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Deutsches Technikmuseum - November

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Exhibit of the Month November 2019

Photo: Both neckties look almost exactly the same. However, the small embroidered logos in the middle are in fact different: one is a "DR", the other a "DB".

Only identical at first glance: Two neckties illustrate how, in the wake of the political reunification, the two German railways were also consolidated in 1994. © SDTB / Photo: C. Kirchner

Neckties from the GDR’s Deutsche Reichsbahn and the Deutsche Bahn AG 1991/1994

Neckties are not normally symbols of change – but these two examples are indeed exceptions.

At first glance they may look identical but closer inspection reveals a significant difference. The tie on the right has the Deutsche Bahn AG logo, the so-called "DB Keks" (cookie), which identifies it as part of the service uniform of the DB train personnel.

The tie on the left is very similar in terms of the colour and fabric but carries the inscription "DR" in its middle, which stands for the GDR’s Deutsche Reichsbahn.

Both ties stem from the early 1990s, which was the period right after German reunification.

Photo: A minister and the Deutsche Bahn CEO are surrounded by railway personnel and microphones for the press. They are standing in front of a map of Germany on which the most important railway lines and a large image of the new DB logo are depicted.

On 10 January 1994 Minister of Transport Wissmann and Deutsch Bahn CEO Dürr celebrated the founding of the Deutsche Bahn AG at the Berlin Central Station, which today is the Ostbahnhof train station. © Historical Collection DB AG / Photo: Hafner

Gradual merger of the two railway companies

Not only were both German States reunited at that time, but their railway companies as well. That was not an easy task, as the railways in the East and West had developed separately for more than forty years.

Details like these neckties show that the consolidation did not take place from one day to the next, but was instead a gradual process. Following political reunification, the German Reichsbahn (DR) initially continued to run parallel to the German Federal Railroad in western Germany. In 1991, the DR even introduced new service uniforms that looked very similar to those of their West German counterparts.

On January 1, 1994, the Deutsche Reichsbahn and the West German Deutsche Bundesbahn were merged to form Deutsche Bahn AG. It is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.