The Berlin S-Bahn has been a political pawn for decades; it reflects the ups and downs of 20th-century German history. There is nothing comparable anywhere else.

The Nazi dictatorship abused the S-Bahn at the 1936 Olympics to present its advantages and from 1939 to keep the armaments industry running. During the last days of WWII the S-Bahn became the front line.

In four decades of Cold war between 1945 und 1990, the S-Bahn was the link between East and West - "one service for two systems" - operationally, technically, personally; under the anachronistic name "Deutsche Reichsbahn". Nowhere else can the absurdity of division and cooperation be conveyed so closely as with the history of the S-Bahn.

After the reunification of Berlin in 1990, the reconstruction and the joining together of the divided routes became an important symbol for the two halves of the city growing together again.


Even the technical and operational problems of recent years can be interpreted as a reflection of social influences because of the exaggerated privatization campaign that caused them.