Technology, Automobiles and Speed
When the First World War ended in November 1918, the whole world breathed a sigh of relief. 17 million people had been killed. Almost the entire industry in Europe had been converted to produce armaments and was now looking for new possibilities. Many businesses saw potential in the automobile industry but things in Germany only calmed down after the hyper inflation of November 1923 and the introduction of the new Rentenmark and the economy gradually began to recover. In Halle (Saale) too the rationing of petrol and the registration restrictions for cars were lifted, so that 277 cars were registered by December; a year later there were 640.
The registration of motorcycles also rose inexorably. By now, almost every industrious and economical worker was able to afford a motor vehicle. Because of the economic boom, the first five years of the 1920s would go down in history as the legendary Golden Twenties. “Big, bigger” and “strong, stronger” was the motto; manufacturers were competing over who could produce an even bigger and even faster vehicle. Triggered by the reckless speed of driving, uniform traffic regulations were introduced; these were intended to control the ever-increasing amount of traffic and to prevent dangers for pedestrians as well as drivers. The triumph of the automobile was definitely unstoppable. Halle’s telephone directory of 1928 lists 110 companies that were working entirely or as suppliers for this new industry. The Germania machine factory on Dessauer Straße 5 and the Otto Kühn company developed and produced various mid-range cars, including saloons, sport-roadsters and convertibles. Otto Kühn alone engaged 700 staff and 100 employees. Even driving schools recorded a boom, so that there were nine in the city by the end of the 1920s. The construction of the multi-storey garage in Halle-Süd and the petrol station in the Merseburger Straße are still evidence of the visionary automobile boom in Halle (Saale). The development happening on the ground also began to take place in the air in the 1920s. The Grand Air Days, which were held on the race course in 1924, are now considered as being the trigger for the conception and construction of the airfield Halle-Nietleben. To begin with, the Air Traffic PLC (Flugverkehr Halle AG) was founded in 1925 and was given a plot in Halle-Nietleben on which to build an airfield. The official opening took place on August 15th 1925. From 1926, several European destinations were being flown to. A year later, scheduled flight operations were suspended and the airfield was used as a sports airfield from 1928. All civilian air travel was taken on by the newly opened Halle/Leipzig airport, which still operates today. Shortly after the opening of the airfield in Halle-Nietleben, the operators realised that it would not be able to meet the growing demands by the rapidly increasing number of passengers. A new airfield was enforced with the help of the Ministry of Transport, which was at this time aiming to classify the division of airspace. The new airfield was to be located in Schkeuditz and thus exactly half-way between Halle (Saale) and Leipzig. Paul Thiersch, the director of Burg Giebichenstein School of Arts and Crafts, took on the task of planning the airport. He placed a modern, circular airport in the centre and designed the airfield and hangar, as well as an administrative building. The airport Halle/Leipzig was opened on April 18th 1927. In May 1931, the modern and functional airport restaurant opened, which was designed by Hans Wittwer. Wittwer had been head of the department of architecture and interior design at Burg Giebichenstein School of Arts and Crafts. Halle/Leipzig airport was fourth in the ranking of the busiest airports in Germany in 1937.