May 1941 Radio-Craft[Table of Contents]
People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history of early electronics. Radio-Craft was published from 1929 through 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged. See all articles from Radio-Craft.
These letters represent an unfriendly exchange between The Electrical Experimenter editor Hugo Gernsback and Dr. K.G. Frank, of the Telefunken System of Wireless Technology, of Germany. Gernsback correctly accused Dr. Frank of engaging in espionage for Germany and against the United States of America, during World War I at a time we were not officially at war with the Axis powers. He was arrested and interred for the duration of the war for sending out "unneutral messages" from the broadcast station at Sayville, Long Island, New York. See "Radiobotage" in this month's (September 1941) editorial column.
(Under the above title, the October 1915 edition of The Electrical Experimenter carried the interesting correspondence reprinted below. History is its own indisputable evidence that "history repeats itself." We can only hope therefore that a review of past events, may in some measure throw into sharp relief for all to see, the coming events which thinking men foresee. - Editor)
The two letters reproduced herewith require no comment. The one illustrates the German viewpoint, the other the American. We leave it to our readers to decide which is the correct one.
Dr. K. G. Frank, as is well known, is the present executive head of the Sayville wireless station. On August 17 the Providence Journal laid before the U. S. Neutrality Board in Washington eight formal charges. One of these charges was that Dr. K. G. Frank is the head in the United States of what is known in Berlin as an Information Bureau (secret service).
The letters follow:
Atlantic Communication Co. (Telefunken System of Wireless Telegraphy)
47-49 West Street
The Experimenter Publishing Co.,
Attention, Mr. H. Gernsback, Editor.
Dear Sir: - With regret and surprise I have read your editorial in No. 28 of The Electrical Experimenter on "Sayville."
According to my knowledge your paper is the only technical paper which joins some of the daily newspapers in the contemptible attempt to cast suspicion upon Sayville. One would at least expect that your paper would take cognizance of fact that not only no single instance of an un-neutral act can be proved, but also that there has never been any charge of such act made by any official of the United States Government.
The standard of the technical and scientific press in this country is, fortunately, so high that I am convinced your paper will remain the only one which distinguishes itself in such manner.
Very truly yours,
(Signed) Dr. K. G. Frank, New York, N. Y., August 17, 1915.
Atlantic Communication Co.
New York City,
Attention Dr. K. G. Frank Dear Sir: -
The writer was indeed surprised to receive your communication of August 17. He is at a loss to understand how you could possibly misconstrue the true meaning of his editorial in view of the fact that at the time it was published Sayville had already been taken over by the Government. What the editorial meant to convey was that even though the Government had taken over Sayville, it was not at all certain that messages pregnant with un-neutral information, yet harmless on their face, could not be sent in spite of all censorship. The imaginary case of the message from the "Adriatic" was cited as an illustration. Anyone by paying the usual tolls can even now send such a message. The management or the operators at the Sayville station obviously need not necessarily have cognizance that the message is an un-neutral one.
That the writer's viewpoint was correct is best shown by the announcement of Secretary of the Navy Daniels under date of August 18, "that as a result of the demonstration that un-neutral messages could be sent through the Sayville station he had issued orders that in all cases where the Government experts were in doubt about any message presented for sending it should be referred to Washington for judgment."
As to the second paragraph in your letter your attention is directed to page 210, September issue of The Electrical Experimenter. It gives facts with which you are doubtless familiar. These facts disclose one of the main reasons why Sayville was taken over by our Government.
Your assertion that "The Electrical Experimenter is joining some of the daily newspapers in the contemptible attempt to cast suspicion upon Sayville and, further, that no single instance of a dishonorable act can be proved, but also that there has never been any charge of such act made by any official of the United States Government," is as perverted as it is unfounded. Its tone is also resented by the writer. The Electrical Experimenter certainly never attempted to cast suspicion upon Sayville, but it has shown that the station can, and perhaps has been used to convey un-neutral messages, though not necessarily with the knowledge of the management or its operators.
At the same time the writer desires to voice his opinion that there is sufficient circumstantial evidence at hand to lead anyone who wishes to view the matter in its true light to believe that the management of the Sayville station probably had some knowledge of the real purport of the many "irregular" messages sent over the Atlantic by Sayville before the station was finally taken over by the United States Government.
The slur contained in your last paragraph is best met by bringing to your attention the fact that The Electrical Experimenter today is considered an authority on wireless matters in this country. As such it is its duty to publish any matter of interest to the wireless world. It will distinguish itself in the future by continuing to do so. It will also continue voicing its opinion especially at times when the welfare of this country is concerned.
Very truly yours,
The Electrical Experimenter Co.
(Signed) H. Gernsback, Editor
New York, August 80, 1915.
Posted August 16, 2015