. From May 28,1940, they requisitioned INR buildings. The technical equipment having been destroyed by Belgian authorities prior to their departure to London, the German forces had to operate with mobile transmitters for the duration of the conflict.

On July 31, an order from the Militärverwaltung officially gave birth to Radio Brussels and Zender Brussels. These two new entities could rely on almost 500 Belgian civilians to ensure their operation, most of them being former members of the INR. The type of propaganda diffused depended first and foremost on the military administration, but was also overseen by Goebbels in Berlin.

Unfortunately, a large proportion of the radio archives of the Second World War has disappeared but not all. This is the case, at least partially, for the programs transmitted by the occupier from inside the INR facilities. These facilities, which had been requisitioned by the General Prosecutor upon liberation, were then administered by the National Archives of Belgium and later by CegeSoma after its foundation in the late 1960s as the Center of Research on the Second World War.

The collection of 78-rpm discs of the programs Radio Bruxelles and Zender Brussel kept by CegeSoma is made up of one thousand discs for the francophone program and of about 2,000 discs for the Flemish one, as well as approximately 500 discs in German. First held at the premises of Centre Place de Louvain, then at the Residence Palace and Square de l’Aviation, the discs are currently in an air-conditioned room of the CegeSoma depot located at Rue de Belgrade in Forest, a suburb of Brussels. In addition to the audio archives of Radio Bruxelles and Zender Brussel, CegeSoma also holds the transcripts of the broadcasts as well as several administrative files (documents AA33, AA1321 and AA1522), briefly described in the corresponding inventories.

Thanks to the digitization program digit03 funded by the Ministry of Science, all audio broadcasts are now available in digital form in the reading room of CegeSoma. The digitization of paper archives has already begun but this project, in part carried out by our in-house teams, is expected to be completed within the next two or three years. However, transcripts of the programs produced between July 1940 and March 1942 are already available in the reading room, as well as all the programs of l’Echo du Jour. It is important to note, however, that these are the transcripts which were kept after the war. They do not cover all the programs produced by Radio Bruxelles and Zender Brussel. They do not always necessarily correspond to the audio formats we keep either.

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