Home » This Old East German Van Brochure Sorta Feels Like A POV Of Being Pulled Into A Cult: Cold Start

This Old East German Van Brochure Sorta Feels Like A POV Of Being Pulled Into A Cult: Cold Start

Cs Barkas1
ADVERTISEMENT

The Scientologists with their weird fake-naval uniforms and the strange smugness that can only come from someone truly free of thetans never appealed to me. Same for cults that require robes or matching tracksuits and sneakers. I just can’t abide the aesthetics. But were some cult to roll up to me in a glorious yellow two-stroke Eastern Bloc van with a friendly face, I probably wouldn’t be so resistant. This whole brochure from – shockingly, 1982 – East Germany’s biggest small van/commercial vehicle maker, Barkas, feels a lot like how I’d imagine my entry into some East German cult may have gone.

First though, let’s talk a bit about these vans. These were Barkas B1000 vans, built for a really long time, from 1961 to 1988, and then, with a VW-licensed four-stroke engine, to 1990. These were front wheel-drive, a fairly progressive and forward-looking layout back in 1961, but were also backwards-looking because they used a two-stroke engine, essentially the same inline-three used by Wartburgs.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

This particular B1000 is using a 992cc engine making a ravenous 45 horsepower, but that could carry a total permissible weight of 4,500 pounds, which is pretty damn good. Plus, I really like the expressive face these things had, which looked like some sort of eager and friendly animal.

Cs Barkas 6

See, thats how they’d get me at first; I’d see this van, and approach, then perhaps notice the gaggle of people in what looks like mustard-colored velour jumpsuits and bell bottoms, somehow still going strong in 1982, and probably be at least intrigued.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cs Barkas 3

Is leather jacket-and-sunglasses over there on the right the cult leader? He seems to be. Look at that confident stance! I bet as I emerge from rolling under the van to get a look at that legendary DKW-derived powerplant, he’d put his hand firmly on my shoulder, look deeply into my eyes, and let me know that there’s always room in the Barkas for a young man like myself who wants to understand the mysteries of life and mixing two-stroke oil and gas.

Cs Barkas 2

As soon as I sit down, this is the sight I’m confronted with. Braids in the middle there locks eyes with a potent, powerful stare, and I can feel my resolve weakening. Or maybe it’s just the significant two-stroke exhaust fumes coming through the windows? Because there’s a lot of that, and I’m getting a little dizzy.

Cs Barkas 5

ADVERTISEMENT

I look over and see next to me how well strapped-in these other new recruits are. Look at that belt, all the way over the waist! That blank stare, belted, in, they’re heading for a bold new life on The Compound. And maybe I am too.

Cs Barkas 4

At least the 1982 Barkas has nice big reverse lamps. In a few months, maybe a year, the light from these will be how I plan my escape, as I let myself get backed over by the van in the mud, and then make my break when they grudgingly take me to the hospital.

But what a ride it all was! I’m glad to be out, but I have some wild memories of my time in the Twin Strokes Cult of Thuringia.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
31 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
CUlater
CUlater
25 days ago

Ok, East Germany. So my first question is why have a brochure? Wasn’t that the land of “we know what’s best for you, so we only need one model and you will like it”? I’m always confused seeing things like this and wondering why they went to the trouble of advertising. I guess there was the snowballs’ chance of selling outside of the bloc? Or was it just some kind of “see, we’re just like you all”? Just glad the conundrum exists to enjoy as a mystery… LOL.

Goblin
Goblin
25 days ago
Reply to  CUlater

Trade shows. Those existed and were a big thing.

These brochures were not meant for private clients. In most COMECOM countries private citizens couldn’t buy commercial vehicles (new) anyway. There was no private commerce, so no need for personal commercial vehicles.

This brochure was meant for a business. Factories still had to shuttle their workers sometimes in small groups, hotels had to shlep Western tourists around, etc.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
26 days ago

Erholungsheim in the group photo means convalescent home. You know how it is with communistic doublespeak: reeducation centres for the political dissenters…

Goblin
Goblin
26 days ago

Random memories…

Note for future generations: this is how misunderstandings happen. The very specific way East German ORWO color films used to render some colors ended up throwing a whole crew into psychedelic cult turf.A friend’s (much hated) teacher had one of these. Took it to a trip in the mountains, and on the way down the keys fell from the ignition and the steering wheel locked (that, or he did something wrong. Not sure what. One way or the other, the steering wheel locked while driving on a mountain road). He got out ok, his teenage daughter spent months in the hospitalIronically, the ambulance which took them could have been a Barkas as well. Or a Latvia van. Patients were slim and thin back then.

Last edited 26 days ago by Goblin
FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
26 days ago

The third photo with the adult woman and Rock Hudson really shows off the lack of arm rests. The man has finally chosen to place his left hand on his right thigh because, where else, his own head? The woman, however, in a fit of desperation, has sold her left arm on the East German black market.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
26 days ago

It’s precisely through a situation like that by which Cartman’s Mom got involved in  German scheisse movies.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
26 days ago

Next week in Tales From The Slack:

David Tracy: hey, has anyone heard from Torch recently?

Matt Hardigree: it has been a few days. Didn’t he go on an assignment in Eastern Europe with Adrian? And where’s Adrian?!?

Adrian: last I saw of him, he was talking to a group of people with lousy fashion sense standing around some old van. Their clothing colors were atrocious, I had to get to the airport, so I left. Did he not make his flight?

MH: dammit, call the deprogrammers. Torch is in a cult again. I knew I shouldn’t have sent him there after last time.

10001010
10001010
26 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

This scenario is entirely believable.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
26 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Funny how these cults let him hold on to his taillight beliefs.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
26 days ago

Oh this is just screaming for an engine swap.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
26 days ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

The only screaming is the muffled sounds of the newly “recruited” inside

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
26 days ago

“…the Twin Strokes Cult of Thuringia.”

Tempting, but I’m already a practicing Trollhättan Twostrokian, Longnose Reform Branch.

A. Barth
A. Barth
26 days ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Longnose Reform Branch?!? Die, heretic!

*pushes Mike off the bridge*

(apologies to Emo Philips)

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
26 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I didn’t realize the Bullnose Old Believers could be so touchy.

A. Barth
A. Barth
26 days ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

🙂

It’s a reference to an old Emo Philips joke, generally identified as the best religious joke ever. This isn’t really the place to reproduce it, but if you google his name and “die, heretic” you will find it easily. It’s SFW, btw.

It’s also an interesting commentary on what brings people together as well as what separates them.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
26 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Oh, I got the reference. As for anyone reading this who may be wondering about Bullnose vs. Longnose, here’s a brief recap of the War of the Noses:

https://swadeology.com/2014/04/war-noses-saab-96/

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
26 days ago

The seatbelted man looks almost exactly like my father did in 1982. It’s uncanny.

Secondly, I always felt that the Barkas was Miyazaki’s inspiration for the Cat Bus in My Neighbor Totoro. Not impossible; his first car was a 2CV.

10001010
10001010
26 days ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

Your dad was in a van cult?!?

RecoveringGTV6MaratonaOwner
RecoveringGTV6MaratonaOwner
26 days ago

The guy in the sunglasses and leather is wearing the standard issue unform of the Stasi(East German secret police). Even in an ad, he is there to keep an eye on things and to make sure they don’t make a break for it.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
27 days ago

Leather jacket is Stasi and that Barkas is undoubtedly equipped with the optional hose from the exhaust to the passenger cabin.

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
27 days ago

That guy in the brown leather jacket is Peter Fonda casting for his 1967 movie the trip

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
27 days ago

There was a wait list just to be able to buy a Trabant that was 10-12 years. How long for this van? 15? And just like those Trabants I bet these were pretty shitty.

A. Barth
A. Barth
27 days ago

And in the background there is a magnificent example of the East German architecture we all know and love.

In the shot with the reverse light, we can see how far inboard the rear tires are: look at that gap! It actually looks like the rear wheel was removed for the picture, but no.

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
27 days ago

Barkas Babes Death-Kill-Cult, ready to rock your Trabbie-loving soul for the Eastern Bloc

Schrödinger's Catbox
Schrödinger's Catbox
27 days ago

The quality of these vehicles is abysmal in terms of Western standards. Still, cheap, cheerful, clever design with full knowledge that materials acquisition – and quality – may be a very fluid thing.

Automotive engineers and those responsible for package and style never cease to amaze me. Sure, sometimes it’s in a terrible way (for example, Dodge Journey battery placement, hell, Dodge Journey in general). But how this and other utilitarian vehicles were created and built in significant numbers, using some outdated and sometimes just arcane methods and tech out of necessity, is simply impressive.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
27 days ago

Google translate tells me they are outside some kind of “rest home,” although Fichtelberg looks to be ski country, so maybe it’s a lodge? Either way, these people are being taken far from their everyday lives, as any good cult would do.

Also, that car peeking into the corner of the top shot looks so crisp and rectilinear next to the van. Although the body panels seem to have a…relaxed fit.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
27 days ago

What’s the difference between a cult and a religion?
About 100 years.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
26 days ago

Lol. Yeah, in the same vein, as the professor teaching a religious studies class I took many years ago jocularly put it:
What’s the difference between a cult and a religion?
A cult is a small unpopular religion.
A religion is a large popular cult.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
26 days ago

The poster child is Mormonism. In the late 19th century, most Americans considered Mormons to be a very strange cult, even calling them “demonic”. A century later, one almost ran for president, and then his son actually did so a few decades after.
As much as it pains me to say this, Scientology will follow that same path from “crackpot cult” to “legitimate mainstream religion”. Unless they pull a Heaven’s Gate and off themselves.

31
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x