Summer Does More of These Little Things

by jonnywhitlam

Normally I wouldn’t do two posts so similar (Fernsehturm excluded). I especially wouldn’t do them so close together. I am also not really interested in cars. I view cars as the world’s most overrated white good. It’s a way to get from A to B. I’m not condemning those that enjoy cars, but I am stating outright that I don’t understand them. Politics, History and Photography are my things, and this little guy owes himself well to all three.

For those that haven’t heard of this car, the Trabant (or ‘Trabi‘), was the only car produced entirely in the German Democratic Republic (DDR, or ‘East Germany’). Production started in 1957 and the design changed very little leading up to 1990 when Germany reunified. Under communist rule the East Germans would have to apply to government for their car, leading to waiting lists. In the 1960s the waiting lists were about 3 years long, with the longest waiting lists in the 1980s owing to the DDR being on the brink of financial collapse.

Production was slow because materials were scarce. Materials were scarce because the DDR’s buying power was fairly weak. On top of this the different parts for the Trabi were made in factories all over East Germany before being assembled elsewhere. This lead to some factories stockpiling parts so that they could still operate while others were unable to. Communism wasn’t all it was cooked up to be, eh?

On the night the Berlin Wall fell on November 9th 1989 the Trabis made their way to West Berlin. Over the coming months thousands upon thousands of East Germans would load up their Trabis to explore West Germany, if not move there. In the years since the Trabant has become an iconic symbol of former East Germany. The car is slow, loud and environmentally unfriendly, however that 50s design still looks pretty cool to me.

This particular car is licensed in Bulgaria, however the Bulgarian flag on the plate means that it was registered before Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007. Obviously it looks like this one has been here for a while.

Seen on Michaelkirkplatz, Mitte (near Kreuzberg).