The Trabant by David Liu

Around 3 million Trabants, called Trabis, were produced by East Germany from 1957 to 1991 as an answer to the West German Volkswagen Beetle. Unreliable and inefficient, Trabis have regularly topped the worst-car lists around the world.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, East Germans abandoned their unreliable vehicles. Sales fell and the company halted production in 1991, the year after German reunification. (photo by David Liu)

Made of plastic produced from recycled waste materials, the 18 horsepower Trabi cost close to the annual salary of an East German and took up to eight years to get.

A Trabi joke published in History Extra goes like this:

Q. What does the ‘601’ in Trabant 601 stand for?
A. 600 people will order one, but only one will get it delivered.
(Or, by 1990: There are 600 cars on the lot, but only one customer.)

(photo by David Liu)

Today, the Trabi has become a collector’s item, evoking nostalgia for former residents of the DDR and foreigners alike.

Around 200 Trabis are on American roads, the Wall Street Journal estimated in an article last year. (photo by David Liu)

The Trabi Museum in Berlin — just down the road from the Checkpoint Charlie Museum on the former site of the border crossing between East Germany and West Germany — has a number of cars on display from various years of production. (photo by David Liu)

The Trabi museum describes the development of the vehicle and its two-stroke engine. Many of the cars were missing brake lights or turn signals. (photo by David Liu)

Painted Trabis are available for rentals at Trabi World near the museum. The cost of driving one on a set tour ranges from 34 euros to 89 euros per person, depending on the tour and size of the group.

Trabant model cars range from 4.95 euros to 47.95 for the camper version online.

The Leipzig Zoo by Ng Man Kit Harry

One of the oldest zoos in Europe, the Leipzig Zoo is 67-acres and houses approximately 850 different species in six themed areas. The zoo has survived two world wars and is eight times bigger than when it opened in 1878.

An endangered Siberian tiger roams the zoo’s “Tiger Taiga.” The zoo has housed more than 350 Amur tigers since 1957.

The zoo director says that by the end of this year, the zoo will no longer have cages. (photo by Ng Man Kit Harry)

Visitor Heun and his son look for a disguised green lizard known as the Asian water dragon in the terrarium that was built in 1912.

In 2011, the zoo had more than 2 million visitors. (photo by Ng Man Kit Harry)

The Leipzig Zoo imported four elephants from Vietnam in the 1980s.

Involved in conservation breeding programs for more than 75 animal species, the zoo recently had to put down a sick week-old Asian-elephant calf. (photo by Ng Man Kit Harry)

Stefan, a visitor to the zoo, feeds the ducks bread. Feeding animals at the zoo is prohibited.

Animals at the zoo consume 210,000 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a year. (photo by Ng Man Kit Harry)

The Mendelssohn House by Steven Wang

The Mendelssohn House, about 2 kilometers southeast of the Bach Museum and St Thomas Church, holds regular concerts of Mendelssohn’s music as well as by other composers, such as Mozart and Beethoven.

It was a 20-year-old Mendelssohn who revived the name Bach and brought his music to concert halls when he conducted Bach’s St Matthew Passion in Berlin in 1829. This was the first time Bach’s work had been successfully performed to the public for 100 years. (photo by Steven Wang)


Compared to the Bach Museum, the Mendelssohn House is smaller and less visited by tourists. “Mendelssohn might be not as famous as Bach, but his music is no less great,” says Jochen Jacobi, a university student from Hamburg. (photo by Steven Wang)

Mendelssohn developed the modern symphonic orchestra system when he was conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, now a world-class orchestra, and founded the first musical school in Germany: the Leipzig Conservatory. (photo by Steven Wang)

“Without Mendelssohn, Leipzig wouldn’t be the music city it is now,” says Christiane Schmidt, the Concert Department Director of the Mendelssohn House. “Mendelssohn brought Bach’s music back to us.” (photo by Steven Wang)