I was delighted by the Ampelmann, East German traffic light man, when I visited East Berlin in 1987, during the Communist era.
His jaunty hat looked in danger of slipping off in his feverish determination to get to the other side of the road, causing me to spend an unhealthy amount of time pondering the artistic merit of our traffic light designers in the UK.
The Ampelmann is a much-loved, very familiar symbol of the former GDR and he still stands (or marches) happily on across roads in Eastern Germany today. But his life wasn’t always so carefree.
He was conceived as a child-friendly traffic light by Karl Peglau who felt that humans, especially children, would respond more quickly to an image than to a changing light so his secretary, Anneliese Wegner, designed the two Ampelmannchen. Continue reading