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Radio Berlin International (1967-90)

Radio Berlin International (RBI), also called the ‘Voice of the German Democratic Republic’, began its journey as an international broadcasting station on the 20th of May, 1959. Until the last broadcast aired on the 2 October 1990, after which the station was merged into Deutsche Welle (DW) as the sole German foreign broadcaster of a re-unified Germany, it had been on air for over thirty-one years.


The station was an important medium for presencing the GDR in five continents across the world. Its South East Asian Department aired shows in English whereas the Hindi Division, established as a part of the department in 1967, particularly targeted Hindi-speaking audiences in India.

RBI Pennant sent to Arvind Srivastava in 1980s, Private Collections Srivastava, Madhepura, Bihar, Photo: Jyothidas KV, 2019.

While some of the Hindi show’s moderators were Indians, several presenters, journalists, mail-bag programme moderators, and staff were from the GDR and had learnt Hindi at East Berlin’s Humboldt University. Most of them had never been to India but joined the station to actively engage with the language and its native speakers, who were a continent away.


Over the 23 years of its existence, the Hindi programme acquired immense popularity among hundreds of listeners and listeners’ clubs across suburban and rural Hindi-speaking parts of India. 


QSL Card sent to Arvind Srivastava in acknowledgement of a reception report written on RBI's Hindi Programme, sent in  1982 by RBI's Hindi Division,

Private Collections A. Srivastava, Madhepura, Bihar. Photo: Jyothidas KV, 2019.


Interested in knowing more about RBI?


Some publications on RBI in India by Anandita Bajpai:

  •  A. Bajpai, "Objects of Love: Remembering Radio Berlin International in India", in: E. Emery, M. Hines and E. Preuß (eds.), The GDR Tomorrow: Rethinking the East German Legacy,   (Oxford: Peter Lang, 279–310), 2024.

  • "Herzliche Wellelängen: Radio Berlin International in Indien zur Zeit des Kalten Krieges". in: M. Mann (Hg.), Modernes Indien in Deutschen Archiven (MIDA): Im Memoriam Dietmar Rothermund, Heidelberg: Draupadi Verlag, 2022.

  • “Warm Wavelengths: Radio Berlin International in India during the Cold War”, in: Bajpai, A (ed.), Cordial Cold War: Cultural Actors in India and the German Democratic Republic, London, New Delhi, et. al.: Sage Publications, 2021.

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