What Germany looked like in the 1960s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

Post World War II, Germany found itself divided into two separate nations: the Federal Republic of Germany, aka West Germany, and the German Democratic Republic, aka East Germany. This division was not just political; it was deeply physical and symbolic, epitomized by the Berlin Wall’s construction in 1961. The Wall was more than just a physical barrier; it represented the stark ideological divide between the democratic-capitalist West and the communist East, underscoring the broader Cold War tensions between the US and USSR.

The Wirtschaftswunder

On the Western front, Germany in the 60s was a land of what seemed like miracles. The West German economy experienced a period of extraordinary recovery and growth known as the “Wirtschaftswunder” or “economic miracle.” Backed by the Marshall Plan’s support from the United States, Germany was fast becoming an industrial powerhouse. Cars like the Volkswagen Beetle and Mercedes-Benz became international symbols of German engineering prowess.

The 68er-Bewegung

Socio-politically, the 60s was a time of radical upheaval in West Germany. The ’68er-Bewegung’ or ’68 Movement’ saw a wave of protests and civil unrest sweeping across the country. Influenced by global movements for civil rights, peace, and feminism, young Germans demanded change. They wanted a break from the old, Nazi-tainted structures and sought more democracy, freedom, and transparency.

The Space Race

The 1960s was also an era of cosmic exploration. While the US and the Soviet Union were the primary competitors in the Space Race, East Germany made significant strides in science and technology. They launched the first German astronaut, Sigmund Jähn, into space in 1978 (though this technically falls a bit outside our 60s timeline, the foundations were being laid during that decade).

Stasi and the Surveillance State

In the East, the 60s were marked by a different kind of narrative. The Stasi, or the Ministry for State Security in East Germany, grew in strength and reach, establishing one of the most extensive surveillance states in history. Life under the Stasi’s watchful eye was oppressive, with citizens living in fear of persecution for any perceived anti-state activities.

Music, Cinema, and Art

Lastly, but by no means least, the 1960s was a fascinating period for German culture. The New German Cinema movement began, seeing directors like Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Herzog revolutionize the world of film with their unique and edgy storytelling.

Music, too, saw a shift. In West Germany, the Beatles’ popularity influenced a surge in rock and pop music, while in the East, state-controlled music often meant folksy Schlager music. However, the winds of change were blowing here too, with underground rock bands beginning to find their voice.

In the realm of art, Germany was a vibrant canvas. Artists like Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke emerged, their works reflecting the nation’s complex socio-political landscape.

Germany in the 1960s was a nation of contrasts, a land divided yet teeming with dynamism. It was a time of economic miracles and political protests, of space explorations and state surveillance. Amid all this, the enduring spirit and resilience of the German people shone brightly, paving the way for the reunified, modern Germany we see today. Here are some fascinating vintage photos that will take you back to the 1960s in Germany.

#3 “Flensburger Tageblatt” on the Schmiedestraße in Kappeln (Schlei), 1960s

#5 Air traffic control craft FL11 in the shipyard at the port of Husum, 1960s

#17 Fishing port in Kappeln. In the background is the Nestle plant, today Cremilk, 1960s

#22 Husum Water Tower at Schlossgarten on the Marktstraße, corner of Parkstraße, 1960s

#25 Market at the Hauptmarkt (with St. Gangolf and Marktkreuz) in Trier, 1960s

#26 Market hall and “Cafe am Rathaus” on the market square in Bernkastel-Kues, 1960s

#33 Sailboat with the boat name- “Günn mi dat – FSC SLSV”, Port of Maasholm, 1960s

#42 The Steinweg in Gemünd with a Hanomag. In the background- St. Nicholas Church in Gemünd (Schleiden), 1960s

#76 St.-Jakobs-Kirche, seen from the tower of the town hall, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, 1960s

#88 The Mercedes 220 parked in front of Haus Berg, a hotel in Stuttgart, Germany, 1960s

#96 View from the Porta Nigra of the Hotel Porta Nigra, Trier, Germany, 1960s

#97 View from the tower of the town hall, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, 1960s

#98 View from the tower of the town hall, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, 1960s

#99 View from the tower of the town hall, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, 1960s

#101 The historic arsenal, on the east end of Unter den Linden, East Berlin, Germany, 1960s

#108 A small monument to East Germans who died, attempting to get to West Berlin by jumping out of higher windows on Bernauer Strasse, Germany, 1960s

#112 Bernauer Strasse was the most notorious part of the Berlin Wall, Germany, 1960s

#114 Buildings in East Berlin, near the Wall and Checkpoint Charlie, Germany, 1960s

#118 ‘Der Sozialismus Siegt’ (Socialism is Victorious) is one of the slogans that the East German regime used, Berlin, Germany, 1960s

#137 Old houses in Segringerstrasse, in the center of Dinkelsbühl, on the ‘Romantic Road’ in Germany, Germany, 1960s

#149 The Allied Checkpoint in Helmstedt on the Autobahn to Berlin, Germany, 1960s

#152 Blauer Turm, the Blue Tower, part of the Kaiserpfalz (Emperor’s palace), was built around 1200, Bad Wimpfen, 1960s

#153 Half-timbered houses, a city gate, and the Blue Tower at left, Bad Wimpfen, 1960s

#154 Roter Turm, the Red Tower was also part of the Kaiserpfalz (Emperor’s palace) in Bad Wimpfen. It was built sometime around 1200, Bad Wimpfen, 1960s

#155 The Kaiserpfalz was built by the Hohenstaufen Emperors in the 12th century, Bad Wimpfen, 1960s

#161 Gundelsheim from Bundesstrasse 37, near the station, showing Schloss Horneck, Germany, 1960s

#163 Gundelsheim, a small city on the Neckar River, 20 km (12 miles) north of Heilbronn, Germany, 1960s

#165 Heidelberg Castle. Ottheinrichsbau, one of the main buildings in the courtyard, built by Prince-Elector Otto Heinrich in the 1550s, Germany, 1960s

#166 Heidelberg from castle. The Neckar River is in the background, Germany, 1960s

#167 A V 60 diesel locomotive is moving an old two-axle freight car in the Heilbronn station yard, Heilbronn, Germany, 1960s

#171 Schloss (Not yet rebuilt). The two wings of the palace in Karlsruhe had not yet been rebuilt after damage in World War II, Karlsruhe

#172 The former palace of the Grand Dukes of Baden, now a city building, Karlsruhe

#173 A city gate in Langenburg, east of Heilbronn, topped by a half-timbered house, Langenburg, 1960s

#176 Ludwigsburg Palace at the height of the “Blühendes Barock” (blooming baroque) season

#177 Schloss Favorite, a house built by Eberhard Ludwig, Duke of Württemberg, for his mistress, Ludwigsburg

#179 Ludwigsburg, South Garden. Some of the 500,000 tulips at Ludwigsburg Palace

#184 Rothenburg. Rathaus, the main building of Rothenburg’s city hall was built in the 1570s

#185 Rothenburg’s skyline from the Tauber River valley. The famous “double bridge” is in the foreground. It was built around 1330

#192 The Ammer River, seen from a highway bridge on the way to Garmisch-Partenkirchen

#194 The Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain (2,962 m, 9,715 ft) from the Eibsee

#197 View of the Alps (at least, the beginning of the Alps), near Garmisch-Partenkirchen

#247 Banner on a site clearly still damaged by the war, advertising a ‘Contemporary Soviet Art’ exhibition, Dresden

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Written by Kevin Clark

Kevin Clark is a historian and writer who is passionate about sharing the stories and significance behind historical photos. He loves to explore hidden histories and cultural contexts behind the images, providing a unique insight into the past.

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