Washing machines

The luxury of fully automatic washing machines.

Photographer: Agentur Schirner
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)
c. August 1950
BA: Schirner K115149
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The "economic miracle" began in West Germany. Factories, supplying citizens with the first luxury goods, were immediately successful. The mechanization of households following the American model prevailed in West Germany. The "women of the ruins" of the first postwar years became "modern house wives", and the new technology helped them do their work.
The "economic miracle" began in West Germany. Factories, supplying citizens with the first luxury goods, were immediately successful. The mechanization of households following the American model prevailed in West Germany. The "women of the ruins" of the first postwar years became "modern house wives", and the new technology helped them do their work.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

A Look into the Future

A look into the future.

Photographer: Agentur Schirner
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)
1953-03-18
BA: Schirner 35751
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


A look at the new world of motorization, represented by the name Volkswagen. Developed during the Second World War, the "Beetle" became the icon of postwar West Germany. Also a real export hit, the "Beetle" became the symbol of the economic miracle.
A look at the new world of motorization, represented by the name Volkswagen. Developed during the Second World War, the "Beetle" became the icon of postwar West Germany. Also a real export hit, the "Beetle" became the symbol of the economic miracle.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

The Worker's Uprising

The Worker's Uprising in East Berlin on June 17, 1953.

Photographer: Agentur Schirner
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)
1953-06-17
BA: 33167/44
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


On June 17, 1953, workers in East Berlin organized protests against the SED-regime. With the help of Soviet tanks, the SED-government crushed the uprising.
On June 17, 1953, workers in East Berlin organized protests against the SED-regime. With the help of Soviet tanks, the SED-government crushed the uprising.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Luxury goods

Luxury goods at the Düsseldorf Furniture Trade Fair.

Photographer: Agentur Schirner
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)
1953-09-02
BA: Schirner 36959
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


In West Germany, the market for luxury goods grew continuously. The many newly constructed apartments, which had sprung up in the destroyed cities, had to be furnished. This "combination furniture" guaranteed multiple usefulness even in small apartments.
In West Germany, the market for luxury goods grew continuously. The many newly constructed apartments, which had sprung up in the destroyed cities, had to be furnished. This "combination furniture" guaranteed multiple usefulness even in small apartments.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

"Everyone should live better"

The famous exhibition "Everyone should live better".

Photographer: Gerhard Gronefeld
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)

GG 91/1343
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Thanks to Ludwig Erhard, the first Minister of Economic Affairs and "Father of the Economic Miracle," liberal economic policies led to a surprisingly strong boom in West Germany. The economy concentrated on consumer goods and exports.
Thanks to Ludwig Erhard, the first Minister of Economic Affairs and "Father of the Economic Miracle," liberal economic policies led to a surprisingly strong boom in West Germany. The economy concentrated on consumer goods and exports.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

the Germand flag

The first official hoisting of the German flag since the end of the Second World War.

Photographer: Agentur Schirner
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)
1955-05-05
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Only gradually did West Germany gain full sovereignty. By May 5, 1955, Germany had proven that it could be integrated economically and politically into the community of Western nations. On May 9, 1955, Germany became a member of NATO. At almost the same time, the GDR became a member of the Warsaw Pact , in which the states of the Eastern Block committed themselves to "friendship, cooperation and mutual economic aid." The primary objective of the pact was a common defense against NATO.

The partition of Germany had been carried out radically - geographically, politically and also in a military sense. A few months after the fall of the wall in November 1989, on September 12, 1990, the four foreign ministers of the victorious powers signed a treaty in Moscow with their two German counterparts, giving back to Germany its full sovereignty.
Only gradually did West Germany gain full sovereignty. By May 5, 1955, Germany had proven that it could be integrated economically and politically into the community of Western nations. On May 9, 1955, Germany became a member of NATO. At almost the same time, the GDR became a member of the Warsaw Pact , in which the states of the Eastern Block committed themselves to "friendship, cooperation and mutual economic aid." The primary objective of the pact was a common defense against NATO.

The partition of Germany had been carried out radically - geographically, politically and also in a military sense. A few months after the fall of the wall in November 1989, on September 12, 1990, the four foreign ministers of the victorious powers signed a treaty in Moscow with their two German counterparts, giving back to Germany its full sovereignty.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe some ways the Second World War affected the people of Germany
  • Relate some key political events in postwar Germany and their historical impact
  • Gain an appreciation of how politics affected the fate of postwar Germany
  • Explain how East Germany and West Germany’s histories diverged
  • Describe the economic and political development of West Germany
  • Describe when and how East and West Germany were reunited
  • Describe some of the ways people of East and West Germany responded to the conditions in their country
  • Appreciate the power of photography to capture historic events and communicate aspects of human existence

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