Memories of number stations by Christian S. in Germany
Music in article :
Bert Kaempfert - Wonderland by night. AUDIO
               Mazowsze - Cyt, cyt.  YOUTUBE VIDEO

 

I heard numbers stations first when I was five years old - in 1970, when I visited my grand-parents in Hamburg who got a big Loewe Opta radio and TV set built into a sideboard. This radio was able to receive shortwave very well. Maybe because of an error, this radio could receive the shortwave frequencies from about 5.4 MHz to about 15.7 MHz (normally, German home radios started their shortwave with the 49 metre radio band or short before, at about 5.85 MHz). - Well, since 1973 I lived there for about two years, and the big radio stood in my room, so I could use it very often.

The first numbers station I ever heard was G8 - what else? -, followed by G3. In those years I didn't think to collect recordings of these stations, although I could handle a cassette recorder since I was seven. But I already knew that numbers stations are no official broadcasts, and I was fascinated by the many different sometimes electronic voices which could be heard as well as the often very strange pronunciation and the different musical identifications some of them had. I especially remember the Sunday mornings in 1973 and later, when the area from 5.4 to 5.8 MHz was full of number stations in different languages, mainly German, Czech and English, some of them, although no more active, very well known even today.

First, I want to tell you something about a station which could be heard for years till about 1980/81, but couldn't be found on "CONET Project" as well as in your collection. I mean the Czech "Piano piece" station.

It was broadcasting on at least two frequencies, one about 5,5, the other 6,6 MHz. When I heard it first, it was broadcasting in the late morning hours at about 9 or 10 UTC, later it could be heard also in the afternoon at about 1530 UTC.

It always started with a 1000 Hz test tone for about five minutes, followed by the tuning signal, an excerpt of a piano piece nobody exactly knows what it is. Some people speculated that it might be by Tchaikovsky, titled "The lark". It was played from a tape on which it was recorded twice, and you could easily hear where the ends of the tape were put together. Well, this tuning sign was broadcasted till the next full or half hour mark (-00 or -30) and then was interrupted by a natural voice - mostly male, but sometimes there also was a female one -, reading numbers in Czech, first calling out the addressees and when the messages for them was sent:

"487 487 05 182 182 10" ("ctyri ossum sedum; ctyri ossum sedum; nulla biet; jedna ossum dwa; jedna ossum dwa; jedna nulla")

After five minutes the broadcast of the first message began, introduced by "pozor, pozor", followed by the first addressee's number, a two-digit identifier and the group count. Then there were the well-known five figure groups, each one sent twice. After the first message the two-digit identifier and the group count were repeated, and the next message followed. When this was finished, the tuning signal could be heard for a while till the voice said "konec, konec".

This station also had a sister station which used the same frequencies and the same voices but had no musical tuning signal. It always started with a 1000 Hz test tone for about 5 minutes, followed by a very slowly spoken opener: "555 555 555; 405 405 405; 05; 185 185 185; 09" ("pyet pyet pyet; pyet pyet pyet; pyet pyet pyet; ctyri nulla pyet; ctyri nulla pyet; ctyri nulla pyet; nulla pyet; jedna ossum pyet; jedna ossum pyet; jedna ossum pyet; nulla deviet")

After five minutes, the first message was broadcasted, introduced by the addressee's number (three times), a two-digit identifier and the group count (sometimes, especially in 1980/81, only one group), followed by the word "Rozhlace" (spoken rosla tse", which presumably means "broadcasting", and the message followed, now in higher tempo. At the end of the first message the two two-digit identifier and group count was repeated and the next message followed as described before. The broadcast ended with three 0s. - This station also existed in a Morse version.

Now here are some words to G18, a station which seemed to be active only till about 1973/74. It could be heard every day to different times on different frequencies. One of these frequencies was about 5815 kHz, G18 at least once could be heard at the upper end of the 49 metre radio band as well as higher frequencies.

As far as I can remember, it starts at the full hour with the tuning signal which can be heard in the recording on "CONET Project" as well as on your website (the 1st tone is missing). Then a five figure group followed, presumably a kind of addressee number, then two two-figure groups, the second one was presumably the group count. - This intro was broadcasted for five minutes, then the message began, introduced by "achtung, achtung, achtung". 

The message used to be not longer than about 20 groups, due to the slow speed of giving out the numbers, maybe also to save the counting machine which had presumably been a very old model. You can hear those hard noises between the figures in the unfortunately very short recording. - After the message was finished, the figures from the intro were sent again, now without the tune, and the word "ende". The station always signed off very shortly after the last word. - This station had also a sister station: The tune was played much faster on an organ, and the format of sending numbers had been quite different. But as this station could be heard very seldom, I can't give further information about it.

As I am blind, it is impossible for me to look at a radio display to see which frequency it shows. So I can't give exact information about the frequencies the stations broadcasted, only by comparing with stations whose frequencies I know now. G18's main frequency was 5 kHz below the 5,8 domain of G8 (5820).

5815 kHz also was used by the ancestor of G11. This station could be heard regularly for years at fixed times. One of them was on Saturdays at 13:00 UTC. The German version started with the Bert Kaempfert tune "Wonderland by night" in its original version by the orchestra Bert Kaempfert and the trumpeter Charley Tabor (recorded by Polydor in 1961). The tune was played twice, then the record was turned and the B song "Dreaming the blues" was broadcast, also twice, followed by the word "ende", spoken by a female voice. For message broadcasting other frequencies were in use. These programs started with the same introduction which needed at least 8 minutes for playing this old Bert Kaempfert single twice, followed by a female voice with strong polish accent, for example:

"Achtung - 67-222 - 67-222 - 78495 - 78495'''" ("seks sibben Strisch tvau tvau tvau''' - sibben ascht fierrr nojen fünef'''"

Here, the two figures before the "Strich" meant the group count. Each five-figure group was sent twice. After the message came "Ich wiederholen" ("I repeat"), and the message was sent again. The broadcast ended with "Ende". - Only once, I heard a Polish version of this station. That happened in 1977. The receiver was a Grundig Satellit 2000 which could scan the whole medium wave and shortwave nonstop. The frequency was in the 2 or 3 MHz area, and I stopped there because it was strange for me to hear music in a frequency band where no music stations could be heard. 

They played a polish Mazowsze tune, as I know now, called "Cyt, cyt", played and sung by the Polish folk choir and dance ensemble. When they played it once more, I became sure that it had to be a numbers station, and I was right: I heard the same voice as in the German version described before sending numbers in Polish. The way of calling out these numbers was a very unusual and therefore remarkable: A high pitched voice intonated the first four figures in a five figure group at a very high tone, the last figure lower, so that you could get the impression that there was a lady who sang out numbers. It had to be a natural voice, because sometimes there were short breaks during the recitation of a five figure group - that sounded like the lady's not sure if the sent number was right.

I am sure that this station belongs to the same family as G11 and S11 because of many reason. First, they had used the same voices which are still used, today mostly digitised. And when I heard G11 for the first time, it happened on a frequency which was used regularly by the "Wonderland"-station shortly before. At the end of the seventies I no longer was able to use the big radio set of my grand-parents but another one which had a shortwave from 49 to 19 metres. There, on a frequency of about 6,5 or 6,6 MHz, the "Wonderland"-station appeared every Saturday at 13:00 UTC without a numbers message, just music only and "ende". At the end of 1979 or 1980 these regular broadcasts ended, and some weeks after that, at the same frequency to the same time G11 appeared for the first time with "751-00".

In the beginning of the seventies, the NNN-stations (V18, G12) could already be heard. The format was the same as in the eighties, but the speed was a little higher and the voices used were different. The Hungarian voice was more monotone. That nervous one, you can hear in the recording on your website as well as in "CONET Project" came out in 1976 and was used till the beginning of the eighties, also for German transmissions.

The G20 station I heard in 1978 for the first time. It was interesting to notice that for every new message another tuning signal was used. Unfortunately, I deleted some of my recordings of this station, because some more tunes had been used. - I have not the opinion of Volker K. who said that this station seemed to be of Swiss origin. I think the accent the voices had is Hungarian. I have the feeling I heard these voices also in German broadcasts of Radio Budapest. There is another reason concerning the relation of G20 to G4. The "3-note oddity" should operate from the Budapest area. Sometimes they also used identical tuning signals: The first 3-note oddity (version 1) had been used by G20 some years before, as well as "I get Ideas" and that one in your list of G20 tunes you called "unknown" - it's an early Herb Alpert recording.

Finally, I want to write something about V1 which I heard first in 1978 and since then very often, but not only with numbers messages. Especially in the beginning of the eighties, this station could often be heard with broadcasts which contained no messages. After the "Skylark" was sent twice, just "Terminat, terminat, terminat" ended the Broadcasts. But the Romanians tested another form of secret message broadcasting in this time: "Say it with music". I could hear three different broadcasts where after the "Skylark" another piece of music was sent (that one only once), followed by the well known "Terminat, terminat, terminat". As far as I know, three different songs were used: First there was one, German people would call it "Schlager" or "Schnulze", a melodious and in that case melancholic tune. The second was an aria from an opera, and the third a Romanian folk song. Unfortunately, my recordings of these broadcasts don't exist any more.