Getting Around in 1950s Germany

The 1950s in West Germany were a time of economic boom and Volkswagen celebrated the one-million car milestone. Cars became a common sight in cities and many people dreamed of owning their own car.

But for the average German, car ownership did not become a reality until the 1960s and 1970s (in the late 1960s only one of my classmates had a dad who owned a car). In the meantime, the most important modes of transportation were: Our two feet, which carried us around the village and the neighboring villages. Of course, back then you could find most of life’s necessities in your village since mom-and-pop stores were common.

If you were lucky, you owned or co-owned a second-hand bicycle, which greatly increased your mobility. With your own two wheels you were able to visit relatives, attend dances and other festivities, go sight-seeing, go shopping, and run errands. My dad told me once that he rode his bike to the hospital when he had appendicitis in the late 1940s. That was a 10-mile trip! Clearly, my parents were made of stronger stuff than I am…

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