Podcast #5: Protests in Berlin

This month’s podcast is about protests in Berlin.

5. Protests in Berlin

Podcast Summary:

Berlin is a city of protests. Not a weekend goes by when there isn’t some kind of demonstration against something or other, especially in the spring and summer when the weather’s nice and warm, and perfect for a good old-fashioned march down the street whilst chanting and swinging banners. For this podcast, we picked three protests, which we feel encapsulate the feeling and current atmosphere in Berlin.

First, we headed to Tacheles, a well known artist house in Mitte. The building has gone through many incarnations. It was once a commercial center, then a prisoner-of-war camp, then it was left to decay during the period of Germany’s division, and since the fall of the wall, has been taken over by artists who have used the space as a series of studios. The building is very well known, both nationally and internationally, by both tourists and artists. The protests surrounding Tacheles are connected to gentrification and the city’s lack of support for artists and squatters’ rights. Plans are in the works to kick the artists out, and turn the building back into a commercial center. If this happens, the only thing that will remain is the name, everything else will be gone. We spoke with the spokesperson for Tacheles, Linda Cerna about the future of Tacheles, and current campaigns (such as a letter-writing and the “I Support Tacheles” projects) to save the building. We also spoke with the Belarusian artist Alexander Rodin, whose paintings were recently confiscated and allegedly destroyed by hired security guards who forced their way into his studio and kicked him out of his own space for six months. During this time, he had no access to his paintings, paints, sketchbooks etc… He says that some of his works of art were urinated on.

Second, we attended Berlin’s famous annual May Day festival/protest in Kreuzberg. May Day, which takes place on May 1st every year is also known as International Workers’ Day. The protest started back in the 1880’s with workers fighting for an eight hour work day. Rosa Luxemburg, one of Berlin’s famous left- wing activists, famously said about May 1st, “As long as the struggle of the workers against the bourgeoisie and the ruling class continues, as long as all demands are not met, May Day will be the yearly expression of these demands.” We spent the day wandering Kreuzberg, bopping our heads along to the music, and spoke with a few protesters about why they were there, and why they think it’s important to take part in the protests despite the cheerful festival feeling.

Günther Brettschneider

Finally, we headed along to an Anti-Nazi protest in Neukölln/Rudow. We spoke with Kate Davison, an Australian and a member of Die Linke. She told us her opinion on why Anti-Nazi protests are important, and why people should attend them. She also spoke about the arrival new right-wing populist parties in Germany. We spoke with Günther Brettschneider, a German who has been living in Neukölln for 30 years and who has spent much of his life protesting against the NPD (National Partei Deutschland) and far right parties. He believes that the NPD should be banned. He is a member of the Marxistisch – Leninistische Partei Deutschland (Marxist-Leninist Party Germany), and feels as though Nazi groups have been targeting leftist parties like his, and have been for years.

We learned a lot, walked a lot, and talked to some interesting people. Keep on protesting!

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