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Radiofunken Records - Telefunken Records

The RADIOFUNKEN Label caused for decades collectors on both sides of the Atlantic headaches. The similarity with the Telefunken record is more than striking. The Label appeared around 1940/42 in the US, recordings came almost exclusively from the Telefunken Label, Berlin, starting with recordings from the year 1932 on. Also a remarkable number of marches and Nazi related content appeared on this label. Many collectors belief that Radiofunken is a export brand of Telefunken. However, this is wrong. These are all pirate dubbings from commercial Telefunken records. The actual manufacturer (and counterfeiter) is already denoted on the label: The Radio Rundfunk Corp. New York (Radio Broadcasting Corp. New York). Telefunken even had a claim against RADIOFUNKEN in 1943! But who is behind this company, if not the German Telefunken? To say it „carefully“ - American "Nazi sympathizers" and German immigrants of the 1930s and 40s.

A Short Story...

If it weren't possible to prove the whole story with contemporary documents and articles, you could keep it almost for a cock-and-bull story… Some (important) names we will meet again and again in connection with the Label: The already mentioned RADIO RUNDFUNK CORP. NEW YORK, the EUROPA IMPORT COMPANY, the furniture store BOLLE & DETZEL and the German immigrant Herbert F. (Fred) Oettgen. All persons and companies with more or less close ties to the Nazi - scene in New York, the American German Volksbund (German-American Bund More ), whose leader Fritz Kuhn ( More ) and Anton Haegele, the editor of anti-Semitic newspapers in New York and his "American National Labor Party " More

Born in Saxony in 1905 Herbert Oetggen came 1927 (probably for the first time) to New York. Profession according to the files: None… After further trips, in 1931 even to India, he found himself from around 1933 on employed in German Radio Hours in New York. The programs had been funded by the German furniture store „Bolle & Detzel“ in New York. In 1934 Oettgen had been fired from the first radio station – it was suspected he sympathized with the Nazis. He stayed with his weekly program in German at the station WBNX. Again financed by "Bolle & Detzel". Around the same time the „Europa Import Co.“ had became active in New York. Besides postcards, cuckoo clocks and gingerbread, the company sold records from Germany – most probably pirate dubbings. Both "Bolle & Detzel" and the „Europa Import Co.“ advertised regularly in the anti-Semitic agitation Newspaper „Deutscher Weckruf und Beobachter“ (German wake-up call and observer).

Owners and employees of Bolle & Detzel are repeatedly arrested or interrogated in the short term due their political "activities". By 1935/36 Herbert Oettgen established the Radio Rundfunk Corp – he is also the "President" of the Corp. Apart from Bolle & Detzel also other German-born business owners from New York funded this company. In the "stable" of this Corporation is now also the Europa Import.

In addition to the activity on radio Oettgen teached himself in Phono- Techniques. From the mid-30s on he regularly recorded with a mobile cutting system events and speeches of the BUND in New York. Besides this he also broadcasted dubbed speeches of Goebbels and Hitler over Station WBNX. Pressings of these dubbed records had been also offered to other Stations. Probably around this time he began to dub records of the German Telefunken - probably initially to play them with his German Radio Hour.

In 1937 gradually the mood in the American population changed over both the policy in Germany, as well as the "political activities" of Germans in the United States. German radio broadcasts are increasingly coming under observation of politics and journalism. For the first time Oettgen was involved in a “small” scandal in 1937. He, or his company, recorded the funeral of the victims of the Hindenburg Zeppelin - disaster on record. He played these discs with his program. There was probably some "Heil Hitler" choirs too much to hear via a Station in New York...

The dubbing of German Record and distribution of Nazi speeches became a increasingly lucrative "business side" of Oettgen, the "Radio Rundfunk Corp." and the "Europa Import Co.". It is not exactly clear when he started to sell the pirated copies of Telefunken Records to private customers. Maybe first the TEMPOFUNKEN, then the RADIOFUNKEN were "doorstep selling" but also sold through mail order. Whether the recorded speeches of Nazis from America and Germany, or even pieces like the "Horst Wessel Song" were advertised directly in the lists, is still unsettled. Maybe advertised through loose papers in the Catalogues or simply word-of-mouth advertising.

In 1939 Oettgen and his Radio Rundfunk Corp. recorded the infamous speeches by Fritz Kuhn during an “event” in front of 22,000 visitors at Madison Square Garden. These were pressed later on "Radiofunken". The "appearance" of Kuhn in this event by the BUND led ultimately to his detention and subsequent expulsion from America. Copies of recordings on Radiofunken can be found in the US National Archives NARA: More

It is still unclear how Oettgen and its funders got hands on the Telefunken Records from Germany. Both he, as well as more from this environment had traveled in the 30s to Europe and Germany. Also possible: partners from Germany sent commercial Telefunken records to New York. Oettgen made the dubbings. The catalog with pirated records on RADIOFUNKEN became more and more extensive. However, he recorded also zither and mandolin clubs and choral societies with German songs – “Lied” in New York, pressed and sold them on Radiofunken. The distribution of the records and the settlement with the dealers took over the Europa Import Company.

With the US entry into the war German broadcasting came again under keen observation. One of the first to “got of the Air” was Herbert Oettgen with his “German Hour” broadcasts, produced by the Radio Rundfunk Corp. and their business partners. Their approach now seems almost naive to us: After the attack on Pearl Harbor he still played in the program the "Horst Wessel Lied" and other Nazi speeches. This led to another scandal now also echoed nationally in the American press. Oetggen went underground, two of his business partners were shortly arrested by the FBI.

At first the distribution of RADIOFUNKEN records went on. Who from now on headed the Europa Import Co., which was the official distributor of the records, is still unclear. At least since 1939 the Radio Rundfunk Corp. and Europa Import Co. shared the same address: 207 East, 84th Street. At the end of 1942, the name of the Label was changed in RADIODISQUE.

In the summer of 1943 it came to a court case against the Europa Import a.k.a Radiofunken / Radiodisque. Telefunken in Germany filed a lawsuit due to the pirated records in the USA.

Probably soon after this trial, production of RADIOFUNKEN Records stopped. In 1945 none of the Radiofunk Corp. or Europa Import Co. can be found in the in the the yellow pages of New York.

After 1945 Oettgen called himself Fred Herbert-Oettgen, in 1946 he travelled from the Bahamas to New York… He is now technical Director or Recording Director of a another Recording Studio in New York (in predominantly German hands). He re-activated the “Radio Rundfunk”, from 1946/47 on Radiofunken Records appeared again on the market. Also with pirated dubbings from Telefunken discs – some of them now pressed in red vinyl and with new order numbers. Oettgen, as well as the re-surfaced Europa Import Co. tried their hands on other projects in the phono industry. In the early 1950s they sold recordings of the Swiss ELITE Company. In a short article about Oettgen he called himself the official representative of the Carl Lindström AG and announces future Kristall Records in the USA. This seems to had been simply a lie – the “Project” never took of…

The RADIOFUNKEN label disappeared around 1950 from the market. While the Europa Import Co. still sold (under different management) Elite Records in the USA (Original yodeling…) Oettgen said his farewell to the recording industry. 1955 we find him again: Oettgen moderated in early television for a few months the "German Television Hour" (New York). In 1956 he toured Europe with his second wife, after that it is "quiet" around him. The last trace of him is found in 1964 - he sold life insurances ...

Records and Recordings

1. TEMPOFUNKEN * Made in USA - Phono. Records
presumed precursor of the Radiofunken Label

2. RADIOFUNKEN * Phonograph Records * Trade Name Corp. by
Radio - Radiofunk

Here the Radio Rundfunk Corp. of Herbert Oettgen is called directly as a manufacturer. Production probably from c. 1940/41.

RADIOFUNKEN Electric Disk * © And Made By Radio - Rundfunk

Probably also an early label - variant. No indication of the mx-nr. on the label.

3. RADIODISQUE * Phonograph Records * Radio - Radio
"Conversion" from Radiofunken to Radiodisque from 1942 on with the entry into the war.

4. RADIOFUNKEN * Phonograph Records * Radio - Rundfunk
After end of the war Oettgen "reactivated" the Radio Rundfunk Corp. This label - variant is a post-war pressing.

Another indication for the "pirated" records can be seen here - Telefunken never used such lead out grooves. They are part of the dubbing process from the commercial Telefunken record to a new wax master.

You also see the mx. system used by Oettgen/Radiofunken as it shows a take number (-1).

Because of the pure German lettering but also the low mx. and order numbers seems to be TEMPOFUNKEN as the precursor of the later Radiofunken. Right a rather early Radiofunken with a recording made in New York by the zither club “Harmonie”.

Left: Label - Variant before 1942/43. Caption in German; Telefunken dubbing. Interesting detail: 78 rpm k. The letter K is only found with labels before 1945. Right: From 1942-43 transition to Radiodisque. The order numbers are retained or moved on without interruption. Change of Radio - Rundfunk on the label to Radio - Radio.

The claim of Telefunken against Europa Import Co. - Radiofunken may also a reason why the name of the record label changed from Radiofunken to Radiodisque.

Later the label of Radiodisque is less intricately designed (glossy missing). Caption partly a mixture of German and English. DISCUS -. Made from, around or after 1946 by the Radio Rundfunk Corp - Herbert Oettgen. Own recordings from the USA, but also "old" Telefunken dubbings. The order no. - Series 5000 suits the order number system of RADIOFUNKEN before 1945. After 1950, DISCUS is manufactured by Empire Record, this company was also in connection with Oettgen. Now even "new" dubbings and / or matrices from European records.

From c. 1946/47 Radiofunken appeared again. Use of “old” Telefunken dubbings. Detail: Made in USA rr. The k of the prewar series disappear now. rr is used on labels after 1945. 30 cm Radiofunken Records now also in red vinyl. On the label as Vynelite (Unbreakable). This red vinyl was first used in 1945 by the RCA Victor. A indication of the Victor as a reward pressing plant? Or the Carl Fischer studios…?

The Europa Import Company is now under new management. From 1950 on, they distributed recordings of ELITE from Europe.

RADIOFUNKEN and RADIODISQUE catalog December 1942 and January 1943 Supplement
(For full resolution please click the individual pages)

Order Number - Series

R 5000 - 10 inch
Mainly own recordings from New York

R 8000 - 10 inch
Popular recordings, Telefunken dubbings

R 7000 - 12 inch
Classic series, Telefunken dubbings

R 9000 - 12 inch
? So far, only a few order numbers detected. Possibly using records from Vienna / Austria.

Irony aside: While banned in Germany since 1933, Radiofunken still sold the complete "Threepenny Opera" series; originally recorded in 1930. for Ultraphon.

Striking the wide selection of records with the "Deutsche Nachtigall" Erna Sack. Ms. Sack recorded from 1935 on exclusively for the Telefunken Label. Apparently she was also with Radiofunken a "Evergreen". In the video portal YouTube you´ll find an postwar issue on red vinyl. Probably the record was signed during her second US tour in 1954. The sound of the dubbing isn´t up to the usual and high quality of the commercial Telefunken records:

Some more about Radiofunken...

Our entire story took place in Yorkville, NY - also known as "Little Germany".

- The Sponsors

Both the "German - American - Bund", as well as Anton Haegele his Hetzblatt "wake-up call and German observers" tried to book airtime over New York radio stations - the stations refused. Apparently this got "Bolle & Detzel" and Herbert Oettgen into play.

"Bolle & Detzel" led in the mid-30s in New York a large furniture store. However, this had been bought not until December 1933 - probably with foreign capital. Before, they were themselves actors in broadcasting. From 1934 on they have been the main funders of the programs led by Oettgen (Station WBNX). In addition, the furniture store and the Radio Rundfunk Corp. were direct neighbors, situated in the same block at the corner of 84th Street and 3rd Avenue.

In 1935 they came into the headlines because one of the owners revealed crimes with Nazi background. After a contemporary report Willy Bolle was a notorious Nazi, who once again supported the groups around Anton Haegele financially and through large Ads in his Hetzblatt.

After the radio scandal around Oettgen in early 1942 Bolle and Detzel were temporarily detained and questioned by the FBI, but they were released shortly afterwards.

Willy Bolle was drafted in 1942. In addition to an address in NY, he gave a second address to the files: "Novoting - Lake Valhalla". A strictly private mountain resort built by German immigrants about 30 miles from New York. The individual houses built in part medieval, alpine style. Homes contributed illustrious names like "House Valkyrie". On Lake Valhalla it was at that time very Christian and very German too - to say it “carefully” again ... Ad from 1936:

...for sale, to refined Christian families.... privately owned and open only to a small group of selected families

In other words: "Access only for selected Arians" - or something similar... Afterwards Willy Bolle is lost in the fog of history. The Company "Bolle & Detzel" had been closed soon after.

In the summer of 1942 the assets of Bolle & Detzel Inc. had been seized because their funders withdrew the capital. In the same context but also the property of the funders was confiscated. Behind Bolle & Detzel stood a (very conservative) investment company from America, equipped with capital from Europe and Germany…

- Radio, Records & Scandals

It is still uncertain when exactly Herbert Oettgen started with German-language broadcasts. In 1930 Oettgen lived still as a lodger in NY. Upon his arrival in September 1931 he gave as profession "Merchant". He traveled again to Europe, arriving back in March 1932. Now he called the occupation "Vice - President". Within six months from a Merchant to a Vice-President; probably this “career” is in context with the broadcastings. Bolle & Detzel also occurred in early 1933 still as radio entertainers.

During the year 1933 (or earlier?) he became director of the "German Radio Hour" at New York's station WEVD. He could also been heard over the station WHOM. Early in 1934 he moved to the Station WBNX; employee WHOM had fired him because "National Socialist sympathies" had been suspected with him and his programs. The station WBNX had specialized in foreign language programs for the polyglot population in New York. Already in start with the new station, first problems appeared . WBNX canceled in April 1934 a program which reported very critical about the political situation in Germany and Italy (the so-called "Berlin-Rome Axis"). Now the accusation was in the air, the station made room for Nazi - propaganda.

Edward Ervin, production manager of radio station WBNX, yesterday denied that his station had removed a program to make room for the broadcast of Nazi propaganda. Charges to this effect were made early this week by Theodore Nathan, of the magazine Debate.
May 4, 1934

During a theme week in 1937 about life of German and Italian immigrants in New York, there are not only speeches by a "able Nazi - Speaker", Gemutlichkeit with sauerbraten and dumplings – there is also a visit of the Europa Import Company in Yorkville. In addition to books and magazines, cuckoo clocks and gingerbread they also sold German records. TEMPOFUNKEN?

At the latest from 1937/38 on the Radio – Rundfunk Corporation appeared. This is the company behind the radio broadcasts over Station WBNX. Director is Oettgen, the already known William Foerster finance director.

Bolle & Detzel bought most of advertising time; so the furniture store became the main sponsor of the Company. Interestingly the addition: "All programs in German and recorded abroad". A clear indication of the dubbed records and speeches from Germany. The Europa Import Co. emerged here as a donor through purchase of advertising time. They pushed the money from one into the other pocket ...

1939 Oettgen recorded the speeches of Fritz Kuhn at Madison Square Garden before more than 20,000 “followers” and visitors on 22 discs (12”). They then appeared on Radiofunken. The Radio Rundfunk is called here as a record company from Yorkville.

1940/41 - Radio Rundfunk Corp., manufacture of phonograph records...

February 1942

At the latest after this claim the production of Radiofunken records must have been stopped. Even the furniture store Bolle & Detzel as the main financier no longer exists. Oettgen and his Company’s disappeared around the same time from the yellow pages - and public perception.

Swan song ...

The former director of the Radio Rundfunk Corp. called himself after the war (for some years) Fred Herbert-Oettgen. From 1945 on he is mentioned as the technical director or recording manager of the Carl Fischer Studios. From c. 1946 on we will also see the second edition of the RADIOFUNKEN records.

It is from this point on not exactly clear which company produced exactly which. Oettgen reactivated probably his Radio Rundfunk Corp .; but the producer of the records could have been also the Carl Fischer Studios or Empire Records. The sole agent of the Kristall Records or the Carl Lindström in America he was certainly never ...

The Europe Import (Importer and Exporter of authentic Swiss yodeling - records ...) is now under the direction of a certain Walter Reuter. The exact company address is (yet) unknown.

In 1949 Oettgen was divorced from first wife because of "… nonsupport and cruel and inhuman treatment" against her. In 1955, he is Moderator of the German Television hour in New York for a few months. 1964 he sold life insurance.

In retrospect, Oettgen was (besides a good recording - technician) more a stooge of the various companies. To close is his "career" connected with the Radio Rundfunk Corp., the Europa Import Co. and the donors of the various Company’s. The actual patrons should be sought rather in the circles around Fritz Kuhn, the “German-American-Bund” and Anton Haegele. In post-war Germany Oettgen would have been classified more a “Mitläufer” (Nominal Member) - for the American Nazi - Scene of the 1930s and 40s he was a willing pawn ...

Travel and Life Datas of Oettgen - Weitere Informationen:

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