Archives for September 2010

Die Reichsgaragenordnung – the parking space law

Paragraph Symbol - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / froxxWith the invention of the garage towards the end of the 1930s, the next logical step (in Germany, at least) was to create a law governing them.

It was called the Reichsgaragenordnung and came into effect in 1939.  And yes, it is still on the German statute book and valid to this day!

I first came across the name in the Hausordnung (house rules) for one of the flats that I lived in.

Im übrigen ist jeder Garageneigentümer zur strengen Beachtung der Reichsgaragenordnung verpflichtet.

But which rules does this law actually contain?

Well, the most important part is used by planning departments to determine how many parking spaces are needed for a new building.  If you build a block of flats, the law determines how many parking spaces you need to provide for the residents.

It also applies when you modernise a building, often causing parking spaces to be located on previously green sites due to lack of available land.  In some cases, the owners end up paying for the parking spaces to be created elsewhere in the town.

It is irrelevant whether the tenants actually own or even use that number of cars.

In Austria, where the law is also still valid, it prohibits tenants from keeping mopeds in their flats.

The 203-page law apparently also deals with what you are allowed to store in your garage, winter tyres for example.

One might go as far as seeing this as being typical for Germany – a law for everything!  Personally, I am always fascinated to find laws like this one that did not get revised with the creation of the Federal Republic in 1949.

Germany’s first garage

Most people who know something about 20th Century German history, will know that the name “Volkswagen” is a translation of “people’s car”, and that the idea behind the Volkswagen was to create a car that a large part of the population of could afford.  It led to the the town of Wolfsburg being built in 1938 (although it only become known as such in 1945) to house the production plant for the cars.

What many are not aware of – myself included until recently – is where these cars were to be kept.  Obviously most of the houses built before 1938 did not have garages.  Certainly the housing used by the part of the popular expected to buy the Volkswagen did not have them.  This led to a Volksgarage being designed.

I do not know if it was ever called that, but I do know where it was built and where the very first and possibly only example of one is today.

In 1938 there was an exhibition in Frankfurt called the “1. Deutschen Bau- und Siedlungsausstellung”.  The exhibition contained examples of buildings that were to be used in new German settlements, such as the new town of “Zeppelinheim”.  Amongst these buildings were timbered houses, a town hall, even a fountain.  And what is allegedly Germany’s first garage.

At the end of the exhibition, many of the buildings were dismantled and re-assembled to the north of Oberursel in an area that was being used to teach people about farming, the so-called Reichssiedlungsschule.  This area later became known as “Camp King”.

Germany's first garage, built 1938, now in Oberursel, a listed building

Germany's first garage, now in Oberursel

That very first garage was one of them, and can still be seen here today.  It is now a listed building.

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