Class Struggle in the driver’s cab

It was only in 1984 that the West-Berlin municipal transport services, BVG, took over the entire S-Bahn (commuter railway) railway network from the “Deutsche Reichsbahn” (DR; German Reichs Railway), the operating company of the GDR railway. The DR only handed over the oldest carriages, all displaying the characteristic red and yellow paintwork.
The relation of the two public transport services was defined by conflicts, quips and harassments throughout the Cold War. One of the low points in these quarrels took place in January 1953. The female S-Bahn driver Inge Müller was removed from the driver’s cabin at Potsdamer Platz and send off to an undesired free evening by an BVG officer and the police because women were not allowed to drive trams in the western sector of Berlin. “Das Vorzeigen meiner Fahrberechtigung und mein Hinweis, dass ich nicht daran denke, den Verkehrsplan zu schmeißen, blieben unbeachtet” (Showing my driver’s license and my hint that I had no intention to topple the time table remained unnoticed) the indignant driver later told the newspaper “Neues Deutschland” (New Germany). While East Berlin trained women to operate the crank handles of a tram since 1950, such equal opportunities were still far away at the Western BVG. Although the eastern side had agreed to follow the western regulations within the zonal border, they repeatedly sent female drivers to operate the lines that connected Mitte and Tiergarten, Treptow and Neukölln, or Prenzlauer Berg and Wedding and crossed this border; thus they tried to hint at the backwardness of the class enemy.