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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Another German first


Long before he invaded Poland, Hitler had already invaded people's minds with the world's first television station which began broadcasting in Berlin on 22 March 1935 for ninety minutes a day three days a week.

German 'Fernsehen' - no fancy Greek/Latin portmanteau word for us - resumed its service after the war, just in time for the country to watch the 'Miracle of Bern', when West Germany beat the heavily favoured Golden Team of Hungary 3–2 in the FIFA World Cup Final in 1954.

The live broadcast of this stunning victory, which to many represented the birth of a new Germany, attracted huge crowds outside the few shops that sold television sets which no one could afford.

The scrum outside a shop during the live broadcast of the FIFA World Cup Final

At the time, a television set was a status symbol few could aspire to. They hadn't become everyday consumer items yet and were available only in shops which still sold more radios than televisions, and tuned in by technicians with the help of a test pattern which filled the screen for more hours than the actual broadcasts.

Perhaps it was an indicator of how much television would come to rule our lives that those lucky few who had a 'Fernseher' would turn it on for visitors even if all they could see was the test pattern.

There was very little television during the day and just a few hours at night, all without commercials which got bunched together in an half-hour-long commercial 'extravaganza' just before the main programme (maybe that's where I got my eating habits from, because to this day I eat all the things I like least before I get stuck into the things I enjoy).

No scrums today

As for today's Germans, they now have multiple 'Fernseher' all over the house and no longer need to get into a scrum outside a television shop.



P.S. Watch 'The Miracle of Bern', the best football movie ever made!