"Der Westen Leuchtet" 

NEW View this as a video clip. 
Thanks to Matthias M. in Preston for the clip.
"Der Westen Leuchtet" VIDEO clip.
Showing an agent receiving and decoding a message.

Buy the video - Tnx Kristian

Thanks go to Daniel S. in Germany for providing the sound clip, photos and scene description from this German film featuring the G16 2-letter station.

Der Westen Leuchtet sound clip.   
(Daniel S. in Germany)

In a Germany still divided between East and West, the glow of western gilt-edged security, and the pizzazz of fashion, cars, and computers create a "light trap" that lures East Germans into fantasizing about a better life. When a spy from East Germany goes through the motions of picking up his contact in Munich, he is led into her double life in an opulent villa, with an attractive and lusty daughter. As detectives and the police come in and out of the scenario, it becomes difficult to know who has been caught in the "light trap" and who might be a double agent -- or not. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide

Movie "Der Westen leuchtet" (Germany, 1981/82) broadcasted (again) in the German TV channel ZDF at 10 November 2005 0000-0145 UTC.
Description of the movie from the programme guide:

"A secret agent of the East German secret service with the code Name Harald Liebe (played by Armin Mueller-Stahl) is sent to Munich, West Germany to check whether the Agent "Heinz" got over to the other side. "Heinz" puts out as the pretty female chief secretary Dagmar Ostfeld. The petty bourgeois eastern agent becomes dazzled by Dagmar and her luxurious lifestyle."

Near the beginning of the movie there is an interesting scene with a real numbers station sound. I recorded the programme and tried to get the most details out of it by means of slow motion. Here is my description (some details and comments as footnotes marked by square brackets):

Liebe in his hotel room, inspecting his equipment. He takes an electric shaver out of its pouch, removes the top {Picture 01}, slides up the longhair trimmer.

 "Liebe" removes the top of his electric shaver

A stack of film cards appears {Picture 02} (obviously his stock of One Time Pads [1]). 

A stack of microfilm cards appears after sliding up the longhair trimmer

He takes it into the hand and thumbs it through {Picture 03}

He thumbs through the stack of microfilm cards

Next, a transistor radio [2] is shown on top of the desk. He takes the radio {Picture 04}, {Picture 05} 

Tuning the Sony ICF-7800 .                                   TV screen detail: the dial and the S-meter of the ICF-7800. Note that the rolling dial below the fixed green pointer shows, only just visible, a (pretended) SW frequency just below 4 MHz.

and turns the tuning knob; typical shortwave sounds are audible (this is the moment where my 1 minute 15 seconds audio clip starts). He tunes the radio to the G16 call "Lima Golf", then he puts the radio back onto the desk, plugs an earphone into the radio and puts the earphone in his ear [3]. The station changes to the text "Es liegen Mitteilungen vor fuer 818 818 Achtung", then into 5-figure groups [4].

He clicks on top of a ballpoint pen and starts writing down the number groups. The camera shows him at first from behind {Picture 06},

"Liebe" shown from behind while he starts writing down 
the number groups, the desk with the radio in the background.

then pen and paper close-up {Picture 08}

Close-up of pen, paper and OTP sheet: "Liebe" writing the 3rd 5fg

When he starts writing below one of the OTP sheets which lies on the paper near the top edge. The next take pans from a position right of him over the radio and the paper to his face. Then it shows again a close-up of the paper with the numbers {Picture 13}.

TV screen detail: in this take, the OTP sheet is shortly
shown that close that some 5fg actually become readable

The transmission ends (without "Ende"), slight noise on the frequency (my audio clip ends here). He takes out the earphone and reads the text.

The camera shows the paper again and close-up with a slight time-lapse: He has already started to decipher the numbers. Here, he writes one plain text letter right to each 5-figure group, brings the OTP closer to the writing position [5] [6]. He ends up with the following 16 groups:
40509 A
37074 N
34171 K
70144 U
40278 N
03410 F
55156 T
48831 H
77171 E
15379 I
73606 N
26007 Z
43883 2
13743 2.
3?116 1
691?0 3
so that the plain text is "ANKUNFT HEINZ 22.13" ("ARRIVAL HEINZ 22.13")

The camera shows "Liebe" frontal with the desk in the foreground, taking a final look at the message {Picture 14}.

"Liebe" takes a final look of the message just decoded

He stands up from the desk; the radio is still on and produces faint hissing and humming noise (audio clip ends here). He takes the sheet of paper into the bathroom, holds a burning match to the lower right corner [7] {Picture 16}.

He destroys the sheet of paper with the decoded message.

There were four more scenes when G16 was played in the background, but obviously only to produce an atmosphere of suspense.

To sum it up, in my opinion the makers of the movie tried to give a realistic impression and it is praiseworthy that they used a real number station recording (we have seen movies with mock-up number stations). I think I found some peculiarities and inaccuracies in some details and others may find many more. However, I think it is a nice example of numbers stations in a movie!


[1] Cards of film showing some regular pattern of rectangular spots in this shot. Later, closeups show clearly a table of 13 rows and 5 columns of 5 figure groups

[2] A sharp look reveals the SONY sign; model unknown to me. The housing design is quite unique: it is folding  in the middle by a hinge. A speaker on the left half, the tuning knob, scale, signal meter and other controls on the right side. Two telescopic antennas on top, one on each half of the housing. Band selector for FM, SW and MW (position SW); the tuned frequency seems to be just below 4 MHz.  The radio seems not to have SSB mode and it sounds like AM mode; this matches to the fact that G16 was almost always in AM.

What the scale seems to show is quite far away from the G16 frequencies around 4 MHz, 3262 and 4543.

[3] In reality, as we know, with most of the radio sets the speaker is switched off when the earphone plug is inserted - not so for the movie viewers...

[4] There is nothing of the typical tootle sounds of this station and no group count ("Gruppen")

Another question arises: why should an East German agent in the west be able to decrypt the G16 message and get his instructions from G16, a West German BND station? He was definitely *not* working for the BND, as near the end of the movie they set a trap for him in a cinema (where he was to meet a contact person) which he only just escaped. 

[5] This is quite certainly a very simplified, abbreviated presentation of the deciphering of an OTP coded message. The details may vary, but normally he would be expected to rearrange the five-figure groups to groups of two; then he would have to write the OTP figures below the cipher figures and subtract them; then he would lookup the plain text letter from an additional table (table of plain text letters against difference figures).

[6] The OTP is clearly visible in this take and even some five figure groups are readable.

[7] In reality, he should better destroy the OTP sheet too since it must not be reused and is only unnecessary evidence...

Comments by "Kopf"

  I called Jochen "Kopf" to read this description to him and play the audio clip via phone (he still has no replacement for his defective computer, thus cannot play audio files). He had some further comments on it:

The G16 clip sounds authentical for the version of G16 transmissions from 1979 on, it is the well known Lima Golf version of the eighties. From his memory, these transmissions were on 5770 (maybe 5775) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays at 0800z, Thursdays at 1300z with repeats at Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 0900z on 7440. Due to the other shortwave signals which can be heard while the actor tunes the radio (from higher to lower frequencies) to G16, "Kopf" favours the frequency 5770 (which clearly differs from the frequency slightly below 4 MHz in the movie).

The 80s version of G16 had the tootle sounds alternating with the announcement "Lima Golf" etc., which made it easy for the producers of the film to remove it. Between the last "Lima Golf" anncouncement and  "Es liegen Mitteilungen vor..:" there actually was no more tootle anyway.

"Kopf" also acknowledges the missing group count "xxx Gruppen" and also missing are the "Ende" and the long tone which were typical for G16 messages. A single 16 fg message also seems quite short.

Thanks once again to Daniel!