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Free artists evicted from Berlin city centre icon

The Local · 4 Sep 2012, 11:30

Published: 04 Sep 2012 11:30 GMT+02:00

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Martin Reiter, head of the Tacheles organisers, called the eviction from the graffiti covered building on Friedrichstrasse in Berlin's Mitte district “art theft”. The building has attracted tourists and party-goers as well as art-lovers for decades.

Reiter told The Local, “I feel really sad and angry. The mayor of Berlin should resign immediately. Berlin has lost a really famous landmark today."

He said the group would move to the Neukölln district.

“The spine of the organisers and artists will remain intact and we will accept an offer of asylum at the Cube Club... It is very important that the whole group can stay together and retain the Tacheles ethos and climate," Reiter said.

A symbol of the city's once-vibrant alternative scene, Kunsthaus Tacheles (Art House Tacheles) has long been a must-see for tourists visiting the German capital.

Built in 1909 as a shopping mall, the structure was later used by the firm AEG, the Nazi Party and the Free German Trade Union Federation.

In February 1990, shortly after German reunification, artists moved into the crumbling building, which was in severe disrepair and slated for demolition.

They installed galleries and performance spaces into its maze-like passageways, along with a cinema, a nightclub and a café.

In 1998, the building was bought by a subsidiary of the Fundus group, which worked out a ten year rental agreement with residents for the symbolic sum of one Deutschmark, and then 50 euro cents per month.

In 2008, the lease ran out. The Fundus group declared bankruptcy, and its creditor HSH Nordbank assumed ownership of the building. After years of legal wrangling between the bank and the resident artists, a court in Berlin ruled that the bank could forcibly evict them.

Politicians have said the building would continue to be used for cultural purposes. But Martin Reiter, head of the Tacheles organisers, wasn't very optimistic.

Story continues below…

"...they may try to keep it open as a culture house, and visitors will have to pay to get in and perhaps they will get to buy something too. We will be making art somewhere else.”

The Local/DPA/DAPD/sh

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:26 September 4, 2012 by ChrisRea
At last! The artists should have gone when the rightful owner asked them to.

"The mayor of Berlin should resign immediately." Really? Because the law was respected in this case?
14:44 September 4, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Pity to see this go but it always was going to go. Prime shopping real estate was never going to be left like that. However, a major attraction to the area is gone now and business around Friedrichstrasse and Oranienburger Strasse will be adversely affected.
15:20 September 4, 2012 by Suupala
Such a shame! I really loved the place. The last piece of "real" Berlin all tourists are always looking for is now gone from the geographical west side of the city center, only to be replaced with something mundane. Well the capitalist apparatus cannot be stopped, even if it's still about ten years behind other major European cities here. Going with the "business city" development strategy requires Berlin to become rich and sexy.

For those interested in the history of the location, I strongly recommend searching out for opportunities to see the brand new documentary film "Unverwüstlich".
17:46 September 4, 2012 by richardcymru
ChrisRea: F***k off you pompous arse.

Berlin fuer alles: Unfortunately you're right. When it comes to the vile Anglo American style of capitalism that is engulfing the rest of Europe people don't have a chance.

Suupala: I so agree with you. Thanks for the film recommendation.
20:08 September 4, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Suupala

There are plenty pieces of "real" Berlin in the area, even if different people would have different understandings of the term. As I live in the neighbourhood, I can show you around. Just give me a PM.

@ richardcymru

Welcome to the forum! If you would allow me a suggestion following your first post, it might be a good idea to contribute with arguments related to the issues covered in the article. Personal attacks (even if you basically say that you find the middle part of the body full of splendor) tend to lower the quality of the posting.
03:55 September 5, 2012 by Suupala
@ ChrisRea

I also live in the immediate vicinity, and I think it's still a great place to live - maybe you could post some of your tips here for the faithful readers of this forum! Still I don't think the significance of Tacheles and it's unfortunate story should be undermined. Having also lived in another nice area of this great city, Neukölln, I find it obvious yet regrettable why the artists have to seek refuge there.

By the way, the rather objective documentary I mentioned in my earlier post had some great insights on the arbitrariness of the lawmaking and other actions that led to the eviction. It also had English subtitles.
09:36 September 5, 2012 by DoubleDTown
@richardcymru: thankfully the 1970s (and 1990s) are over. Time for people to get a job.
11:30 September 5, 2012 by raandy
The Tacheles with its fire going off was a fun place to listen to a concert or just have a beer. Around the back was a nice outside bar with an entertaining crowd. I will miss the place.

The history of that building is an interesting read.

Things change ,but not always for the better, I myself have little interest in mall type shopping.

Thanks Tacheles for all those fond memories.
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