Beaming the word of the GDR – The Berlin TV tower

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The iconic TV tower on Alexanderplatz is one of the most well-known landmarks in the world, the symbol of Berlin and a tourist lure like no other.

In the sixties the GDR government had the TV tower built, not least, to demonstrate the strength and efficiency of the socialist party system.

On 3rd October 1969 the TV tower started operation, beaming state channels DDF 1 and DFF2 in colour for the first time.

One of the most memorable shows to be broadcast daily was the official news journal “Kamera, Action”, which was almost certain to mention leader Erich Honecker a dozen times during every show.


In 1987, when US President Ronald Reagan issued his famous challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev at the Brandenburg Gate, he made special reference to the TV Tower:

Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw: treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind.

Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere, that sphere that towers over all Berlin, the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.

Upon reunification, the DFF ceased to be the state broadcaster of the former GDR.

Nowadays, the tower beams local, national and international TV channels in addition to most of the FM radio stations in Berlin.


Unsurprisingly, with almost 1.2 million visitors every year, the TV tower is one of the most popular attractions for tourists in the city.

For those interested in East German radio, the Funkhaus Nalepastraße was the headquarters of broadcasting organisation for the GDR from 1952 until German reunification.


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