Posts Tagged ‘This day in history’

Made in Germany

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Did you know that the familiar “Made in Germany” trademark is not a German invention? It is a British idea. On 23 August 1887 – 126 years ago today – The United Kingdom passed a law, called the Merchandise Marks Act. This law required the labeling of all products of foreign origin. At a time when British industry dominated world market, its government wanted to reduce foreign competition. The new law required each foreign nation to stamp products shipped to Britain with a “MADE IN…” seal. The Merchandise Marks Act was particularly aimed at Germany because it was suspected that the Germans were copying British products. The new regulation intended to make foreign products more obvious, stigmatize them, and hopefully encourage British buyers to “buy British.”

Following World War II, "Made in Germany" became synonymous with quality, reliability, and longevity

“Made in Germany” trademark, first applied in 1887

At first the plan worked because, even before the new law had gone into effect, German products had had the reputation of being cheap and inferior. But the German Industrialist, Werner von Siemens, came to realize that German industry had to improve the quality of its products if it wanted to compete in world markets. Soon, German knifes, watches, beer, and pianos were of as good a quality as their British counterparts. Sometimes, they were even better while still remaining less expensive. But the real triumph of the “Made in Germany” trademark did not occur until after Word War I. By then, Germany had begun to offer custom-tailored, quality products rather than mass-produced items. The method worked well for Germany. Its “Made in Germany” trademark ultimately developed into a sign of quality. It stood for quality, reliability, and longevity.

Now the question – is there still a need for a trademark in the globalized markets of today? Airbus parts, for instance, are manufactured in four different countries. Individual components are installed worldwide. Which “Made in…” trademark should be stamped on an Airbus do you think? Your thoughts?

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

 

Otto Lilienthal’s Last Glider Flight

Friday, August 9th, 2013

This day in history marks Otto Lilienthal’s last glider flight. He was a German pioneer of aviation and became known as the Glider King and Father of Flight. The date of his last flight was 9 August 1896. It was a beautiful summer day in Stoelln, about 60 kilometers northwest of Berlin, when Otto Lilienthal stepped into his harness for the last time. He had already made three successful flights that day and had attained his usual flying distance of over 800 feet. On the fourth attempt, he was slowly gliding into the valley when an unexpected sudden gust caught him off guard. His glider pitched and stalled. The Glider King lost control and crashed to the ground.

Otto Lilienthal had piloted gliders since 1891. During those five years, he made over 3000 flights and built 18 different contraptions. His largest double decker glider had a wingspan of 23 feet. His designs were similar to today’s frames for hang gliders and ultralight aircraft. He and his younger brother Gustav had tinkered with strap-on wings, using willow switches and cotton fabric, since Otto was fourteen. The storks near their home along the River Peene had been their inspiration. The brothers proceeded to study the flight of birds and soon recognized that the principal of aerodynamics is involved in flight and that wings need to have a curvature.

Otto Lilienthal German Pionier of Aviation He crashed on 9 August 1896

Otto Lilienthal
German Pionier of Aviation
He crashed on 9 August 1896

On Otto Lilienthal’s last glider flight on 9 August, 1896, he dropped from a height of about 50 feet, still in his glider. As he was placed on a cot, he is reported to have said, “I hardly have any pain. I’m just going to rest a little bit.” He, in fact, had fractured his spine and died from the injuries the following day.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

 

Walter Ulbricht

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

On this day in history–July 24,–communist statesman Walter Ulbricht became the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Social Unity Party of East Germany. He had been the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of East Germany since 1949. When the party had restructured into a more Soviet-style Communist party the following year, Walter Ulbricht had become General Secretary of the Central Committee. In 1953, that position was renamed First Secretary, making Walter Ulbricht the actual leader of East Germany. On account of a childhood diphtheria infection, he retained a squeaky falsetto voice, which made his speeches difficult to understand.

Walter Ulbricht, East German Statesman 1950-1971

Walter Ulbricht, East German Statesman
1950-1971

Already during the Weimar Republic (1919 to 1933) Ulbricht had played a key role in the creation of Germany’s Communist Party. He had spent the Hitler years in exile in the Soviet Union. In 1945, he had returned to Germany to reconstruct the communist Social Unity Party and to help establish the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Walter Ulbricht was a loyal follower of Leninist and Stalinist principles and is quoted as having said, “Es muss demokratisch aussehen, aber wir muessen alles in der Hand haben–it has to look democratic but we must keep our hands in everything.”

In 1950, Ulbricht announced a five-year plan concentrating on the doubling of industrial production in East Germany. By 1952, eighty percent of industry had been nationalized. Consumer goods were often in short supply or of shoddy quality. His leadership is said to have been repressive, and undemocratic, and that he crushed all opposition. As a result, large numbers of citizens fled to the West. In order to stop the outflow of workers he gave orders to build the Berlin Wall in 1961. Only two months earlier he had publicly stated, “Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten–No one has the intention to erect a wall.” His unwillingness to seek an accord with West Germany coupled with his difficult relationship with Soviet Union party leader, Leonid Brezhnev, forced his resignation in 1971. He was replaced by his protage, Erich Honecker.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.