(*clip -Daniel Stadermann)
The former country of East Germany was renowned for both its excessive State security and its extensive espionage missions. The huge reliance that was placed on the country by the KGB resulted in a wealth of nightly broadcasts to East German backed spies in the West. The unification of the two Germanys put an abrupt end to these activities and these station's broadcasts from Nauen and Magdeburg finally left the air on Wednesday, 9th May 1990.
1. Transmission Format. The preamble began five minutes before the actual transmission time, which was either the hour or half-hour. It consisted of a four note increasing musical scale, and was repeated continuously up until the beginning of the transmission five minutes later. The traffic began with a traffic list which was repeated a set number of times depending on the number of messages in the transmission:
The first five-digit number is believed to have been a traffic address indicator while the final group refers to the minutes into the broadcast at which these messages would begin.
Note that there was no 'Ende' at the end of every single message, only at the end of transmission.
As well as gaining fame on Radio Sweden's "Sweden Calling DX'ers". This station was also aired on the BBC Television's "Six O'clock News" as a demonstration of the "Spy transmissions that are transmitted each day from the East." Traffic was presented at 17 groups per minute by a computer synthesised female voice which had a very slow, gentle character to it. Pronunciation followed the usual East German guide-lines with zwei, funf and neun being rendered as 'tzwo', "funnef' and "Noi-in" respectively.
1. eins 6. zechs
The introduction of the word "trennung", which roughly translates as "dash" or "hyphen, is unique to only two formats, and is generally unheard of in the German numbers world. Traffic was arranged in a message format that allowed for between three and eight pieces of individual traffic. The usual construction was of 3,4.6.7 or 8 items per broadcast. Group counts were usually within the limits of 5 and 60. Total message counts varied for each broadcast:
3 messages 50 to 100 groups
In the event of a broadcast overrunning its 25-minute allocated airtime, which was often the case, then the next transmission followed on the next available half-hour slot. Traffic was repeated two hours after first broadcast on the repeat frequency. Morning traffic usually contained 3 or 4 messages, while evening traffic is usually composed of 6, 7 or 8 messages.
3. Operating Frequencies: Amplitude Modulation
4.Morse Transmissions. This station also appeared less frequently in a mysterious secondary format.
30424 30424 30424 30424 30424
Each number was verbally repeated for about five minutes, following a tone, which varied in length from between 10 to 20 seconds. Morse A's were then repeated for anything up to thirty minutes, before the next number in the series was selected and the whole sequence began all over again. Transmissions were generally considered rare, with one broadcast in six months not being uncommon. Broadcast times were always between the hours of 0700 and 1300 with the transmission being carried on two parallel frequencies. Transmissions were noted on 6571 kHz and 7928 kHz in upper sideband.
Interesting Footnote. The thawing of the "Cold War", initiated by Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, which lead to the Brussels conference of world powers in November 1990, finally silenced the East German numbers stations on the evening of Wednesday, 9 May, 1990, when final messages were sent out to agents in the field. As the West German DPA news agency reported;
"They were always preceded by a gong being struck several times. Then on shortwave, a frequency of 3220 kHz, (really 3258kHz) one heard a synthetic voice speaking in a metallic tone: eg. one, seven, five, three, eight, combinations of numbers in groups of five conveying coded news from East Berlin to agents in the FGR and neighbouring foreign countries. Once again the routine broadcast was expected on Thursday evening by the FGR counter intelligence service, but it never came. The voice of espionage has fallen silent."