Karl Peglau

Engineer, Deceased Person

1927 – 2009


Who was Karl Peglau?

Karl Peglau was a German traffic psychologist who invented the iconic Ampelmännchen traffic symbols used in the former East Germany in 1961. The Ampelmännchen depicts a symbolic person on the red and green pedestrian traffic lights.

Peglau wanted to create a traffic light that would be both appealing to children, yet easily accessible and understandable for elderly Germans. He deliberately designed the human figures, known as the Ampelmännchen, to be both creative and "cute".

The Ampelmännchen, which is widely beloved in the former German Democratic Republic, is one of the symbols which still "enjoy the privileged status of being one of the few features of East Germany to have survived the end of the Iron Curtain with his popularity unscathed." Fans of Peglau's have used it to symbolize the so-called Ostalgie, or revival of East German aesthetic as trendy and chic.

In 1997, the German government attempted to replace the Ampelmännchen used in the former East Germany with the slighter, more generic version used in the former West Germany. A campaign, called Save the Ampelmännchen, was launched by supporters, which successfully preserved Peglau's Ampelmännchen in the East.

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May 18, 1927
Bad Muskau
Nov 29, 2009

on July 23, 2013


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