Protesting pensioners squat seniors' club
Published: 02 Jul 2012 09:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Jul 2012 09:18 GMT+02:00
Around 50 senior citizens, the oldest of whom is 89, are occupying their local social club in the Berlin district of Pankow after authorities said they were going to close the building - which used to belong to the head of the Stasi.
The squatters, aged between 65 and 89, have been camping out in the villa since Friday in protest at local district council plans to shut it down. Neighbours have been bringing them food parcels to keep them going.
But councillor Jens-Holger Kirchner said the district authorities had no option but to shut the building down. "The building does not have disabled access, and it would cost €1.5 million to renovate it. We don't have that money," he said.
The state-owned building is now to be sold, and the pensioners have been told the clubs and courses on offer there will be moved to other public buildings, like local kindergartens.
"For us it's all about the community," said 71-year-old Peter Klotsche, who is sleeping in a camp-bed in the bridge room.
"My grandchildren are really proud of their granddad!" 74-year-old Herrman Hering told the Bild newspaper.
None of the protesters have ever occupied a building before, and they have called in a lawyer to discuss their options.
The villa where the social club is housed used to belong to Erich Mielke, Minister of State Security in communist East Germany from 1957 and 1989 - a position that made him head of the infamous Stasi secret police.