After the war the reincarnation of the Bauhaus school of design at Ulm did much to reinvigorate the sense of design and industry in Germany while at the same time asserting the importance of the Bauhaus philosophy in forging a new German identity separate from its Nazi past. It is important to retrace the context of the development of the Bauhaus School of design at Ulm in terms of its past and the vital role it played in presenting a new definition of Germany quite apart from its Nazi legacy and how this helped industry in Germany.
The Bauhaus school of design underwent three different phases of development In the wake of World War I and all troubles it revealed there was a need to tap into the more rational aspects of everyday life. The sentiment was seized upon by famed architect Walter Gropius who opened the school in Wiemar. Gropius in a way was forwarding the area where Germany would seek an advantage in production, that is by producing common place article with an artistic aesthetic and remaining competitive relative to other economies with more resources. Whether this was the intention of Gropius and the early architects of Bauhaus is not entirely clear but it is perhaps specious to separate the Zeitgeist of the time from the ideas of the innovators. The Bauhaus School went through three different phases in its early history influenced by the philosophical leanings of its directors. Gropius was followed as director by Hannes Meyer when the school moved to Dessau in 1928. Meyer more of a formal thinker removed much of the aesthetic underpinnings of Gropius and became more concerned with the influence of science and its translation into a greater sense of function. This turned the pendulum toward the functional aspect of products and perhaps subverted the original aim of the school; however, the school in retrospect was to go through this cycle of thesis and antithesis between function and form throughout its history. Meyer was succeed by Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe who once again reasserted the importance of aesthetics over function.
Under increasing pressure from the Nazis the school closed in 1930 but the ideas of the movement where disseminated throughout the world by its prominent leaders. Walter Gropius and Meyer moved to America and taught at the highly influential Harvard School of Design and essentially laid the basis for the American Bauhaus movement. Others moved to Russia and the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. The persecution by the Nazi's and the spread of ideas did much to rescue the high achievements of German design from the stigma of association with its Nazi past.
The opening of a design School in the Bauhaus model in Ulm in 1951 did much to reserect the the special achievement of the Bauhaus movement and in turn it did much to offer a new face to German design.
Following the horrors of World War II there was a reaction to the the association between science and society as this had been a feature of the rationale for Nazi expansionism as it is put eloquently here:
it is crucial to recall that the Ulm project to forge a new post fascist "industrial culture" diverged markedly from the more general postwar cultural pessimism about the potentially redemptive powers of science