RIAS Berlin and the Americans
by Prof. Herbert Kundler, former Program Director RIAS Berlin

When the American forces left Berlin in 1994, after almost 50 years, the memory of the radio station they founded remained. RIAS (Radio in the American Sector) is an example of successful German-American cooperation. Its success was anchored in a number of factors: the high public regard it enjoyed, its incomparable journalistic effectiveness in the crisis period of the Cold War and the collapse of communism, and its audience of millions of Berliners and citizens of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

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Unintended Consequences: RIAS and the Cold War
by Prof. Howard S. Pactor, University of Florida, Gainesville

In the winter of 1945–46, the once-great city of Berlin was beginning its long climb from the ruin of war. Under terms of the Yalta Agreement, Germany had been divided among the three victorious Allies with an area assigned to the French taken from the American Zone of Occupation in western Germany. Similarly, Berlin was divided into four sectors for each of the occupying powers. With the general suspicion and mistrust among the occupiers, some semblance of normal life resumed in Berlin.

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Historic RIAS sign taken off building for repairs – but back now

On May 7, 2009, the historic RIAS sign was returned to the top of the RIAS Funkhaus (broadcast building). It had been removed on March 16, 2009 for urgently required repairs.

Only two years after starting to broadcast on February 7, 1946, the “Rundfunk im Amerikanischen Sektor” (RIAS) had moved into the RIAS Funkhaus and began its broadcast under the well-known RIAS sign on top of the roof. From July 6, 1948, to December 31, 1993, the building was home to legendary RIAS Berlin, also known as “a free voice of the free world” to millions of listeners in former communist East Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, and the German Unification on October 3, 1990, RIAS was transformed into the public German radio station DeutschlandRadio Kultur at the end of 1993.

The RIAS sign — put under landmark status about a decade ago — still reminds today’s passers-by of the glorious times of RIAS Berlin as a renown radio station in Berlin during the Cold War.