It was in Germany that some of the earliest pioneering efforts to operate electric tramways occurred, with the Lichterfelde line in Berlin dating back to 1881. This line was engineered by Werner von Siemens, whose name was to become synonymous with making of the most important innovations in the use of electric traction.
From these small beginnings the tramcar – as elsewhere in Europe – came to be the dominant form of urban transport in many German towns and cities during the early decades of the 20th century. The devastation wrought by World War 2 saw many systems seriously damaged or destroyed but, unlike Britain and France, many of the surviving German systems were rebuilt and restored with new vehicles replacing the old.
As a result – in both East and West Germany – the tramcar continued to play a pivotal role through the 1950s and 1960s; indeed, many systems still thrive, although a number – such as Flensburg, Hamburg and Kiel – all disappeared.
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