The Reichsbahn designated a series of multiple units designed for urban express services as ET 25. Initially they had consecutive numbers from elT 1801 onwards. Their procurement began in 1935 in parallel with other multiple units designed for different speeds. One power car and one control car were provided for each set, with the transformer and other equipment only being in the power car, but the outer bogie was powered in both parts. The power was provided by two nose-suspended motor per bogie, each with an hourly output of 230 kW. With a maximum speed of 120 km/h, they were below the express multiple units, but were fast enough to offer efficient connections between cities further apart.
A modified variant was made up of one set that was converted by a private operator after the war for use on the Höllentalbahn. The grid there was based on 20.000 Volts alternating current at 50 Hertz in order to be able to use the frequency of the national electricity grid. In addition to a total output increased to 1,540 kW and a top speed reduced to 90 km/h, this vehicle also had a dynamic brake and a magnetic rail brake. It was finally used by the Bundesbahn as the ET 255 and restored to its original version in 1962.
Most of the 39 units built were also operated by the Bundesbahn at this time. They had been modernized together with other, similar types and some intermediate cars were created from defective motor cars and control cars. The original round shape of the front ends was replaced by a new, more angular one with slightly slanted windows, as was also seen on other vehicles. They were renamed class 425 in 1968 and were used until 1985. On the territory occupied by the Soviet Union, all roadworthy multiple units had to be handed over to the Soviet Union immediately after the end of the war. The only ones left were two motor cars and a control car, from which a three-part set was restored. This one-off was renamed the class 285 in 1970 and was retired two years later. It remained in Wurzen station for another 20 years, until the scrapping was finally tackled.