Good fortune let me be an innocent child during World War II, a hopeful adolescent with encouraging parents during the years of German recovery, and a self-determined adult in a period of peace, freedom, and wealth. My luck continued as a scientist who could entirely follow his fancy. My mind was always set on understanding how things are made. At a certain point, I found myself confronted with the question of how mitochondria and organelles, which cannot be formed de novo, are put together. Intracellular transport of proteins, their translocation across the mitochondrial membranes, and their folding and assembly were the processes that fascinated me. Now, after some 30 years, we have wonderful insights, unimagined views of a complex and at the same time simple machinery and its workings. We have glimpses of how orderly processes are established in the cell to assemble from single molecules our beautiful mitochondria that every day make some 50 kg of ATP for each of us. At the same time, we have learned amazing lessons from the tinkering of evolution that developed mitochondria from bacteria.


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