Eduard Dietze

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Eduard Dietze
Eduard Dietze.jpg
Born (1909-03-01)1 March 1909
Glasgow, Scotland
Died 26 May 1960(1960-05-26) (aged 51)
Bühlertal, Germany
Nationality British/German
  • Editor-in-Chief, English section, German Radio European Service
  • Controller, North-West European Service
Spouse(s) Edith ter Meer
  • Roderich Anton Edward Dietze
  • Elizabeth Brown Smith

Roderich Anton Eduard Dietze (1 March 1909–25 May 1960), more commonly known as Eduard Roderich Dietze, was the Glasgow-born head of the German Anti-Allied Propaganda Service during the Second World War and a regular broadcaster of such propaganda. He was also a German sports reporter and member of the German national table tennis team.

Early life

Eduard Dietze was born in Glasgow on 1 March 1909. He was the son of a Scottish mother, Elizabeth Smith, and a German father, Roderich Dietze.

His parents had met on a boat trip to Australia; his mother was travelling to marry another person, but after meeting Roderich she married him in Sydney on 1 October 1902. They returned to Scotland where Roderich got a job working as a commercial director at the firm owned by Elizabeth's father: John Smith & Son coal exporters. The couple lived at 29 Randolph Gardens in the Partick area of Glasgow, where the young Dietze was born.

Between 1912 and 1914 there were various visits and stays in Germany and Belgium (Antwerp).

In 1914, he moved to London where his father had taken over the London branch of Guano-Werke AG, a company which appears to have made fertilizers.

That same year, prior to the outbreak of the First World War, Eduard's father volunteered for the German Empire and moved to Hamburg. The young Dietze appears to have spent a short time being schooled in Scotland.

But after his father suffered a war injury, mother and son moved to Hamburg in 1915. His father died in Hamburg sometime thereafter.

The family moved to Düsseldorf in 1915, and to Weilburg in 1919 where Dietze began secondary school at a 'humanistisches gymnasium' — a selective school focused on preparing students to enter university; in this case, once which specialised in the humanities. He was age 10 at the time, which was the typical age for starting at such a school. The family moved back to Hamburg in 1921.

In the summer of 1926, at the age of 17, Eduard visited England as an interpreter and translator for the German scientist and inventor, Manfred von Ardenne, who held a number of patents in radio and television technology.

From 1926 to 1928 he studied mathematics and physics at the University of Hamburg. During this time, in 1927, he went on a two-month trip to the USA to assist and interpret once again for Manfred von Ardenne. Also, in October 1927, he founded his own Electrophysical Experimental Laboratory, E. R. Dietze - K.C. Scheel (ELPHYLA) in Hamburg.

Between 1928 and 1929 he studied natural sciences and philosophy at the University of Berlin. Meanwhile, he made amplifiers, pickups, and loudspeakers under the trademark ELPHYLA.

Then, from 1930 to 1932, he worked in Berlin for Siemens & Halske, the German electrical engineering company that later became part of Siemens. Specifically, he worked in the Amplification Department and Sales Department.

Radio reporter for RRG and BBC

While seemingly destined at first for a career in the technical side of broadcasting, Dietze qualified as a radio reporter in 1932 and became one of the star commentators for the German broadcasting organisation, Reich Rundfunkgesellshaft (RRG), principally on sporting events, including equestrian sports, motorsports, tennis and table tennis.

As a freelancer, he also worked for the Berlin Radio Hour, the radio station Norag Hamburg, and the international exchange of programs (IPA).

His ability to speak both fluent English and German meant that he was frequently sent to Britain to cover big national and sporting events. From 1933 to 1939 he gave commentaries on the Queen's Coronation, the World Economic Conference of 1933 in London, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the London radio exhibition, and tennis matches at Wimbledon, to name just a few examples.[1]

For the IPA he reported on the annual Eifelrennen motor race in Germany's Eifel mountain region; the tennis from Wimbledon; German Culture Week in Paris; and motor racing from Monza, Italy.

In order to carry out these broadcasts from Britain he was given facilities by the BBC. In return, he would often broadcast for the BBC about events in Germany, including the Saar plebiscite, the Hindenburg burial, the boxing match between Max Schmeling and Steve Hamas, and the Avus race in Berlin.

In 1936, he reported for NBC in New York on the Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Bavaria); and the main Olympics in Berlin.

Between 1936 and 1940 he participated in some of the first television broadcasts in Germany, including a trilingual welcome from members of the International Broadcasting Union (UIR). The 180-line German television system, which was crude compared to the 405-line British system, had started in Berlin 1935, initially three times per week for 90 minutes. The Olympic Games were however the first major television event in Germany, and indeed marked the first live television coverage of a sports event in world history.

Dietze's broadcasts from Britain for German radio

  • Eyewitness account of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, 1 April 1932/3?

Dietze's broadcasts for the BBC National Programme

Wartime activities

Although primarily resident in Germany, Dietze obtained a reviewal of his British passport in Berlin as late as 17 August 1939. But when war broke out between Britain and Germany later that year, Dietze's freelance work for the BBC immediately ceased. He did however continue to work for NBC in the USA, and gave German lessons for English listeners of the German shortwave transmitter (DKWS).

Following complaints that the RRG's English news service was poorly edited, Dietze joined the editorial office in November 1939 as a language corrector.

He was promoted to Editor-in-Chief of English services at the European Radio Service in Spring of 1942, based in Berlin. He frequently deputised on-air for William Joyce ('Lord Haw-Haw'), usually once a week, in the series Views on the News, aimed at British audiences. He broadcast under his own name and wrote the scripts.[2]

(The first record that the BBC had of Dietz speaking on the European Service was on 8 April 1942. In one broadcast he referred to having broadcast in German over the German National System on 8 January 1942.)

In the autumn of 1943, Dietze became Controller of the North-West European Service (Landegruppen Leiter Nordwest), based at Radio Luxembourg, controlling broadcasts directed to England, Ireland and Holland.

Despite working for the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda — albeit indirectly as a freelancer — Dietze was privately critical of the propaganda.

By 1945 he was broadcasting from Bremen-Wilhelmshafen radio in the North-West of Germany.[3]

Post Second World War

Following the British occupation of Hamburg, Dietze was captured by Canadian counter-espionage men in North-Western Germany and arrested on 12 May 1945. From mid-June he found himself in military custody at the Civilian Internment Centre in Esterwegen, Lower Saxony as a suspected British traitor. In view of German being his dominant nationality, Britain's Director of Public Prosecutions, Theobald Mathew, decided not to prosecute Dietze as a renegade and allowed him to be released. However, Dietze was informed that if he were to return to Britain at any time the question of his prosecution would have to be re-considered.

Dietze initially struggled to get a job at any radio station and had to undergo a process of de-nazification.[4]

In May 1950 Dietze managed to re-enter the field of broadcasting. He initially worked for the NWDR in Hamburg, followed shortly afterwards by many commitments on German television. So he got the first appointments for the Südwestfunk Baden-Baden, where he performed a variety of roles including commentary of tennis matches.

Instead, he worked as an interpreter for various public bodies, including the Lower Saxony state government.

In May 1950 Dietze was eventually employed by North West German Radio (NWDR) in Hamburg, followed in the same year by Südwestfunk (SWF), where he worked as a chief reporter. Given his specialism in live commentary, Dietze contributed to the first TV outside broadcast of a political conference for SWF in August 1953.


Statement by Helen Wies, 16 April 1945:

I knew Eduard Roderich Dietze quite well — a man who was feared by everybody. It was considered very lucky if you were a protege of any kind of Dietze. When I was about to be married he dismissed, or caused me to be dismissed, saying at a press conference that I should be ashamed that I was marrying a prisoner. He is a careful and good organiser — very correct and very fair. I told him I could not do any propaganda work and he did not let me do anything; but I found he was in every way a Nazi working for Germany. When I knew him he was about 45 years of age; very Scottish in every way; short and broad; reddish hair; wore glasses; clean shaven; abstemious. Work was the most important thing with him; but he never forced people to make propaganda, whereas William Joyce would force them. He was very idealistic and strict and respected sincerity and truthfulness. He once worked in the American Department, but I do not know whether he was American or not. He was directly responsible to Goebbels. His great fault was that he was very proud of himself.

Indeed, one MI5 officer referred to Dietze's "innate vanity".

Table Tennis

Dietze played table tennis at the club TTC yellow-white Berlin, with whom he was in 1933-34 German team champion. [3] At the International German Championship 1936/37 he reached the double with Rudi Schwager fourth place. [4] Several times he was in the national team used. After the Second World War, he took over duties as a functionary. So he became sports director in the Table Tennis Association Lower Saxony and 1950-1951 Press Secretary of the German Table Tennis Association DTTB. He designed the Dietze-pair cross-system, which was named after him. In the early 1950s he was with the men's team of SC Baden-Baden Südbadischer Cup champion. [5]

Private life

Dietze was married to the art historian and fashion journalist Edith ter Meer (1904–1993), the daughter of artist Hermann H. ter Meer. They had no children.


Eduard Dietze died suddenly on 26 May 1960 at the age of 51.


  • Eduard Roderich Dietze and Dr. Karl Wagenführ: Broadcasting. In: Jacob Nagel and Hans Rackow (ed.), Paul Peglow, Karl Dau, Emil Hundertmark, Hans Werner (Ed.): Postal services and telecommunications (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 1942)



  1. There is record of him attending Wimbledon in June 1939, for example.
  2. We are at War: The Diaries of Five Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times, Simon Garfield (Ebury Press, 2006), 332.
  3. 'All enemy forces surrender in Holland: "No Submissiveness"', Western Morning News, 5 May 1945, 3.