This Friday, thousands of police will shut down an entire neighbourhood in Friedrichshain to evict one of Berlin’s last squats, a progressive space that’s been there for 30 years.
Will a civil war break out in Berlin? That’s what the weekly magazine Der Spiegel thinks: they published a long article about “Krieg im Kiez” (war in the neighbourhood). That’s also what the Berlin Polizei thinks. They have not only gathered 2,500 of their own officers for an operation on Friday, but have also asked for 19 additional hundred-person police companies to be brought in from other parts of Germany. Heavily armed SWAT teams, known as Sondereinsatzkommandos, or SEKs, are on call as well.
This will be the biggest police operation that Berlin has seen for years — and for what? Has the Islamic State set up camp in the middle of Friedrichshain?
This is all for Liebig34, an occupied house in the Liebigstraße 34 in the Nordkiez in Friedrichshain. It’s right around the corner from the other big radical left squat, the Rigaer 94.
The Liebig34 has been occupied for more than 30 years and offers a space for FLINT*, a German abbreviation for women, lesbians, intersex, non-binary, and trans* people.
On Friday at 7am, a bailiff is going to attempt to carry out an eviction order. For this, the police will shut down a number of streets and suspend basic democratic rights from Thursday at 5am to Sunday at 1am. A primary school and half a dozen daycare centres are going to be shut down.
This is all for Gijora Padovicz, one of the biggest realty speculators in Berlin. This “realty king” has specialised in buying old buildings and forcing out the people living there — he might sue them, or a pipe might break and not get repaired, or maybe an ATM will pop up in the entrance. Once a house is emptied, it can be “modernised” and sold as condominiums — oligarchs the world over need places to park their money, after all. If you google Padovicz’s name, the first thing you will find is a Padovicz Watchblog run by angry tenants.
Right around the corner from the Liebig34, actually, is a building in the Wiedenweg 63, which belongs to Padovicz and has stood empty for years. The city is spending millions to evict the Liebig34 — so the house can stand empty for speculative purposes.
Who is responsible for this? Certainly not the government of Berlin!
Responding to a question in parliament about whether the police would evict the Liebig34, the Senate responded: “Im Rahmen der Amtshilfe trägt die ersuchende Behörde gegenüber der ersuchten Behörde die Verantwortung für die Rechtmäßigkeit der zu treffenden Maßnahme einschließlich der Frage einer etwaigen Aufschiebung der Vollstreckung. Diese Prüfung liegt allein in der Verantwortung des zuständigen Gerichtsvollziehers.”
I don’t even know how to translate that. It’s written in the talmudic language of the German bureaucracy, known as Behördendeutsch. But what they’re saying is: we, as the government, have nothing to do with this!
This is pretty typical for Berlin’s “left-wing” government of SPD, Greens and Die LINKE. When the police evicted the anarchist bar Syndikat back in August, members of the Green Party and the Left Party criticised the “arbitrary police violence” — as if someone else were in charge of the Berlin police. Maybe these parties are saying that the police don’t listen to the government anyway — but if that’s the case, why do they so desperately want ministerial posts?
On Friday, we are likely to see the same cynical spectacle: government parties will put out press releases condemning the actions of their own police. And then they will return to business as usual — which will include the next eviction and the next hypocritical press release. “Red-red-green” will get well-deserved applause from the CDU and the AfD for implementing “law and order.”
But what kind of “law” is this? What kind of “order”? Working people in Berlin are supposed to pay for this gargantuan army to kick people out of their homes? So a millionaire can have it stand empty? Let us, for a second, imagine a law that protected renters from rapacious speculators, and an order that guaranteed housing as a human right.
This is the same police, let’s not forget, who continuously claim that they just have too few resources to stop the Nazi terrorists in Neukölln. As the antifascist research platform recherche030 has pointed out, the very same officer from the State Criminal Police (LKA) who was seen meeting the Nazi Sebastian T. in a bar in Neukölln, has been involved in police harassment of the Rigaer94. And as the people from the Rigaer94 remind us, the same public prosecutor who was removed from the case against the Nazi terrorists because one of the suspects gathered that this official say he was an AfD supporter, has been involved in countless cases against the squats.
This police apparatus, which appears to be filled with Nazis, is directing all its energy against left-wing infrastructure in the city. The people from the Liebig34 have announced that they want “chaos instead of an eviction.” As a person on the spectrum, I don’t do well with chaos — I have trouble with loud noises and changes to my routines.
But for me, the worst kind of chaos is when police throw people out of their homes. Property damage by a few left-wingers is nothing in comparison to overwhelming state violence. Any inconvenience we see on Friday is squarely in the responsibility of the government.
There is already a kind of “war” going on — a war of realty speculators against the population in Berlin. The only way to win this war is to expropriate the financial aristocracy that controls our living space.