Modern identity politics is increasingly pursued in Bavaria after 1945. The background is the integration of displaced persons and it growing economic power with concurrent structural change. The term Free State takes on a new and predominantly positive connotation. The CSU’s strategy of associating itself with Bavaria specifically ─ its party logo is correspondingly designed in the 1970s ─ is successful. This gives rise to a backlash from the “other Bavaria”, which also forms identity. The protest against the nuclear reprocessing plant (WAA for short in German) planned in Wackersdorf unites people from every educational background and social milieu. They collectively protest the plant in the Upper Palatine Forest, which they feel will destroy their homes. Bands such as die Toten Hosen and the Biermösl Blosn perform at the WAAhnsinns Festival in Burglengenfeld.
Bavaria’s location on the border to the GDR and der CSSR governs everyday life, especially in the “border zones”. Mödlareuth, a village divided by a wall, becomes the “Bavarian Berlin”. A homemade hot air balloon, which enabled two families from Thuringia to escape to freedom in Naila in Upper Franconia spectacularly in 1979, is displayed at the museum. Bavaria, the Promised Land, the story itself ready for Hollywood. The situation changes fundamentally when Germany is reunified and the Iron Curtain falls. Then, Bavaria’s central location in Europe comes to bear again in every direction: Bavaria becomes the “center of Europe”.
1975 is a watershed year: For the first time, more people are working in the service sector than in manufacturing. Bavaria is one of the economically strongest regions in Europe today. Mechanical engineering and the automotive, aerospace and electronics industries are particularly important. Along with the stereotypes of Alps, beer, traditional dress and Oktoberfest, BMW, Audi, the high-tech industry and FC Bayern in particular are now the international public faces of the “Bavaria brand”.
The spectacular escape balloon was cleaned and restored in August of 2017 for display at the future Museum in Regensburg. It was placed in a vitrine, which can be seen in Naila Municipal Center until it is moved to Regensburg.