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Radios Confiscated in US During WWII

Ernst Erb Martin Renz Vincent de Franco Miguel Bravo-Cos Mark Hippenstiel Alessandro De Poi Heribert Jung Bernhard Nagel Eilert Menke 
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Forum » In General » Radios Confiscated in US During WWII
Dale Allen
USA  Articles: 11
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12.Jul.13 19:09

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A customer brought me a radio that belonged to his German father who was living in the US as a US citizen during the war. This radio was confiscated by ... during the war because he was of German decent. Can anyone find a reference to a periodical which mentions this process? My searches have only turned up the law that was used.

Bill Troyer
USA  Articles: 2
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01.Jan.14 16:41

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Here is a quote from "amfone topic   Shortwave Radios Confiscated"

We have heard stories that the Nazis restricted radio use in Germany during WW2. Shortwave radios were confiscated. At the height of hostilities, it was reported that anyone caught listening to BBC or other Allied radio stations was subject to summary execution.

It is a little-known fact that similar restrictions were imposed in the US.  Legal resident aliens of German, Japanese and Italian descent were required to surrender their shortwave radios to police.

In the years just prior to WW2, it was very common for ordinary broadcast receivers made in the US to include one or more shortwave bands.

Wonder what happened to all those radios.


The knock on the door came in 1942. Alfio and Mary Bonanno could no longer fill their south Philadelphia home with Enrico Caruso and other sounds of their native Italy. Federal government orders: The shortwave radio had to go.

Their son Sam didn't know it. He was busy risking his life in the Pacific with the U.S. Marines. His mother, a housewife who was not an American citizen, had been classified an "enemy alien."

The Bonannos never got their radio back.

Whereas it is provided by Section 21 of Title 50 of the United States Code as follows:

"Whenever there is a declared war between the United States and any foreign nation or government, or any invasion or predatory incursion is perpetrated, attempted, or threatened against the territory of the United States by any foreign nation or government, and the President makes public proclamation of the event, all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being of the age of fourteen years and upward, who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized, shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured, and removed as alien enemies...

(5) No alien enemy shall have in his possession, custody or control at any time or place or use or operate any of the following enumerated articles:

a. Firearms.

b. Weapons or implements of war or component parts thereof.

c. Ammunition.

d. Bombs.

e. Explosives or material used in the manufacture of explosives.

f. Short-wave radio receiving sets.

g. Transmitting sets.

h. Signal devices.

i. Codes or ciphers.

j. Cameras.

k. Papers, documents or books in which there may be invisible writing; photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map or graphical representation of any military or naval installations or equipment or of any arms, ammunition, implements of war, de vice or thing used or intended to be used in the combat equipment of the land or naval forces of the United States or of any military or naval post, camp or station.

All such property found in the possession of any alien enemy in violation of the foregoing regulations shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture.

Gidi Verheijen
Gidi Verheijen
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02.Jan.14 01:36

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Apart from the USA (and countries occupied by the Germans), the confiscation of radios also happened in areas occupied by Japan in WW II.

Europeans living in the former Dutch Indies (nowadays Indonesia), which was occupied by Japan, were not allowed to have a radio in their possesssion.

All other people were not allowed to listen to shortwave radio stations. In order to prevent them from listening to the SW, they had to hand in their radio to a technician who removed part of the circuitry, being vital for the reception of SW.  The humor of those days called this operation "castration" of the radios.

More details about the story of the radio in WW II in the Dutch Indies can be found in "Radio Malabar", author Klaas Dijkstra, editor Arthur Bauer, edition 2006 (in Dutch language), p. 487-490.

Details about the confiscation of radios in the Netherlands in WW II and related themes can be found in my book "Het radiotoestel in de Tweede Wereldoorlog" (German version "Das Rundfunkgerät im Zweiten Weltkrieg in den Niederlanden"). The book is still available with the author