Here is a television schedule for a certain Tuesday, 28 March:
2030: Newsreel clips
2045: “Etiquette for those in Love”: Seasonal tips for those in love, or who want to be
2130-2200: “Spring Showers”: Performance by the White Ravens”
The program started with the words (as translated by some computer on the internet),
“Attention, attention! Paul Nipkow television. We welcome all ethnic comrades and Volksgenossinnen in the large Fernsehstuben Berlin” and ended with this: “This stopped the operation of the television Reich end its current image management program. Were you satisfied? If so, please tell all your friends. Gefiel you can not say it, please contact us. Write to the Fernsehbetrieb reach the end of the line, Berlin, home of broadcasting. For the evening: marching music. Goodbye at the next shipment. Heil Hitler!”
The place is Berlin, and the year is 1939.
But in fact the first mass, practical use of television did not occur in English at all – it was developed by the Nazis, who rushed to transmit the first regular broadcast before the BBC, who in turn had arguably already been gazumped by experiments in the US. They switched on for the first time in March 1935, to small 18 x 22cm screens set up in special “television parlours”, sometimes in pairs, run by the Post Office.
It is a strange experience to watch. Even without our hindsight, it does seem vaguely brutish. The nasty, snappy salute of the blonde hostess is creepy, while the gruesome interview with Robert Ley, the head of Strength Through Joy, just makes him seem stupid. Albert Speer is interviewed, pulling up in his fast open top Merc, and sitting casually at the wheel, the very image of a European playboy, unlike the busy technocrat we expect of the propaganda machine –
The film is full of instructional videos, about items like gardening for the Fatherland, keeping scrapts for pigs and a course on Nazi marriage for brides-to-be. The contempt and intrusion is palpable – the feeling that a small-minded elite was sculpting a vision of proper suburban life for citizens who are simultaneously little more than clay and also the conquerors of the world.
Via Danny Yee.