Radio Luxembourg Archive

Ref: MS 387

Title: Radio Luxembourg Archive

Scope:
Documents presented to the University of Sheffield by Doreen Williams, the widow of Stephen Williams, Director General of English Language Broadcasting, in February 1999. The archive includes schedules, scripts, cuttings, tapes and photographs relating to English-language broadcasting on Radio Luxembourg in the periods 1933-1939 and 1945-1946.

Dates: 1923-2007
Level: Fonds
Extent: 4 boxes
Name of creators: Stephen Williams; Professor Gerald Newton

The documents include schedules, scripts, cuttings, tapes and photographs relating to English-language broadcasting on Radio Luxembourg in the periods 1933-1939 and 1945-1946. Many of the documents were collected by Stephen Williams, Director of English Language Broadcasting at Radio Luxembourg at the time, while further material has been added by Professor Gerald Newton, of the University of Sheffield´s Department of Germanic Studies.

Stephen Williams was born on 31st March 1908, and developed an interest in radio at an early age. He joined Radio Luxembourg at the age of 23 after leaving Cambridge. The station was exciting and challenging in a variety of ways: it was international, broadcast in three languages (French, German and English) and was a commercial success. Its entertainment-based style was in direct contrast to the BBC of the day, and it built a large and dedicated listening audience throughout Europe.

In the period immediately prior to the outbreak of World War II, Stephen Williams faced increasing danger, and was in fact shot at by Nazi sympathisers. Concerns about the fate of the radio station following the German invasion of the supposedly "neutral protectorate" of Luxembourg led to Williams´ involvement in the burying of transmission valves and the entire record library in a field close to the transmitter.

When German forces invaded Luxembourg in 1940, the station was taken over as a vehicle for propaganda. Lord Haw Haw broadcast from the station in English during this period, using Williams´ own chair. During the war, Williams worked for the BBC, as Entertainments Liaison Officer, although secretly also engaged in undercover work. In 1944, the Americans took control of the station and briefly used it for propaganda purposes.

Although the German forces had set charges to blow up the transmitter, these were sabotaged by the station´s chief engineer. The record library and transmission valves were unearthed from the field in which they had been buried, and broadcasting quickly resumed. The Archive includes the script of the first English broadcast after the war, including mocking impersonations of Adolf Hitler. Stephen Williams continued to work for Radio Luxembourg, as well as for the BBC, and spoke the final words of farewell when the station closed down in 1991. He died on 23rd November 1994.

Further documents have been added to the material collected by Williams by Professor Gerald Newton, of the University of Sheffield´s Department of Germanic Studies. Professor Newton is Director of the Centre for Luxembourg Studies, and Commandeur de l'Ordre de Mérite du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg.

  • Related collections: Luxembourg Collection
  • Source: Donated in February 1999
  • System of arrangement: By category
  • Subjects: Radio - Luxembourg
  • Names: Radio Luxembourg; Williams, Stephen (1908-1994); Newton, Gerald
  • Conditions of access: Available to all researchers, by appointment
  • Restrictions: None
  • Copyright: According to document
  • Finding aids: Listed