Soldatensender Calais was a British black propaganda broadcaster during the Second World War operated by the Political Warfare Executive. It pretended to be a station of the German military broadcasting network ("Soldier's Radio Calais"). The station was in operation from October 24, 1943 to April 30, 1945, when it ceased operations.
Soldatensender Calais operated on the mediumwave band on 833 kHz (360 meters), 714 kHz (420 meters), and 612 kHz (490 meters), with an associated shortwave station Kurzwellensender Atlantik. The station used a 600-kiloWatt transmitter originally built for American broadcaster WLW, in Cincinnati. This transmitter had lain unused at the factory after the FCC imposed a 50 kW power limit, and so RCA was glad to sell it overseas. Codenamed "Aspidistra," it was installed in a huge, underground bunker, where it was briefly the world's largest mediumwave station, perfect for deceptive "black" operation.
Soldatensender Calais operated from 6 p.m. local time to dawn.
The method of propaganda used by Soldatensender Calais was described by Sefton Delmer in his book, Black Boomerang, as "cover, cover, dirt, cover, dirt"; that is, using good music and providing coverage of sports and other events of interest to a German serviceman, the station made that listener receptive to propaganda items aimed at decreasing morale. An example was a warning of confidence men swindling German soldiers being transferred from France to the Russian front. This approach could be compared to those used by Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally, without the heavy-handedness of the Axis programs. Soldatensender Calais, as part of its cover, relayed speeches by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi officials.
During the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, Soldatensender Calais broadcast information that was intended to impress German intelligence officers that the invasion area was wider than it actually was. After the Pas de Calais area was overrun, the station changed its callsign to Soldatensender West.
Soldatensender's broadcast was repeated in print the next day in the PWE/OSS Nachrichten für die Truppe air-dropped newspaper for German troops.
The station closed on April 30, 1945, without any official announcement.
The United States Army maintained a similar operation, Radio 1212.
- Michael R Burden The Biggest Aspidistra in the World About the activities of Soldatensender Calais, Atlantiksender and other WWII European propaganda stations.Contact Mike via Empire Radio: email@example.com EMPIRE RADIO Website: http://members.aol.com/skywave48/
- Robert Rowen Gray and Black Radio Propaganda against Nazi Germany Paper presented to the New York Military Affairs Symposium April 18, 2003. The CUNY Graduate Center, New York.