It’s like a confrontation: On Friday, the Berlin police want to evacuate one of the last houses occupied in the capital after the fall of the Berlin Wall. How much violence should you fear?
Among the many stories from the fall times, there is one story that was not mentioned during the festivities on Saturday. It takes place in Berlin, more precisely in the north of Friedrichshain, an old working-class district that is very popular today. There are two houses where time has passed. They still look like East Berlin, scarred, yellowed, damaged. One house has the address Rigaer Straße 94, the other is opposite it, Liebigstraße 34.
Both houses are celebrities in Berlin. Both are political issues. Both houses are occupied and barricaded. Both are home to people who consider themselves anarchists, but for whom violence is now part of a self-determined life. It may be a coincidence that larger cars burn down in the area on a regular basis, but that does not have to be the case.
Illegals live in the houses
Now the clock in front of the house at 34 Liebigstrasse is ticking. It has to be left on Friday at 7 am. One can only be concerned. When thirteen squatted houses on Mainzer Strasse were evacuated years ago, street fighting raged for days between 500 autonomous and 3,000 police officers. Barricades could well catch fire and helicopters circle.
Police evacuation of occupied houses on Mainzer Strasse in Berlin. Then there were street fights. (Source: Peter Homann / Image Images)
Nobody knows how many people live in the houses. Illegals are among them, says the scene itself, without saying who and what is meant by that. They sprayed “Gentri fucks you all” on the facade, next to it it says “Kill BND-Cops Now”. The blog of the “anarcha-queer-feminist house project” has this sentence: “We shit on the state and its hypocritical rules of the game. BRD – bull state – we have plenty of you to throw up.”
Berlin is a big city, a magnet for all kinds of people who want to live here for different reasons. When the wall was still there, West Berlin was cheap, houses were empty and could be occupied. The generation of squatters from that time is retiring.
Today’s generation prefers to be in the east. These include left-wing romantics and anarchy lovers who dream of a self-determined life. If they can, they can. Large cities also sometimes have to be reluctantly tolerant. The Hafenstrasse in Hamburg was one such experiment that generally went smoothly.
Nearby Edeka Market: If protests are planned, it will be closed. (Source: Pacific Press Agency / Image Images)
The neighborhood is suffering from the occupiers
When the GDR imploded, rows of houses in East Berlin were occupied: by students, artists, creatives, anarchists. Over time, disputes often ended with leases, legalizing the appeals. In Liebigstrasse 34, residents even tried to buy the house from a community of heirs in 2008, but the contract was awarded to a real estate agent named Gijora Padovicz. After all, the parties have signed a ten-year commercial lease.
The contract expired two years ago. The tenants have stopped paying, but have not moved. From that moment on, the experiment finally entered the violent phase.
Two houses are not many. But they can annoy, intimidate, and drive away those around them. A number of new apartment blocks have now been built on Liebigstrasse, light, very beautiful. At most middle class live here, certainly not capitalists. The owners vote for the Greens and the Left; one of the keepers was also a squatter himself. But the militant scene sees them as bailiffs of the system, so they bombard the windows with steel bullets, pelt them with cobblestones and spray the walls with hateful slogans.
Chaos is their favorite term and since chaos is synonymous with darkness, they recently ripped the cables from the lanterns, creating the darkness in which to build barricades and light a fire for the two houses.
Berlin is not only a big metropolis, Berlin is also a metropolis of great sobriety. The house on Liebigstrasse belongs to the district of Kreuzberg / Friedrichshain. It has a green mayor and an alderman for green building who for political reasons is refraining from taking measures against the occupied houses. Four months ago, the district assembly passed a resolution against the expulsion by a majority of the Greens and the left, because it created “a unique shelter for women and lesbians without discriminating patriarchal structures”.
Pretty cynical, pretty unreal
Serious? Pretty cynical. Pretty unrealistic. The people on Liebigstrasse consider them their protégés, regardless of whether they discriminate against others, no matter how much violence they engage in. And so these politicians are shedding all responsibility, showing solidarity, and will likely plead others guilty for Friday’s excesses, if there are any: the police, the courts, the senate – most importantly, they are smart.
Brief digression: What would be going on in Berlin if black-white-red flags hung from the windows in Liebigstrasse and militant rights claimed the street for themselves, built barricades and fired steel bullets?
Rightly so, the real ghost would end as soon as possible. And the left-wing experiment in Liebigstrasse, which got completely out of hand, was rightly ended on Friday.