Berlin – Eastern Kreuzberg: SO 36

Berlin – Eastern Kreuzberg: SO 36

In the 1930s, Berlin's industry began to employ farmers from surrounding villages in factories and workshops. Many of them came to the small village of Kreuzberg, to work in the eastern part of the city and live for a low rent in buildings hastily assembled by speculators. Kreuzberg has become a working-class area, and later a suburb of Greater Berlin. The electronics tycoon Siemens started operating in the yard of one of the houses in Kreuzberg. In the 1930s, local trade unionists and workers waged street fights with the Nazis, during the war, this place was one of the few to avoid complete destruction, and after the war it was among the fastest restored. Everything has changed, when in 1961 The Berlin Wall was built in the year: Kreuzberg became the eastern outpost of the city, cut off from its natural hinterland in East Berlin. The population began to move out, the windows of the houses had been boarded up, and Kreuzberg's decline had begun. At the same time, the city deprived of cheap labor from East Berlin began to look for other sources of cheap labor, and thus the class of seasonal workers from other countries was born., called Gastarbeiters. Turks moved to the city en masse, over time, bringing in families and Muslim culture; few homeowners were willing to receive the newcomers, and they gradually established a community in the area, where the rents were the lowest: in Kreuzberg.

In the sixties and seventies Kreuzberg became a Turkish enclave, which also reached Gastarbeiters from Yugoslavia, Spain and Italy. Radicals also joined, students and socially maladjusted members of the generation 1968, who often went to Berlin because of that, that it was a method of avoiding military service, and in Kreuzberg there were enormous possibilities of living in the wild. In the 1980s, the "wild" tenants of Kreuzberg gained nationwide publicity and the social democratic authorities of the city pursued a favorable policy towards them, subsidizing well-organized groups of tenants and securing them to some extent against the threat of eviction. Settlements like the Mehringhof flourished (which is actually located "abroad", in West Kreuzberg), a center of alternative arts and crafts.

Everything was pink until the Christian Democrats took over power. Using arguments about municipal property - many buildings in Kreuzberg are owned by city officials - and growing crime and drug addiction, the right-wing interior minister sent special police forces to Kreuzberg, to close occupied "wild"” buildings. This sparked street riots, city-wide demonstrations and political protests, which have reached their apogee, when, during one of the demonstrations, a fifteen-year-old boy was killed under the wheels of a bus. Radical workers activists called for a strike and the city authorities were forced to step down.

So far, the matter is over. Turks and other √©migr√© communities are doing well, between "wild."” tenants and the new city authorities there is a tension-filled truce, and the smarter politicians come here, to win the favors of radical youth. For it must be said, that living in Kreuzberg is a kind of declaration.

If you want to assess the political atmosphere in Berlin, it is enough to see, what is happening on the streets of this district. During the Berlin IMF conference in 1988 In the year, authorities cordoned off Kreuzberg with the police, and even closed all U-Bahn stations there and, even weirder, there was relative peace.

However, you don't need to be interested in revolution and political machinations, to feel good in Kreuzberg. Nowhere in the city is the nightlife as lush as here, and it's nice to walk here during the day, come to one of the countless Turkish kebab snack bars, going to the cafe at nine o'clock for a breakfast consisting of vodka and beer or simply absorbing the atmosphere of this place, which looks like one of the Turkish markets moved from Istanbul to a housing estate in one of the former Eastern Bloc countries.

The best way to get to know the neighborhood is by taking the metro line # 1 (called on this episode, quite pinchingly, "Istanbul express”) to Kottbusser Tor or Schlesisches Tor station. The area around the Kottbusser Tor station is quite typical: dingy stalls, cheap cafes and the smells of southern European cuisine. Crossing Dresdener Strasse, near Turkish cinema, you come to the main Kreuzberg artery, Orianienstrasse, which to the east of Moritzplatz is full of cafebars, art galleries and clothing stores, which in a way constitutes the "alternative" Kurfurstendamm. Come to Cazzo at number 187, to get acquainted with this, what the locals call Szene - a fashionable place, where something is going on. Residential buildings dominate in the vicinity of Schlesisches Tor. If you know German, read the inscriptions on the walls, that reflect the specificity of the area: WOMEN OF GERMANY AND TURKEY JOIN AND FIGHT WITH THE JOINT ENEMY THE PATRIARCHAT, this is just one example. At night, the darkness gives both regions an atmosphere of terror and the closeness of forbidden entertainment.

The Landwehrkanal runs south of Oranienstrasse and the broad Hasenheide-Gneisenaustrasse below marks the border with western Kreuzberg. Along the Siidstern (where the U-Bahn station is located) there is another series of cafebars (the most popular is the Wunderbar opposite the station), and there are some good restaurants on the Gneisenaustrasse, but there is hardly any of the wild atmosphere of eastern Kreuzberg here anymore.