Six homegrown Ausländer speak out.
Aziza A, Berlin’s Turkish queen of hip-hop
“Here on O’straße [Oranienstraße] there used to be a lot more clubs. You really went out here. And now it’s only cafes and bars. In the past there was Sox – that’s where we were mostly. Then there was the Boogaloo. There was the Trash, but we didn’t go there – only one time, just to look. That was more hardcore. Kreuzberg’s become totally touristy lately. But it’s still not as chic and touristy as Mitte. Fortunately it still has this Kreuzberg smell, which will hopefully stay.”
Killa Hakan, ex-36Boy, ex-con, rapper
“There are a lot of people who are new here. There are the people who are some kind of social workers or start up various things, like Ballhaus. We respect them. We say, ‘fresh blood, fresh meat’. New should come; something fresh should come.
That doesn’t mean that everyone who lives here knows the history. Here before, there was not a single shop. Only we were here and a couple of punks in squatted houses and soldiers in their jeeps who drove around the Wall with their machine guns.
And I remember those days. We know what was here and we know what we have achieved. Kreuzberg is part party, part tourist and sometimes also violence. Of course many people have moved here, and they are building things and want to do new things. But at the end of the day it’s our life, our values here. Without us, Kreuzberg wouldn’t be Kreuzberg”
Monstar, Turkish rapper from the group Massakar
“Now all you see everywhere is tourists taking photos. Sometimes they even photograph us, as if we were on display at a museum. Kreuzberg has become ‘cool’ – they want to live here, and it’s driving up prices. No Turk, Arab, Hartz IV recipient will get an apartment here anymore if he doesn’t ‘know someone’.”
Deso Dogg, German-Ghanian rapper, ex-member of Kreuzberg gang 36Boys
“Kreuzberg has changed for the worse. Too many people have come here, from southern Germany, from Italy, from Spain… The rents have gone up, and a lot of people from here had to move away because they can’t pay the rent. They took over their shops and made some kinds of funny cafes. I don’t like it at all. I don’t feel at home here anymore.
Those people who show up here they think, oh, Kreuzberg is nice, multikulti, ah, I’m also a Kreuzberger. No! You’re a Kreuzberger when you were born here. When you grew up here. When you fought here. When you understand Kreuzberg. Then you’re a Kreuzberger. And not because you’ve lived here for two years or because you work here or have a shop here. That means nothing. I don’t have anything against tourists though. Tourists should come and go as they please and leave their money behind.
But when I look at the people who come here to stay; how they buy a whole building, renovate everything and then throw all the people out. You know? Friends of ours they had to move to Friedrichshain because they couldn’t get an apartment here. Because the landlord says no, we don’t want any Mr. Mohmet anymore. Or Mr. Ubenga. They’d rather have Mr. Müller or Mr. Schönblum. It’s a catastrophe here. And I’m thinking of moving myself”
Neco Celik, Turkish film-director, ex-member of 36Boys
“Back in the Wall days, busses always would come through here. Tourist busses. And we always waved at them. The punks and the anarchists threw stones and shoes. We never understood why they did that. We were in a zoo. We were the monkeys. They knew that and we didn’t.
Kreuzberg has changed slowly and subtly – not as extremely as Prenzlauer Berg or Mitte. It’s changed very healthily, actually. And in comparison with before, it’s of course much, much better. When you think that only Turkish families lived here, it’s crazy. We went to a school where there was not a single German! Before, there was no communication. With whom? We didn’t speak German!
As a kid, I used to play on the very construction site where my building is now standing. And now young students come along and make a WG. Before, they would have never dared. The picture is changing, and it’s an inspiration. It’s a very good opportunity – to inspire each other.
Tiger (die Kralle von Kreuzberg), Turkish comedian
“A tip: If you are a tourist, just cross the street on red. We all cross on red in Kreuzberg. If you don’t, people will take you for a tourist and rip you off. The other thing is, if you are a tourist and I am coming your way, always stay out of my way. Best thing is not to walk on the sidewalk at all, but to keep to the street. And one more thing: if you are a tourist, and you are walking on the sidewalk and you are coming my way, the best thing is if we meet each other, right away give me your handy and wallet. Hajde, tschüss.”