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TELE-audiovision International — The World‘s Leading Digital TV Industry Publication

— 01-02/2015

This is Thomas Krüger next to a transmit-

ter tube in mint condition for medium wave

signals. As always, there’s a story behind

the product: “RIAS radio signals from

West Berlin were hugely popular among

GDR listeners, but not welcome at all

by GDR authorities. Jammers were

installed that used exactly the same

frequencies as RIAS and caused

heavy interference with the signals

from the West.” The replacement

tube for one of those jamming

transmitters is the one on

display in the museum. A

relict from the Cold War and

testament to a regime that

invested absurd amounts of

money to jam signals from

the ‘enemy’.

From a purely technical point of view,

there had never been a need for antenna

amplifiers in what used to by the Ger-

man Democratic Republic (GDR). Under

communist rule the state made sure all

TV and radio signals of the government-

controlled broadcasting system were

readily available all over the country. It

was only in a few exceptional cases that

amplification of already strong signals

made sense. So why were antenna am-

plifiers available in East Germany in the

first place?

We met two men who should know.

They both run a museum with a large

variety of antenna amplifiers on display,

all of which were used in the former GDR

at some time. How come Thomas Krüger

and Günter Wünsch are in the know

about this particular aspect of television

reception? They both used to work in a

plant that was specialised in the produc-

tion of antenna amplifiers in East Ger-


Today, Thomas Kruger and Gunter

Wunsch jointly run a business with the

name SAT-Kabel



which they founded in August of 1990.

They have a workforce of almost 40 em-

ployees and produce similar products as

their former employer, VEB Elektronische

Geräte Burgstädt (EGB). As a communist

country, the GDR had nationalised al-

most the entire economy, and VEB was

a German abbreviation that appeared in

thousands of company names, meaning

nationally-owned enterprise.

Burgstädt is a small town near Chem-

nitz in eastern Germany. In SAT-Ka-

bel’s seminar room Thomas Kruger and

Gunter Wunsch have set up their mu-

seum. Several display cabinets present

antenna amplifiers made by VEB EGB, as

well as similar products dating from that

time. “This entire line of business can

be considered a contradiction in terms,

if you think about it. People in the GDR

hardly ever required an amplifier to re-

ceive the country’s state-run channels,

but naturally they all wanted to catch

signals from West Germany as well.”

By law this was not allowed in the GDR,

which meant that interested people and

– above all – manufacturers of required

equipment had to be creative in order to

meet that demand without actually call-

ing a spade a spade. “So the make-belief

argument was that antenna amplifiers

allowed to service several apartments

with the same cable, which in turn al-

Antenna Amplifier Museum in Burgstädt, Germany


Looking back at TV

reception in former

East Germany