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It was a reaction to the refusal of the West German singer's wish to perform a concert in East Germany by the East German administration in charge. The text of this approximately three minutes long song appeals ironically directly to East German leader Erich Honecker. The melody is based on the 1941 swing classic "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller. With regard to the Berlin borough Pankow, the title is based on the fact that Schloss Schönhausen situated there was the seat of the president from 1949 until 1960 and was later seat of the State Council of the German Democratic Republic until 1964. After that, many members of the East German government and high employees of the other administration departments of the government lived in Pankow, for example on the Majakowskiring.
This song was in the West German music charts from 19 March 1983 to 6 May 1983 for seven weeks, spending four weeks at number five. The reaction to the song led to the first and only concert of Udo Lindenberg in East Germany on 25 October 1983. This concert took place during the festival "Rock für den Frieden" (Rock for Peace) in Berlin's Palast der Republik, but Udo Lindenberg was not allowed to sing this song then. A planned tour through East Germany in the following year was cancelled. "Sonderzug nach Pankow" became a cult song in East Germany and is one of Udo Lindenberg's most famous songs.