1970s / East German / Rewind

Rewind to East Germany in 1978

We’re traveling back to East Germany in 1978.  The pictures all show busy parking lots but we don’t know exactly where they were taken – maybe someone more familiar with the country can recognize the location based on the landmarks visible in the background?

The pictures show the expected assortment of Trabants and Wartburgs, but there are also quite a few surprises hidden in there.  What cars can you identify in the following shots?  What one(s) would you most like to have in your garage?

We’d love a Trabant in any color, but ultimately we wouldn’t be able to turn down the Tatra visible on the left side of the first picture.



Photos courtesy of Germany’s Bundesarchiv.

5 thoughts on “Rewind to East Germany in 1978

  1. The first two are Leipzig, the third is Jena.

    On the first one, you can see the “Völkerschlachtdenkmal”, a monument erected in honour of the victory of European nationalism over Napoleons “European Idea” – a wonder the communists didn’t tear it down… On the second, you can see the “M” logo of the “Leipziger Messe”, the Leipzig Trade Fair. I guess both images were taken during the fair, which was an quite important event for East Germany and the Comecon, as well as for companies importing industry goods to or exporting from the communist nations.

    The third shows one of the parking lots in front of the Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ) company. CZJ was quite an important optics company for the entire Comecon, and every time I come across an CZJ product I can feel the craftmanship.

    Please note that in the last image one can see that most East-Germans parked their cars “in reverse”, while West-Germans are more prone to parking their car “front first” – a habit that is still visible today. The reason for this divide isn’t quite clear to me, but I guess the East-German driving schools put an emphasis on parking in reverse. As I think it is safer I personally prefer the East-German parking method – even though I learned driving in the West…

    • The Bundesarchiv has the original captions:
      “ADN-ZB Kaufhold 6.9.1978 Leipziger Herbstmesse 1978-Blick auf einen der Parkplätze auf dem Freigelände der Messe. Im Hintergrund das Völkerschlachtdenkmal.”

      Leipzig Autumn Fair 1978 view on one of the parking spaces in the open area of ​​the fair. In the background the the Monument to the Battle of the Nations.

      “ADN-ZB Kaufhold 6.9.78
      Leipzig: Herbstmesse 78 – Typisch für das Leipzig dieser Tage ist dieses Bild – überall wo die überdimensionalen MM auf das Messegelände hinweisen, sind auf den Parkplätzen freie Plätze rar, geben sich die verschiedensten Modelle mit Nationalitätskennzeichen aus vielen Ländern der Erde Stelldichein.”

      Leipzig Autumn Fair 78 – Typical of Leipzig these days: anywhere the oversized MM point to the fair, there the parking lots are scarce, and a variety of car models with vehicle registration codes from many countries around the world find a rendezvous.

      “ADN-ZB Franke 28.7.78
      Interkosmos – In dem Mittelpunkt der durch die Kosmosforschung zu lösenden Aufgaben steht die Nutzung für die Belange der Volkswirtschaft. Diese Aufgabe wurde vom VEB Carl Zeiss Jena in enger Zusammenarbeit mit dem Institut für kosmische Forschung Moskau mit der Entwicklung und dem Bau der sechskanaligen Multispektralkamera MKF-6 gelöst. Die erste einsatzfähige MKF-6 wurde UdSSR zum Einbau in das Raumschiff Sojus 22 im Jahre 1976 als Beitrag der DDR zur Realisierung der Interkosmos-Aufgaben übergeben.”

      Intercosmos – Research tasks for the use ub the interests of the national economy are in the center to be solved by space science. Such a task was solved by VEB Carl Zeiss Jena in close cooperation with the Institute for Cosmic Research Moscow with the development and construction of the six-channel multispectral camera MKF-6. The first operational MKF-6 was handed over to the USSR for installation in the spacecraft Soyuz 22 in 1976, as a contribution of the GDR to the realization of the Intercosmos tasks.

      • Thanks for the clarification on where the photos were taken. I didn’t find the pictures on the Bundesarchiv’s website so I didn’t see the caption.

        Interesting on the parking, I had no idea. Do driving schools in Germany still teach different depending on where they are, or is that a thing of the past now?

      • It would be interesting to find out what the situation is today when learning to drive – alas, I have no information what driving schools teach nowadays.

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