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Berlin celebrates the Trabant, iconic East German symbol

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Berlin celebrates the Trabant, iconic East German symbol


“Twenty-five years after the fall of the wall, it’s very symbolic to cross the Bornholmer Brücke in a ‘Trabi’,” reports euronews correspondent Olaf Bruns.

The reason, he says, is that the bridge is where people forced open the first East-West Berlin border crossing on 9th November 1989.

A Trabant invasion followed as the old-fashioned East German cars joined hordes of people pouring into the West.

A quarter of a century on, hundreds of ‘Trabi’ enthusiasts dusted down their favourite vehicles and drove proudly in convoy along the streets of the German capital.

“It sends cold shivers up and down my spine,” said one driver.

Even in 1989 the vehicles seemed to westerners to belong to a distant past.

But for their many fans, their frailty and quaintness are the attraction.

“Men of steel ride cars of cardboard!” said another enthusiast.

Angela and Wolfgang Burkert live two streets away from the Bornholmer Brücke. They were among the crowds who crossed the bridge on foot on that November evening in 1989 – and were delighted to have their passports stamped with a six-month western visa.

“We heard all that noise, our street was packed full of cars, it’s the crossroads just here. And than my husband said: it’s really true, they are serious about it, so let’s go and have a look!” said Angela Burkert.

“We couldn’t believe it at first. We’d lived here for decades – yet now the world was over. We ended up accepting it!” her husband Wolfgang added.

The Trabant was also derided because its two-cylinder motor was totally inefficient, and produced a powerful stinking smell.

Yet even for this environmental problem, at least one enthusiast has found a solution.

Amid Sunday’s celebrations he was spotted crossing the bridge in a ‘Trabi’ – but closer inspection of its hollowed-out shell revealed that he was riding a bicycle underneath.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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