What is Germany's Autobahn

Knowledge pool
Places of remembrance - Germany

  • 1954: ADAC commercial for traffic safety
  • Border checkpoint of the GDR: From here, transit highways led to West Berlin.

The end for the autobahn?

At the beginning of the Second World War, 3,300 of the planned 6900 kilometers of motorway had been completed. From then on, workers were withdrawn or relocated to routes that appeared important for war purposes. From 1942, there was a total construction freeze on the Reichsautobahn. And after the collapse of the Third Reich, the Allies dissolved the "Reichsautobahn" company. The dream of the German autobahn seemed over.

Reconstruction and the economic miracle

After the war Germany was in ruins. Large sections of the motorway were destroyed, and many fuel stations and rest stops were badly damaged. The occupying powers organized repair teams that repaired the worst damage to the West German autobahns in the years that followed.

In 1950, around 2200 kilometers of autobahn were again available in the FRG, which were now called federal autobahns. These were urgently needed because private transport increased steadily. The VW Beetle became a symbol of the economic miracle, and more and more German citizens drove their own automobiles. Truck traffic also increased enormously. In a newsreel from the 1950s it was said: "The trucks drive day and night in the service of the economy and transport the goods to all points of consumption." From now on, the federal motorways have been steadily expanded.

Transit routes in the GDR

The motorway network of the FRG ended in the east at the border control posts of the GDR. If you wanted to go to West Berlin, you had to use the old slopes of the Reichsautobahn. These transit routes remained in increasingly poor condition. GDR inspectors charged high fees for goods transported on it, which allegedly were to be used for the maintenance of the roads.