The 1950s

The wounds of the Second World War were still deep, the Cold War was smoldering and a "balance of terror" split Germany and the world. In the young Federal Republic a broad mass of citizens was able to regain prosperity, self-confidence and, thus, normality in their everyday lives because of the so-called "economic miracle". The symbol of the economic recovery was the VW Beetle, dominating the streets of Germany in the 1950s. In the living rooms, TV sets became a new standard. The age of mass media and consumer culture had begun. After decades of wars and crises, a new kind of family idyll was propagated: the ideal world of the nuclear family in their own home and environment. Conformity was the order of the day.

However, the youth had other things in mind. The 1950s were also the decade, when Rock'n'Roll set off to conquer Europe via the United States. Instead of following their parents' orders, the youngsters danced to the rhythms of Bill Haley or Peter Kraus and, above all, to the sound of the King of Rock'n'Roll, Elvis Presley. Petticoat and jeans were the uniform of this new rebellious attitude to life. James Dean became the idol of a whole generation of "Halbstarke" and beatniks, the Vespa a symbol of their freedom and independence.