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1968: The year of cultural revolution

Heike Mund db
May 4, 2018

Across West Germany and beyond, young people took to the streets in 1968 to challenge the status quo in politics, lifestyle and culture. Like the flower power movement in the US, this youth effected great change.

women inshort dresses
Image: Express/Getty Images

The Federal Republic of Germany was still young when its post-war society experienced great turbulence in the late 1960s.

Young people began to rebel against the morals of the times, the former Nazis still in power, and against elitist and patriarchal structures, traditions and lifestyle patterns that hadn't changed.

At the time, students were requested to call the president of the University of Cologne "Your Magnificence," while even by the mid-'60s students still wore a suit and tie. And most of the university professors had previously taught classes under the Nazis. 

Read moreWhy Germany's 1968 movement has not failed 

Rebellion against power elites

But the state was not interested in renewal or change. Conflict was unavoidable. And it shook the country to the core, bringing political and cultural change — the consequences of which are still noticeable today.

Nationwide student unrest actually started in 1967, after the student Benno Ohnesorg was shot by a policeman during a protest in West Berlin against the visit of the Shah of Iran.

Read moreRevisiting Germany's protest movement of 1968 in photos

Rio Reiser, lead singer of the cult band Ton Steine Scherben bellowed the soundtrack for the movement of '68: "Destroy what destroys you."

From make-up to free love and student protests, click through the picture gallery above to discover what turned the tide in Germany in 1968; and below to go inside the often violent protests that gripped West Germany.