Kreuzungsfrei: remembering the autobahn and autobahn propaganda images

Thanks to the digitization of the extensive archive of the Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, we can see Germany’s autobahn system as it was represented in the 1930s. Remembering the autobahn in continuity with the more recognizably horrific campaigns of the Nazis casts these images in a disturbing light. In the past 65 years, the autobahnen have undergone a de-Nazification and are surrounded with an air of fantasy within the car-enthusiast communities of Britain and the United States. Certainly the autobahn’s derestricted sections contribute to this fascination, but it is difficult to praise the efficiency, technical excellence, and implied power of the autobahn in light of Nazi claims that such a harmonious and competent roadway could only be constructed in Germany, by Germans. Kreuzungsfrei, or without (traffic) intersections implies a lack of intellectual intersections as well. From my experience, the autobahn is completely integrated in everyday life in Germany and has a sense of utter normalcy, yet I find the foreign admiration of these former Adolf Hitlers Straβen troubling at times. There is indeed a clear difference between today’s Autobahnen and the Reichsautobahnen, but we must keep in mind that in the fantastic realm of automobilism and in the very act of remembrance itself there will always be an element of forgetting.



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