On May 5th 1923, the first regular radio-telegraph connection with the (then) Dutch East Indies was put into service, for this purpose a radio station had been built in Kootwijk and a receiving station in Malabar (35 Km south of Bandoeng). In 1916, the scientist C.J. de Groot stated that a long wave radio would be possible over a distance of 12.000 Km, at first the transmitter was situated at Sambeek and the signal was recieved in Ranja Ejek (near Malabar). Until then contact was only possible over existing telegraph lines, but these ran through different countries and were often interrupted during the First World War, so a good direct connection without interference from others was a necessity .
Malabar radio station
The long wave technology used at the time required a lot of energy and space for the equipment. After several test locations, an extensive complex was built in Kootwijk to house all equipment and staff. However, technology did not stand still, with smaller short wave devices better connectionsbecame possible, nevertheless the station remained in service for years. In 1929 telephone traffic became possible, for a princely sum of 30 guilders people could talk to their overseas family for a few minutes. The phrase “Hello Bandoeng” was used to call the Malabar station in order to establish the connection.
During the war, the station was also used by the Germans for communication with submarines, to jam reception of BBC / Radio Oranje and the equipment was used to listen in on Allied radio traffic. The Museum contains a transcript of a conversation between Churchill and Roosevelt. The station also played a role in the infamous Englandspiel (in which captured Allied agents were forced to send false information to England), even an “attack” was committed, the failure of which was great for the German propaganda. Actually, the station was not such a problem for the Allies, as it this made eavesdropping on German communications easy. During the liberation in 1945, retreating Germans blew up all the antennas, but fortunately the building survived. Immediately after the war recovery was started, although the connection with the Dutch East Indies was subsequently lost, the station served for other connections until 1998, when satellite communication took over it’s tasks. The complex is currently managed by Staats Bos Beheer
The most beautiful ‘listening monument’ that ever existed was in Bandoeng on Tjitaroemplein. It was founded in 1930 in honor of the great scientist Cornelius Johannes de Groot (1883-1927). In the vernacular it was called t “the buttocks square”
The creative genius of De Groot united proudly the war plagued, Holland and Indies,
so far apart, through the trembling ether.
Lonely in proud nature lies his creation in Malabar’s steepness;
The sound of her mighty voice is heard to the ends of the earth.
With many thanks to J.W. Udo
Here are some links, simply using Google for “radio Kootwijk” is certainly good for a rainy afternoon
”Forschungsstelle Langeveld” – duitse afluisterstation in bezet Nederland, van Hans Knap, ISBN 90 6707 467 5.
PS, I’ve used the old expressions (as they were used in the time of this connection), bigger illustrations will follow.