Institut für Stadtgeschichte 
Karmeliterkloster, Frankfurt am Main

Chronology: Contemporary History 1945-2000 (1)

Contemporary Histrory 1945-2000 (1)

The Social Democrats (SPD) emerged as the strongest party from the first local elections after the Second World War, followed by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU, 33.6%), the Communist Party (KPD, 11.6%) and the Liberal Party (LPD, 1.3%). The first freely and democratically elected city council since the beginning of Nazi rule convened in the large auditorium of the police headquarters on June 21, 1946. On July 25 the council voted for the chief municipal director of Düsseldorf, Walter Kolb, as their new mayor. Kolb was installed in office in the Great Hall of Frankfurt University on August 1, 1946.

In 1947 Frankfurt became the headquarters for the general administration of the United Economic Area of the American and British Zones (Bizone). Frankfurt was also the venue of the German Economic and Executive Council, with representatives of the various federal states, in June 1947. In 1948 Frankfurt became part of the French zone (Trizone).

The foundation stone is laid
The foundation stone is laid for the reconstruction of the Paulskirche (St. Paul´s Church) on March 18, 1947.

On May 18, 1948, the 100th anniversary of the National Assembly was celebrated in the rebuilt Paulskirche (St. Paul's Church). Fritz von Unruh gave his Speech to the Germans, with a critical analysis of the Nazi period. The reconstruction of the Paulskirche was seen as Frankfurt's most important cultural task. From this moment onwards it was regarded as a symbol of democracy and liberty and as the traditional site of German parliamentarian democracy.

In 1949 Frankfurt became a newspaper city: after the appearance of the Frankfurter Rundschau as the first German daily paper in August 1945, the first issue of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was published on November 1, 1949.

The first few years of the post-war period were very much dominated by reconstruction. In 1951 the city council decided to oversee the rebuilding of the centre, for which it commissioned a company called Frankfurter Aufbau AG, and defined a plan for the street layout of the historic core of Frankfurt, the Altstadt (Old Town). The last air raid gaps were finally closed in the 1980s.

In 1956 the 70-metre (230-foot) telecommunications building was erected on the rubble of a former stately home, the Palais Thurn und Taxis. Germany's first public multi-storey car park, designed by M. Meik and H. Romeick, was built at Grosser Kornmarkt, behind the Katharinenkirche (St. Catherine's Church). It was called Parkhaus Hauptwache. In 1961, Zurich House, one of Frankfurt's first skyscrapers, was completed. Built in aluminium and glass by Udo von Schauroth and Werner Stücheli, it is located on Opernplatz. In the same year Heinningerturm was opened on Sachsenhäuser Berg - a grain silo with an observation restaurant at the top and a height of 120 metres (394 feet).

Opening of the underground line
Official opening of the underground line from Hauptwache to Nordweststadt on October 4, 1968. Photograph: Kerner

The commissioning of the first Frankfurt underground line from Hauptwache to Nordweststadt in 1968 marked a new chapter in the development of urban transport. Further underground lines were to follow, spanning Frankfurt's map in a star shape. In 1993 the underground system of the city reached 81.1 km (50.4 miles), the tram system 99.7 km (62 miles) and bus routes 448 km (278 miles). Yet despite the good range of public transport, there was also a continuous increase in private vehicles. By January 1, 1993, the registration of motorized vehicles in Frankfurt had reached 334,935.

Frankfurt Airport is a major hub of international air traffic. The Central Terminal of the airport was opened in 1972. In all, Frankfurt airport was designed to process 30 million passengers per year and 36 jets at any one time. Runway West was used for the first time on April 12, 1984, after a construction period that had been accompanied by rather fierce demonstrations. In 1992 the airport recorded 340,468 take-offs and landings and 30,758,852 passengers. In 1998 the number of passengers totalled about 43 million. The increase in passengers and freight therefore made it necessary to extend the airport even further in the 1990s. 1994 saw the completion of Terminal 2, and the same year also marked the beginning of the construction of Cargo City South on a section of the former Rhine Main Air Base. Another runway is planned in the next few years.

The population of Frankfurt increased rapidly during the first years after the war. By 1949 it had already reached 500,000. From 1956 to 1961, the figure rose from 623,172 to 683,081, thus reaching its peak in the history of the city. In 1972, after the reorganization of location government in the federal state of Hesse, four towns were incorporated into Frankfurt - Nieder-Erlenbach, Kalbach, Harheim and Nieder-Eschbach, totalling 30 square kilometres (19 square miles) and a population of 16,000. Despite this development, the total number of inhabitants in Frankfurt showed a slight downturn and dropped to 621,347 by 1982. Ten years later, however, the city had a population of 660,492, of whom 321,298 were male and 339,194 female, 183,779 foreigners and 476,713 Germans. In the mid-1990s the number of inhabitants ceased to fluctuate and totalled about 650,000. By 1987 the city had 283,451 commuters into Frankfurt and 31,329 out of Frankfurt. It had 35,457 places of employment with a workforce of 558,457, of whom 99,669 worked in industry (1992: 94,442). In 1996 the number of employees paying national insurance contributions totalled 458,454.

Since 1960 Frankfurt has concluded twinning arrangements with Lyon (1960), Birmingham (1966), Milan (1970), Cairo (1979), Tel Aviv (1980), Guangzhou (1988), Toronto (1989), Budapest (1990), Prague (1990), Cracow (1991) and Granada in Nicaragua (1991), as a reflection of its growing international significance.

In the 1977 local elections the Christians Democrats (CDU) gained an absolute majority, with 50 seats on the council, while the Social Democrats (SPD) gained 38 and the Liberals (FDP) 5. Walter Wallmann became mayor of Frankfurt. Hilmar Hoffman (SPD), who had headed the city's cultural department since 1972, won Wallmann over for his "centenary project", the Frankfurter Museumsufer (Frankfurt Museum Embankment). Several museums were built that can be regarded as showpieces of cultural prestige: the German Architectural Museum (1984), the Film Museum (1984), the Museum of Applied Arts (1985), Kunsthalle Schirn (an art gallery, 1986), the Jewish Museum (1988), the Museum of Prehistory and Early History (1989), an extension to the Städel (1991) and the Museum of Modern Art (1991). Located on either side of the river Main, the museums were linked by a new pedestrian bridge, the Holbeinsteg, in 1991. Also, 1983 saw the opening of several houses built in their original historic styles on the east side of the Römerberg, as well a house called Zum schwarzen Stern (The Black Star).

© Helmut Nordmeyer, Translation: Hugh Beyer

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