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EMW – East Germany’s BMW Copy

Have you heard of EMW? Did not think so. EMW was East Germany’s answer to BMW and was identical in several ways. The reason was a World War and a Europe divided into the East and West.

In the city of Eisenach in Thuringia, there has long been a car industry. In 1928, BMW seized the factory, which previously manufactured the Dixi car brand and war equipment during the First World War.

Prominent BMW models

The factory was soon re-named to “BMW factory Eisenach”. The focus was on six-cylinder cars. Known models manufactured in Eisenach include BMW 303, 315, 319, 321 and the 328 sports car.

In 1942, the production of civil vehicles stopped for the benefit of motorcycles and aircrafts for the German military.

The Soviet gets a complete BMW factory

After the war, Eisenach and the state of Thuringia came under Soviet rule. The factory was renamed to Soviet AG Maschinenbau Awtowelo, Work BMW Eisenach. The production of BMW 321 was resumed and 4000 copies were manufactured for five years.

That BMW in Munich really owned the brand did not Soviet care about. Trademark disputes were not common between the Communist East and the capitalist West. It simply did not work.

The East German BMW factory also developed new models. It was hard for the “real” BMW because their production had not yet started after the war. In fact, all BMWs manufactured in 1945-1951 are Soviet-made.

EMW arises

In 1952, the factory and the company were formally handed over to the East German state, GDR. They changed the name to EMW – Eisenacher Motorenwerk. The BMW logo got red instead of blue squares.

EMW-Emplem-auf-radkappe.jpg
Av Harald Spiegel – Eget arbete, Public Domain, Länk

In 1953, about a year after the start of EMW, they renamed it again. The new name was VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach (VAE). The focus was changed to “public cars” of simpler construction. The three-cylinder IFA309 was basically based on a prototype of DKW F9 from 1939. The model was manufactured in more than 40,000 copies.

Wartburg

In 1956, the production of IFA 309 stopped and was replaced with a brand new car brand. They wanted to prove that East Germany could actually construct their own cars. The Wartburg car brand was launched with a newly developed body, but the engines were largely the same as the IFA.

In 1988 got the model a modern four-cylinder engine.

The factory is shut down

EMW, UAE or whatever you want to call it did not meet Germany’s reunion. The old car models could not compete with modern vehicles from western Germany. The factory was closed.

In 1992, Opel started a factory in Eisenach. This meant that many of the industrial workers who became unemployed at the reunification of Germany now could work with car manufacturing again. The Opel factory in Eisenach of today has 1,360 employees.

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