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Voice across the ocean — we will hear the echo of Babice radiostation

If it still exist­ed today, it would stand behind the fence of the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy. It was the sec­ond largest radio sta­tion in the world. From 10 huge tow­ers — 126 meters high — telegrams were broad­cast across the Atlantic. The area bombed by the Ger­mans is now cov­ered with for­est. But those who know what to look for will find the ele­ments of an impres­sive broad­cast­ing cen­ter, thanks to which Poland in the inter­war peri­od estab­lished direct con­tact with Amer­i­ca. The Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy sup­ports the plans to cre­ate a muse­um of Radiostac­ja Babice.

KILOMETER WAVES AIMED AT AMERICA

From 1923, the half of Europe sent telegrams from Poland to Amer­i­ca via the Transat­lantic Radiotele­graph­ic Broad­cast­ing Cen­ter. Dozens of engi­neers and tech­ni­cians com­mut­ed to work along Radiowa Street. Lat­er, they lived with their fam­i­lies in the new “Osiedle Łącznoś­ci”. The hous­ing estate, expand­ed at today’s Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy, was renamed Boernerowo in 1936 to com­mem­o­rate Igna­cy Boern­er, the Min­is­ter of Posts and Telegraphs.

Poland made good mon­ey in the 1920s and 1930s sell­ing com­mer­cial tele­graph ser­vices. Eco­nom­ic con­tacts can­not be over­es­ti­mat­ed. Doing busi­ness across the ocean paid off: if the mes­sage had trav­eled by ship, it would have arrived lat­er than it had been car­ried on radio waves. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion over huge dis­tances for those times accel­er­at­ed unprece­dent­ed­ly.

The trans­mit­ter had a very high pow­er, thanks to which it was pos­si­ble to con­nect with North and South Amer­i­ca. The receivers were locat­ed in Argenti­na and the Unit­ed States. The War­saw sta­tion was one of the best tech­ni­cal­ly equipped in the world. Two machine trans­mit­ters, 200 kW each, were pow­ered by a 500 kW diesel-pow­ered gen­er­a­tor. The trans­mit­ting appa­ra­tus of the Head­quar­ters ensured 24-hour com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the USA. In sum­mer, 30 words per minute were broad­cast, and in win­ter twice as many, because the con­di­tions for the spread­ing of waves improved.

The Poles did not man­age to destroy the instal­la­tion before the ene­my took it over in Sep­tem­ber 1939. The order of Mar­shal Edward Rydz-Śmigły was not car­ried out. The radio sta­tion allowed the Nazis to com­mu­ni­cate with the U‑boat fleet and with Japan. Long waves allowed them to con­tact freely with sub­marines sail­ing in the Atlantic. That is why the Ger­mans blew up the radio sta­tion just before the end of the war. The det­o­na­tion wave caused win­dows to fall out of the win­dows of the hous­es in the near­by vil­lage of Babice.

The Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy was estab­lished here much lat­er. But the MUT cadets still run in Fort Radiowo and pass in the for­est the remains of a great tech­ni­cal base: guard booths or met­al con­struc­tion ele­ments. The splen­dor of the Sanac­ja radio sta­tion has been for­got­ten. A sim­i­lar instal­la­tion, slight­ly small­er, has sur­vived in Swe­den. Today it is no longer suit­able, but it is a muse­um object and is entered on the UNESCO list.

That is why the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy sup­ports the idea of estab­lish­ing a Sci­ence Cen­ter — the Babice Transat­lantic Radiotele­graph­ic Broad­cast­ing Cen­ter. The Fac­ul­ty of Elec­tron­ics is seek­ing the cre­ation of an engi­neer­ing stu­dio at the uni­ver­si­ty for enthu­si­asts and sci­en­tists involved in the recon­struc­tion of the his­toric MEWA trans­mit­ter, which is to become a muse­um exhib­it.

fot. Sto­warzysze­nie Park Kul­tur­owy
Transat­lanty­c­ka Radiotelegraficz­na Cen­trala Nadaw­cza
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