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This is how the draftsman Richard Bolbe imagined a horse-drawn train ride over the Augustus Bridge around 1890. A rider led the team of the yellow train up to the middle of the bridge. Repro from: Trams in Dresden

The book “Tramways in Dresden” is dedicated to the lines in the west of the city


Dresden. In ancient Rome there were four racing teams named after colors in the Circus Maximus, which competed with each other in all races, whereby up to three cars of a racing stable could take part in a race: there were the green (prasina, in the color of spring), the red (russata, in the color of summer), the blues (veneta, in the color of autumn) and the whites (alba, in the color of winter). So you were spoiled for choice as to who to bet money on in a race.

Private and urban railways

When the tram took off in the Saxon royal seat, the people of Dresden also initially had a choice, albeit one that was significantly reduced to two options. On the one hand there were the yellow cars of the "Tramways Company of Germany Ltd." (from 1894 then "Dresdner Straßenbahn-Gesellschaft"), on the other hand the red cars of the "Deutsche Strassenbahngesellschaft in Dresden", which was founded because it was between the Dresden city fathers and English society had come to differences. Competition is good for business. But the respective lanes didn't really get into the enclosure anyway.

The center for the yellows, the suburbs for the reds

As you can find out in the new book “Tramways in Dresden”, the “yellow ones” were allowed to operate the busiest lines in the city in the first half of the 1890s, while the “red ones” trundled around in side streets and in suburbs that were not yet developed. The Dresden tram company finally operated eleven lines in 1901, while the German tram company, which had completely switched to electrical operation by 1900, had ten. Four years later, the city of Dresden bought the two private companies. From January 1, 1906, the Dresden tram ran as a municipal company.

An electric turntable of the type “Großer Kurfürst” and other electric trams roll across the Postplatz before the destruction in 1945. On the right you can see the Sophienkirche, behind the Kronentor the chimney of the “Staatliche Fernheiz- und Elektrizitätswerk” rises up. Repro from: Trams in Dresden

The world in future fever

They lived in a time when cities all over the world were industrializing, modernizing and expanding, which is why a sustainable transport system was necessary. One was in the fever of the future and the electricity-powered tram was modern, that was no different in Dresden than in Munich or New York, where soon, however, one only relied on the subway. Incidentally, the Dresden municipal company - a legacy of the two private companies - still made a strict distinction during the First World War between "yellow" lines with an odd number and "red" lines with an even number.

Many pictures illustrate the changes in the cityscape

The work published by André Marks is the opening volume of a series of books which systematically deals with the tram routes that still existed in Dresden after 1945 and is intended to describe their development up to the 1990s with many valuable image documents and graphics. This volume introduces the lines that rattled, rumbled and shook from Postplatz in the heart of the city towards the west. First, Norbert Kuschinski, the long-time manager of the “Urban Local Transport” collection at the Dresden Transport Museum, explains the development of the Dresden tram from 1872 onwards. Four of the five introductory texts and most of the illustrated texts in this book were controlled by the tram enthusiast who lived in Antonstadt in Dresden (and possibly also “Streetcar Spotter”) Jöran Zill. Frank Feder wrote the chapter about the tram in Gorbitz, he also drew all route graphics.

The captions are enlightening, with some statements you could investigate. If, for example, it is noted on a photo that almost ten guests leave a sidecar at the end point in Cossebaude, this does not mean that the line was generally well used.

Over 700 historical photographs

Last but not least, the work impresses with its abundance of images. More than 70 photographers contributed more than 700 photographs from ancient times, which enable time travel to various epochs in Dresden's recent past. Because the recordings come mainly from the four decades of the GDR and, occasionally, from the time before and from the 1990s.

In 1988 two Wilhelminian style houses on the Weißeritzbrücke are blown up. Photo: Frank Ebermann, from: Trams in Dresden

Look at the change in the cityscape

The focus is not only on the railway lines in the west of the city and the vehicles that run on them, "but also on the development of the streets and squares crossed", as editor André Marks notes. In the captions, the authors also deal with architectural features and the use of buildings as restaurants, shops and businesses. The changes in the cityscape also become clear. The “Palace Hotel Weber” on Postplatz, which even as a ruin was even more imposing than the majority of the new GDR buildings, disappeared. Four photographs of the intersection of Löbtauer Strasse and Weißeritzstrasse as well as Schweriner Strasse and Schäferstrasse, printed on one page of the book, demonstrate the dramatic change in Friedrichstadt as a result of the demolition in the 1980s. There had been war damage in Friedrichstadt, but the historical structure of the quarter remained largely intact - none of it was left after the demolition of the area. On March 17, 1988, two once magnificent, but in one case by the war, in the other case by the socialist scarcity economy, were blown up on the Wilhelminian style houses on the Weißeritz Bridge. They had to give way for the construction of an elevated road as an extension of the Nossener bridge.

PA students filed up ticket slots

Again and again it is the small details that delight. Sure, you could have guessed it. But here you can now read in black and white that the old Augustus Bridge was not given an overhead line system for aesthetic reasons. Therefore, all lines using the bridge had to be equipped with an accumulator railcar, including the line between Postplatz and Pieschen, which was called line 17 from 1906. It is also remembered that the transport companies in Dresden only introduced the wide tickets, which were already widespread in the GDR, in 1988/89 - for which pupils from the 7th grade in the PA (productive work) subject use the entry slots of the validator in the typewriter factory on Hamburger Straße "were allowed" to refine to the new format.

"Without a conductor, with a payment box"

One chapter is also devoted to the Gohlis tram station. When it opened in 1906, there was initially only the left hall, in 1927 the right hall was supplemented with four tracks. From 1967 the transport companies only parked decommissioned cars in the Gohlis tram station, but it was also used as a turning triangle for line 51. A memory refreshment is provided by a recording that not only shows a large train on line 8 that goes to the Otto-Franke-Straße stop, but also - touched on - that record shop on Kesselsdorfer Straße that enjoyed cult status among young people in GDR times you can find (at least occasionally) treasures and “stupid items” from the Amiga and Eterna range, as the relevant labels used to be called, in vain elsewhere. "Plates"? The Spotify generation may frown at the word questioning, at least everyone else will remember vaguely. Older Dresden residents will also remember the signs with the inscription "OS, ohne Schaffner, mit Zahlbox", which were attached to all trams until the validation operation was introduced in 1973.

Berlin cashed in the Gotha open-plan car

For the majority of readers, it will be astonishing what cars have romped about over the decades. Not everything was a success story. In 1960, a prototype of an articulated railcar built in Gotha appeared in Dresden - due to some teething troubles, it was anything but popular. That is why he was soon only doing city tours and ended up in the junkyard in 1970. Later, however, other "Gotha" class cars were used. When Gotha wagons were completely overhauled in Berlin in the mid-1970s, they were given a brown belly band with decorative lace, which made them stand out from other Gotha wagons. In the Dresden workshops, however, this change was immediately reversed. The elegant Gotha large-capacity railcars of the type T4-62 did not even run on Dresden tracks for a whole decade, then they had to be handed over to the "capital of the GDR".

The Tatra wagons shaped an era

On the other hand, the Tatra wagons shaped a whole era. With a few exceptions, they wore the usual red and ivory paintwork of the Prague manufacturing plant. It was not until 1988 that the plan arose to repaint them in Dresden in the city colors yellow-black. You had to use a brush occasionally as early as the 1980s. A photo attests to the wide variety of roof finishes on Tatra railways. Due to the heavy soiling from the ironing, the transport companies subsequently preferred the dark paint of the roof in Dresden, except for the roofs of the front and rear pulpits.

Tracks completely shut down until the end of the GDR

At the end of the GDR, despite repeated repairs, most of the track systems were in an adventurous condition; Hamburger Strasse in particular was notorious. The two-axle vehicles in particular performed true rocking trips, which led to the popular saying “Dresden has the most polite trams. They bow in all directions! ”Appeared.

In 1968 this photo was taken of a “pike” moving into the tram station on Waltherstrasse. A chimney of the typewriter factory can be seen in the background. Repro from: Trams in Dresden

Today Gotha, Hecht and Tatra can only be seen on nostalgic trips

Today - with the exception of nostalgic trips - neither Tatra railways nor Gotha wagons tour in Dresden. This is by no means a matter of course: In Milan, for example, the bright yellow “Ventotto”, the “Twenty-eight”, which was patented over 100 years ago and constructed 90 years ago and has aged gracefully, is still on the road. Many a tram enthusiast from Dresden may wish for a similar fate for the legendary “Hecht”. Because probably no other railcar belongs to the city as much as this type of tram, which was built at the end of the 1920s by the Dresdner Straßenbahn AG, the wagon construction company Christoph & Unmack in Niesky and the Sachsenwerk Licht- und Kraft AG Niedersedlitz under the direction of Professor Alfred Bockemühl, the then director of Dresdner Straßenbahn AG. Until 1945 he was the “king on rails” in Dresden - with an empty weight of 21 tons, however, an admittedly quite heavy steel monarch.

Author of the review: Christian Ruf

Brief overview:

  • Authors: Norbert Kuschinski, Jöran Zill, Frank Ebermann
  • Title: “Trams in Dresden. The lines to the west of the city "
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Transportation
  • Published by VGB Verlagsgruppe Bahn
  • Extent: 288 pages, approx. 700 illustrations
  • Price: 49.95 euros

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by Christian Ruf

[caption id = "attachment_175986" align = "aligncenter" width = "499"] Christian reputation. Photo: hw [/ caption]

About Christian Ruf:

Christian Ruf was born in Munich in 1963 and studied history and political science in Munich and Bonn. Even before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he traveled several times to the GDR, Poland and the Soviet Union. After the reunification he moved to Saxony. Today he works as a freelance journalist with a focus on culture and history in Dresden when he's not in other corners of the world.