May 1941 Radio-Craft
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
These letters represent an unfriendly exchange between The Electrical
Experimenter editor Hugo Gernsback and Dr. K.G. Frank, of the
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
"Sayville Once More" - An Attack on The Electrical Experimenter
(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