Berlin 1945

It must have seemed like the end the world at the end of World War II, particularly in Berlin, German. The country suffered massive destruction from both the air and ground forces of the Allied Armies. Berlin was left in rubbles and Germany was divided between USSR, France, England and the Americans.

The Germany economy was destroyed and as one historian described postwar Germany in the following manner:

“At the end of World War II, Germany was in a shambles. Fire bombs—more destructive than the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—had completely destroyed Dresden. The population of Cologne had dropped from 750,000 before the war to less than 32,000. Germany’s storybook castles and great cathedrals lay in ruins, while makeshift shanty towns housed hundreds of thousands of Germans displaced by the Soviet occupation of the Eastern Provinces.

Industrial output was at a standstill, and German currency was practically worthless. A pack of American-made cigarettes could fetch more goods on the black market than hundreds of German marks.”

By 1948, the German economy was rebounding in what has been called Wirtschaftswunder, German for “economic miracle” . This occurred through currency reform, an end to wage and price controls, turning to a market economy and with the help of the Marshall Plan (there is great podcast by Planet Money with NPR on the plan

The Americans guided the Germany economy to be like its own consumerdriven market economy. The worker and producers of goods would also be the consumer of those goods, which was the idea that Henry Ford had introduced and scaled in America. If the Model A Ford was the exemplar of the car made for the “every person” the VW beetle was to be even more successful.The VW Volkswagen is one of the most successful cars in history. And Volkswagen was a significant force in rebuilding Germany.

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