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Radio Oranje
The voice of the fighting Netherlands

During World War II (WWII), Radio Oranje (Radio Orange) was a Dutch radio program, aired by the BBC European Service 1 on behalf of the Dutch Government in exile in London. The programs, that were typically 15 minutes long, were broadcast from London and were aimed at the German-occupied Netherlands. It is named after the Dutch monarchy's House of Orange-Nassau [1].

Radio Oranje is best known for the speeches of the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, although she only appeared on the show 34 times in 4 years, first on the opening broadcast on 28 July 1940 [1].

The program was on the on the air between 1940 and 1945, every evening between 20:15 and 20:30 (CET). The aim was to provide support and information to the Dutch people and also to counter German propaganda. In addition, it aired the so-called special messages, in which secret messages were passed to the Dutch resistance — usually a common saying or a short phrase.
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The programs of Radio Oranje were broadcast on the LW, MW and SW bands, but due to the fact that SW receivers had not been introduced in The Netherlands until 1935/36, most people only had an LW/MW receiver. As the Germans did not want the Dutch to receive information from the Dutch Government, they actively jammed the BBC broadcasts on the regular LW and MW bands.

To make matters worse, the Germans issued a directive on 13 May 1943, ordering all radios to be handed in. From that moment on, the possession of a radio was illegal and people risked a high fine, or even the death penalty, if a radio was found in their house. Although many radios were indeed handed in, people often kept one back so that they could secretly listen to Radio Oranje.

In addition, small covert receivers were secretly built by employees of Philips and NSF, and by radio amateurs, 2 from clandestinely obtained components. Such receivers were made as small as possible, and were hidden inside common objects, such as cigar boxes, biscuit tins and even picture frames. Such clandestine receivers were commonly known as Radio Oranje receivers.
On 18 September 1944 the south of the Netherlands was liberated, and on 3 October a new radio station, named Radio Herrijzend Nederland (The Netherlands Revived), started broadcasting from Eindhoven, where Philips engineers had secretly been building a transmitter during the war. This station relayed the programs of Radio Oranje and vice versa. On 2 June 1945, a few months after the liberation of the entire country, the transmissions of Radio Oranje were terminated [1].

  1. Part of the BBC World Service.  Wikipedia
  2. At the beginning of the war, the Netherlands had approx. 400 licenced amateurs radio operators. In addition there were many hobbyists and enthusiasts who were also able to build their own radio. In The Netherlands receivers for the BBC/Radio Oranje were typically known as Radio Oranje Ontvangers.

Radio Oranje receivers on this website
Clandestine midget receiver in modified cigar box, built with Acorn tubes
Clandestine single-valve long-wave receiver in metal 'Panter' cigar box
As the Germans did not want the Dutch people to receive any information other than the German propaganda, they actively tried to interfere with the transmissions of the BBC in the MW and SW bands. For this, jamming transmitters were installed at 16 locations throughout the country.

The diagram above shows a map of The Netherlands with the locations of the various jamming transmitters and their frequencies of 1 December 1941 [15]. Fifteen relatively small transmitters were spread around the country to jam the various SW stations (6.122-9.677 MHz), whilst a large one at the centre of the country was used for jamming the MW stations (804-1149 kHz).
In the secretly recorded broadcast (above) of 18 September 1944, war correspondent Robert Kiek speaks about the liberation of Eindhoven and the dropping of troops over occupied Nijmegen and Arnhem. The first part of the broadcast is severely jammed by the German occupant [13].

The image on the right shows one of the original jammers 1 that was used for this purpose. It is a self-exited free-running oscillator/amplifier, with two large valves in balanced configuration. A motor-driven variable capacitor, causes the oscillator signal to wobble (i.e. vary quickly), causing a humming sound in the receiver.   
German wartime jammer in the collection of COMM (now: Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid). Copyright Crypto Museum 2008.

Although the jammers caused serious interference in the reception of the BBC, the effect was limited. The jammers had be close to the receiver to have any success at all, and if people used a directional antenna, the effect could be reduced. Using an outdoor directional antenna worked best, but was dangerous as it gave away the location of the clandestine receiver.

The effect could also be reduced by altering the position or direction of the wire antenna, or by adding a so-called Moffenzeef 2 – also known as a Kraut Filter – which was in fact a jamming eliminator. Several designs of a Moffenzeef are known, but it is unknown which one came first.

Three versions of the Moffenzeef are shown above. The one at the left (1) was published in the May 1942 issue of De Wervelwind, a propaganda pamphlet created by the Dutch Government in exile, and dropped in large quantities over occupied territory by the British RAF [7].

The second one (2) was developed by Erik Schaaper in Scheveningen (Netherlands), and built in large quantities. It was advertised as a filter against interference from vacuum cleaners, but the Germans soon discovered that it was actually intended as a filter against their jammers [9]. It uses two antennas (no ground) that are positioned at different angles and heights. By adjusting the potentio­meter and the variable capacitor, the signal from the jammer can be cancelled out, using phase and amplitude differences. For the main antenna (A1) a curtain rod (in east-west direction) was recommended. The base plate of the stove (or the stove itself) acted as the second antenna.

The third solution (3) is more complex, but is arguably the most effective one. It combines the effect of a directional window antenna, with a passive sense antenna. Being a loop, it is sensitive only to the magnetic component of the radio wave, and has a sharp null. It was designed and built during the war by J. Verhagen, and is described in more detail by Louis Meulstee in [7].

  1. Photograph taken at the exhibition Secret Messages in Museum Jan Cover in November 2008. The item was given on loan by Museum voor Communicatie (later: COMM, now: Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid), for the duration of the exhibition. Photograph copyright Crypto Museum 2008.
  2. Literally translated: Kraut Sieve, or Kraut Filter — a sieve to filter out the Germans (Krauts). During the war, the word 'Mof' was the Dutch nickname for the Germans (similar to 'Kraut' in English).

Directive of 13 May 1943, issued in The Hague [11]
Handed in radios, rediscovered two years after the war in a forgotten storage space Amsterdam. Source: NIOD.
Handed in radios, rediscovered two years after the war in a forgotten storage space Amsterdam. Source: NIOD.
1 / 3
Directive of 13 May 1943, issued in The Hague [11]
2 / 3
Handed in radios, rediscovered two years after the war in a forgotten storage space Amsterdam. Source: NIOD.
3 / 3
Handed in radios, rediscovered two years after the war in a forgotten storage space Amsterdam. Source: NIOD.

Handing in radios
After people had found ways to circumvent the German radio jammers, it became clear to the Germans that the Dutch did not want to obey, and that the German propaganda had very little effect on them. As a last resort, they made the possession of radios illegal and issued a directive on 13 May 1943, that all radios had to be handed in. The diagram below shows how many people obeyed the directive in each of the provinces.

Radios handed-in per province in The Netherlands in 1943. Source: nu Actueel [10].

Similar Services
  • BBC Dutch Service
    Radio program of the BBC in the Dutch language, not under control of the Dutch Government, that existed from 1940 to 1957. It first broadcasted a speech of the Dutch Queen – Wilhelmina – on 15 May 1940. The programs were financed by the Dutch broadcasters AVRO, VARA, KRO, NCRV and VPRO [1].

  • Radio Vrij Nederland (VN)
    Radio Free Netherlands. Short-lived predecessor of Radio Oranje, that broadcasted a Dutch program via Radio Paris. Founded in 1940 by Dutch correspondents living in Paris at the time of the German invasion of The Netherlands. Terminated one month later when the Germans invaded Paris [2].

  • De Brandaris
    Radio station aimed at Dutch sailors of the (merchant) navy. Founded in 1941 at the initiative of the Dutch Government in exile, and broadcasting from London. Due to the free and uncensored presentation, it became more popular that Radio Oranje. In October 1942 it was merged with Radio Oranje [3].

  • Radio Herrijzend Nederland
    The Netherlands Revived (literally: Radio Resurrected Netherlands). The radio service that replaced Radio Oranje shortly after the south of the Netherlands had been liberated by the Allied Forces. The program was broadcast from Eindhoven, using a transmitter that had clandestinely been built during the war at Philips [4].  More...
Exmples of Radio Oranje receivers
By Louis Meulstee

A nice collection of Radio Oranje receivers are described by Louis Meulstee in the supplement chapters of his excellent book Wireless for the Warrier - Volume 4, in which he has listed them as Clandestine Midget Receivers [12]. These supplements are available free of charge from the Wireless for the Warrier website but can also be accessed directly from the links below.

Note that the midget receiver described in Chapter 153 is now in the Crypto Museum collection. Similar clandestine midget receivers were built and used during WWII in Norway. A nice collection of these can be found in the following chapters of Wireless for the Warrior - Volume 4:

  • Name
    Radio Oranje
  • Host
    BBC European Service
  • First
    28 July 1940
  • Last
    2 June 1945
  • Frequencies
    LW, MW, SW, see below
  • Program
    Daily between 20:15 and 20:30 (CET)
  • Successor
    Radio Herrijzend Nederland
  • LW
    1500 m (200 kHz) 1
  • MW
    373 m (804 kHz), 285 m (1053 kHz) and 261 m (1149 kHz)
  • SW
    49 m (6122 kHz), 41 m (7317 kHz) and 31 m (9677 kHz)
  1. This frequency was used until 1 February 1988, after which it was changed to 198 kHz (1515 m) [14].

  1. Wim Stuiver,
    Reparatieverslag van een zelfbouw 'Radio Oranje' langegolfontvanger uit 1944

    Radio Historisch Tijdschrift - Volume 180 - 1 - 2022 (Dutch).
External links
  1. Wikipedia, Radio Oranje
    Retrieved January 2021.  Dutch version

  2. Wikipedia (Netherlands), Radio Vrij Nederland
    Retrieved January 2021. In Dutch language.

  3. Wikipedia (Netherlands), De Brandaris
    Retrieved January 2021. In Dutch language.

  4. Wikipedia (Netherlands), Radio Herrijzend Nederland
    Retrieved January 2021. In Dutch language.

  5. Andere Tijden, Radio Oranje
    VPRO/NTR, 6 May 2009. Episode 272.

  6. Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid, Objecten in beeld: de moffenzeef
    YouTube, 30 April 2014.

  7. Louis Meulstee, Moffenzeef
    Wireless for the Warrior - Volume 4. Supplement, Chapter 162, July 2018.

  8. Jan Corver, Uit den strijd tegen de stoorzenders
    Radio-Express, 28 September 1945. 1

  9. Piet Bakker en Tim de Wolf, De Moffenzeef; Erik Schaaper's bijdrage...
    2006. Based on ~1969 interview by Cor Doesburg.

  10. Nu Actueel, The impact of the German occupation
    Noordhoff Uitgevers. 13 October 2020. In Dutch language.

  11. Het Geheugen, Bekendmaking, Inlevering Radio-ontvangtoestellen
    Koninklijke Bibliotheek.

  12. Louis Meulstee, Wireless for the Warrier - Volume 4, Supplement
    Wireless for the Warrier. Retrieved January 2021.

  13. Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid, Collection of Broadcasts...
    SoundCloud. Public Domain. Retrieved January 2021.

  14. Wikipedia, Droitwich Transmitting Station
    Retrieved September 2021.

  15. Gidi Verheijen, Het Radiotoestel in de Tweede Wereldoorlog
    ISBN 978-90-9024119-7. 29 March 2009. p. 72.
  1. Copy of original article obtained from NVHR.

Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 04 January 2021. Last changed: Tuesday, 29 August 2023 - 14:10 CET.
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