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RFT VEB Funkwerk Köpenick
Formerly known as GEMA

VEB Funkwerk Köpenick was a publicly owned company (VEB) with its headquarters in East-Berlin. During the Cold War, the company was one of the most important manufacturers of intercept receivers, transmitters and communications technology in the DDR (the former East Germany).
As the company was a member of VEB Kombinat Nachrichtenelektronik, a consortium of some specialised communications companies, some of its products were sold under the common brand name Rundfunk- und Fernmelde-Technik (RFT).

At the time, the main production facilities at Wendenschloßstraße 142-154 in Berlin-Köpenick, employed more than 3000 employees. In 2004, the new owner of the company, DeTeWe, moved production to Ratingen, after which the factory was closed. The image on the right shows part of the company's production facilities in April 2009.
Image by Langer_Johner [4] via Panoramio

The company started life in 1930 as Gesellschaft für Elektroakustische und Mechanische Apparate GmbH (GEMA) [1]. Initially the company produced broadcast receivers (radios) for the domestic market. Towards the start of WWII, the company started to develop and produce RADAR equipment, like the well-known Freya Radar [7] that was used by the German Army during WWII.
After WWII was over, GEMA came under control of the Soviet adminstration and was soon re-established as a manufacturer of Naval Control and Measurement Equipment, resorting as a science bureau under the Soviet Ministry for Naval Manufacturing [1]. On 15 December 1949, the company was given back to the DDR and became a VEB under the name Funktechnik Köpenick.

Over the years, the company specialised in communications systems, such as broadcast transmitters, intercept receivers and portable transceivers, some of which are covered here.

After the reunification of Germany in 1990, VEB Funkwerk Köpenick was privatised again and went on as Funkwerk Köpenick GmbH. In 1992, the company was taken over by DeTeWe and went on as a full subsidary of DeTeWe under the name DeTeWe Funkwerk Köpenick GmbH.
In 2004, the new owner moved the company to a new premises in Ratingen (Germany), whilst the production facilities in Köpenick were closed. In 2009, the buildings at Wendenschloßstraße 142-154 in Berlin-Köpenick were abandoned and most of them have since been taken down [5].

The image on the right shows an aerial picture that was taken in 2009. In this image, most of the buildings have already been taken down, but the building of the first image above is still visible at the bottom. The white building in the corner at the top was the main DeTeWe office at the time.
Former Funkwerk Köpenick buildings in 2009. Photograph via Bing Maps.

This building, at the corner of Wendenschloßstraße and Charlottenstraße, was later converted into a cafetaria, whilst the name DeTeWe remained prominently visible above the entrance for a while. After moving to Ratingen in 2004, DeTeWe subsidary Funkwerk Köpenick concentrated on the development and marketing of digital trunking systems like TETRA. Shortly afterwards, DeTeWe was forced to restructure due to lack of orders, after the German Government kept postponing their decision for new TETRA equipment. In Janury 2005, Funkwerk Köpenick was sold and finaly in July of that year, DeTeWe itself was taken over by the Canadian company Aastra Technologies Ltd.
The former DeTeWe office at Wendenschloßstraße. Photograph via Google Streetview. Aerial image of the former Funkwerk Köpenick factory in 2009, shortly before it was demolished. Photograph via Bing Maps. Aerial photo taken in 2008 when most of the buildings were still present. Via Google Earth. Aerial photo taken in 1953, shortly after WWII when Funkwerk Köpenick had just been established. Via Google Earth.

The following equipment from Funkwerk Köpenick is featured on this website:
Intercept and Communications Receiver 2170, also known as the Stasi Receiver 2170 Not yet available EKD-500

  • Funkwerk Köpenick
    Wendenschloßstraße 142-154
    Berlin-Köpenick, Germany

RFT   Rundfunk- und Fernmelde-Technik
RFT is not a manufacturer, but a consortium of many different electronics companies in the former DDR (East Germany) during the Cold War. As such, RFT is often combined with the name of the actual manufacturer, although in some cases equipment is sold exclusively under the RFT brand. (More...) (Wikipedia)

VEB   Volkseigener Betrieb
Publicly Owned Operation (i.e. state-owned enterprise). Main legal form of industrial enterprises in the former DDR (East Germany) during the major part of the Cold War. Immediately after the end of WWII, many private companies in East Germany were nationalised and became VEBs. After the reunification of Germany in 1990, many of the VEBs were privatised again. (Wikipedia)

  1. Wikipedia Germany, VEB Funkwerk Köpenick
    Description of RFT (German). Retrieved May 2013.

  2. Wikipedia Germany, Rundfunk- und Fernmelde-Technik
    Description of RFT (German). Retrieved May 2013.

  3. Wikipedia Germany, Volkseigener Betrieb
    Description of VEB (German). Retrieved May 2013.

  4. John Langer, Image of Funkwerk Köpenick factory 2009
    Factory at at Wendenschloßstraße 142-154. 13 April 2009. 1

  5. Matthias Grünzig, 3 Images of buildings at Wendenschloßstraße being demolished
    18 November 2011. Retrieved May 2013. 2

  6. DeTeWe, Tochtergesellschaft Funkwerk Köpenick forciert Entwicklung...
    ...und Vertrieb von TETRA-Produkten - Produktion wird verlagert.
    Press releases 2004 (German). 2 March 2004. Retrieved May 2013.

  7. Wikipedia, Freya radar
    Retrieved May 2013.

  1. Photograph via Panoramio.
  2. Photographs reproduced here with kind permission from the author Matthias Grüntzig.
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