Tourist requests lead to symbolic Trabant on legs being moved forward in German Embassy garden

David Cerny, photo: CTK

It took half a dozen men around half an hour to pull a large sculpture around 15 metres forward in the garden of the German Embassy in Prague's Mala Strana on Wednesday. The David Cerny sculpture - a bronze Trabant car on legs - has been in the stately garden since 2001, and is mentioned in many tourist guides. So why was it being moved? That's a question I put to the German ambassador to Prague, Helmut Elfenkamper.

"The sculpture has been standing between these two big trees here for the last couple of years. And with the hedges growing around, we got letters from tourists, mainly from Germany, who said, you have this monument mentioned in virtually every German tourist guide - so we want to see it.

"In fact I think it is the second most important...piece here, in this premises, after the Embassy building itself. We want to have it in a visible place so that those who can't come into the grounds can see it from the fence.

David Cerny,  photo: CTK
"Because many tourists go around the premises...and I sometimes ask myself, do they want to see the Trabi or the Embassy?...I think it's the Trabi that they want to see. And they'll get to see it now."

What's the significance of this Trabant on legs here in the beautiful garden of the German Embassy in Prague?

"In the late summer and early fall of 1989, when the movement of Germans from the GDR started into different German embassies in central and Eastern Europe, the group here was the biggest one - it grew to 4,000 people at the end of September '89, until they could freely travel to West Germany, after the then minister Genscher had negotiated their exit into West Germany.

"And many, many of these cars were left behind by our fellow countrymen. And it symbolises this move, which was the beginning of the end of the communism in Europe."

Photo: CTK
Also this garden I suppose is famous for housing a lot of Germans who were on their way west in the late summer of '89.

"Yes, they were living in tents here. Out of the 4,000, 3,000 were in the garden and the others were just crammed into the building - on the stairs, in the rooms, in the salons, which had to be renovated afterwards.

"We actually reconstructed this in a film which is coming out this year. It will show to a larger, younger public who do not remember from their own experience what it all was, what happened in this famous year of '89."