I Want My 3rd Reich TV!

Television was introduced by RCA in the United States at the 1939 New York World’s Fair (bottom), but actually premiered in Nazi Germany in 1935, beating out the competition here and in Great Britain. Reich Broadcast Director Eugen Hadamovsky (who was also a deputy of propaganda–and who I quote in Iron Fists) launched “Greater German Television,” which broadcast entertainment and political programming into the homes of a mere few thousand Berliners who owned sets. The hope was that everyone would eventually be a proud recipient. The extraordinary Spiegel TV documentary, Television Under The Swastika, by Michael Kloft is now available in the United States as a DVD but also on the web in its entirety here and here. It’s well worth a look to see the birth of TV and never-before-seen programs (including variety, exercise, and dance shows, featuring a Nazi cowgirl hopping through a lariat and a tennis player balancing tennis balls, as well as rare footage of Adolf Hitler himself) direct from Nazi Germany. The film certainly underscores how visual media played a major role in the banality of evil.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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