At one time, Trabant cars were a ubiquitous sight on the roads of communist East Germany. Twenty years after German reunification, the iconic rattletrap autos are becoming increasingly rare. But a classic car show held over the weekend dedicated to life before the fall of the Berlin Wall, provided visitors with a taste of socialist motoring.
At a show in the town of Dahlen near Leipzig in the eastern state of Saxony, car lovers exhibited vehicles that were produced in the communist East Germany and other socialist countries between 1949 and 1990. The around 550 vehicles on display at this Concours d'Communism included cars, motorized bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, trucks, tractors, buses and fire trucks. Of course, many Trabants were on show, but less known East German makes such as the Wartburg were also represented, as were police and government vehicles.
Around 15,000 people came to see the spectacle, which was organized by vintage car enthusiast Siegfried Bossack. The show has been held every four years since 2000 and is called "Damals die Renner" (loosely translatable as "They Used to Be Hot"), which conveniently gives the initials DDR, as German Democratic Republic (GDR) was also known. As luck would have it, the event coincided with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Erich Honecker, the late leader of the GDR. Organizers insisted the timing was just coincidental.
The first "Trabi" rolled off the assembly line in the town of Zwickau in 1957. They have become one of the most enduring symbols of the former East Germany.