Conclusion: Coming to Terms with Tourism

  • Kristin Semmens


By May 1945, many of Germany’s most popular tourist destinations lay in ruins. Eyewitnesses described the devastation. Freiburg, the formerly ‘Baedeker-ish’ (baedekerhaft) capital of the Black Forest, was now ‘another city’, one ‘bombed away’, ‘burned’ and ‘wasted’. It was ‘a skeletal city’. Berlin, the once proud Reich capital, had become a ‘freezing city of hunger’, a ‘field of rubble’ and a ‘city of the dead’. Weimar had also been deeply wounded by the ‘sacrilegious fury of war’: even the Goethe House, the very ‘heart’ of the city, had not been spared. Nuremberg was now a ‘dump’, a ‘horror’, reported a returning emigrant. Munich was buried under some five million cubic metres of debris.1 Germany’s entire tourism infrastructure was badly damaged as well. Hundreds of hotels and guesthouses had closed, were filled with evacuees or had been destroyed. The country’s transportation networks generally were in a dire state and travel by rail was often impossible.2 In the immediate postwar period, a time of widespread deprivation, the necessities of survival naturally took precedence over travel for pleasure. Yet, ‘despite it all’, a 1946 newspaper article suggested, Germans were still thinking about tourism.3 Indeed, the demand for rooms and transportation soon exceeded the limited supply. ‘One is amazed’, exclaimed another article the following year, ‘but there really are still holiday guests’: ‘They sit completely matter-of-factly in the few cafés that are open for a couple of hours per day … in front of a cup of undrinkable brown broth and write postcards.’4


Tourism Industry Postwar Period Tourist Culture Nazi Regime Tourism Society 
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© Kristin Semmens 2005

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  • Kristin Semmens

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