In most West European countries, buying a motorcycle in the 1920s or 1930s was the only affordable entry point to mechanised transport for most working-class people. The PS.Speicer museum at Einbeck, a small town in Lower Saxony, on the River Leine between Göttingen and Hanover, holds the largest collection of motorcycles in Germany and its unique feature is that it examines in some detail the social history as well as the technological development of the motor cycle. The collection also includes some historic motor cars whose relationship to motor cycles is one of the museum’s principal themes.
The collection is displayed in a seven-storey, five-bay former granary, built in 1898 and adapted in 2012 as a cultural heritage building called the Kulturstiftung Kornhaus (Granary Culture Centre). The progression of the displays is largely chronological, examining first the technological origins of the motor cycle, then its popularity in the 1920s and 30s, when one of the implications of the Third Reich’s promise of Kraft durch Freude (strength through joy) was that every family should have a motor car – a promise that long afterwards took the form, of the Volkswagen ‘Beetle’. The extensive use of motorcycles by the Wehrmacht during the Second War is examined, together with the popularity of colourful scooters between 1945 and the early 1960s, when motor cars really did become affordable for most families, and sales of motor cycles diminished, while the sport of motorcycling became ever more popular. There are displays showing the success of Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, and their sporting successes, and the influence on both sporting and everyday motorcycling of improved safety equipment. The collections totals more than 300 motor cycles and cars.