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The last Trabant

Fifty years ago, the very first Trabant rolled off the production line at the Sachsenring Automobile Works in Zwickau. The compact car with a plastic body would become a potent and enduring symbol of the German Democratic Republic, as over three million were produced between 1957 and 1991. In 1990, the Trabant was named Auto of the Year, but its days were numbered. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, drivers in the east finally had access to the 'Westwagen' (Western cars) many had longed-for.

A few weeks before production was halted in April of 1991, Martin Roemers documented the life of the factory. Achim Dresler, Vice Director of the Saxon Museum of Industry in Chemnitz, comments: 'Martin Roemers' photos capture the final moments of this world in sober black and white. Encountered during their shop floor routines, the auto workers presented themselves to the foreign photographer. Is it my interpretation after the fact or is it really so? - One can make out the impending break in their lives in their faces.

Today, there are still 52,432 Trabants registered. The Trabant has been transformed from unloved curse into legendary cultural object by virtue of its decimation and temporal distance. It serves as a projective object for all kinds of nostalgic attributions of a lost world once vibrant.'

Martin Roemers' book 'Trabant, the final days of production' was published at the end of 2007.
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