Berlin at War

Roma beggar. Berlin, November 2014.

Kein mensch ist illegal. Refugees welcome here. Few cities can claim as much pro-asylum messaging as that found in Berlin. Spray-painted on the sides of buildings, stickered inside public restrooms. It’s absolutely everywhere. Considering the diverse character of the city, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The German capital is as much a global metropolis as it is a national one. The main reason why artists and digerati have flocked there is because migrant workers from Turkey and southern Europe showed them the way. It’s the ultimate home away from home, for everyone, or so it appears.

That’s not to say that Berlin is utopia. It’s definitely not. Wages are low, and unemployment in most sectors remains high. Housing is increasingly scarce and expensive, particularly in the city’s central neighborhoods, famous for their enormous apartments, and  ethnic eateries. Litter and dog shit is everywhere, adding a particularly harsh underbelly to Berlin’s sexy, cosmopolitan allure.  It’s not exactly London, or Paris yet, in terms of cost, but that’s the direction the city is headed, yet without the economy that underlies its competitors exclusivity. That’s what makes the warmth, exuded by Berlin’s left, so poignant.

The following flyer translations imagine a more humane, welcoming Berlin, that welcomes all, and is decidedly democratic. If the militant tone of the first is hard to understand, particularly considering how multiethnic Germany has become in recent years, the second flyer, about an NPD event being held in the borough of Neukölln, helps explain it. The National Democratic Party are neofascists – ‘legal Nazis’, as they are often referred to, far to the right of France’s National Front, and Britain’s UKIP. Their politics are the polar opposite of what Berlin embodies, as a post-Cold War city. Think of them as a German Golden Dawn.

In the NPD’s ideal capital, migrants, such as the Roma panhandler in the lead photograph, would have no place. Gentrification might not be ideologically in sync with its xenophobia, but its results help usher in a version of Germany that is a lot closer to its national imaginary. Hence the proliferation of flyers like these, and their political complexity.

Kreuzberg. March 2013.
Kreuzberg. March 2013.

Brandenburg and Berlin’s refugees are on strike!
We take our power back

We; asylum seekers, refugees, migrants, and activists; join in the protest movements of asylum seekers all over Germany; we prefer to stay in the street till we get all our rights and demands. We will not go back to the camps.

The current wave of protests started in Würzburg on March 2012, when a group of asylum seekers started a hunger strike in reaction to the tragic suicide of an asylum seeker in the Würzburg camp earlier that month. The suicide was due to the inhuman living conditions at the camp and the years of awaiting a decision on his case. Würzburg’s group demands asylum seekers rights to be implemented and respected, and asylum seekers from different camps in Germany have joined their protest, as well as numerous activists in solidarity.

The struggle is one for us all. The demands are nothing less than fundamental human rights, which Germany violates:

  • Stop deportation: (Every deportation is a crime against humanity)
  • Close all asylum-camps: We all have the right to choose where and under which conditions we want to live
  • We demand our freedom of movement: Abolish the residenzpflicht (restriction on movement) everywhere
  • Stop the machinery of control and degradation:Food Packages / vouchers (Gutscheine) instead of money /
Prohibition to work /

Europe has launched a war against migration, in which Germany plays a central role. Murderous policies are being enforced by Europe’s “security” forces, both on the borders and within the European Countries; hundreds die every day on the doors of ‘Fortress Europe’ as a result of operations conducted by Frontex (joint border Police of all European countries).

Every migration story has its own particular narrative and circumstances, yet we all face the same persecutor; the same forces who enclose us in inhuman conditions and steal our rights.

We must stand together in solidarity.
(Resist the machinery of suppression)
We have to take our (stolen) rights and our power back!

We call upon all Asylum seekers and supporters of this struggle to join our protest. Come to our tent, tell your friends!


Karawane Netzwerk:

The Voice – Refugee Forum:


Neukölln. July 2013.
Neukölln. July 2013.


Go forth! Oppose it! Block it!

The NPD is planning an event in Neukölln, again.

They have already seized most spaces in Rudow or Britz a while back, but the right-wing extremists now have their eyes on Nord-Neukölln for Saturday, 13 July. The district office confirmed the space allocation.

The right-wing extremists will be allowed to use the 12 x 18 meter sports hall on the edge of a public soccer field on Innstraße 11.

The district cannot do much in response to opposition. The NPD has the right to request the use of district rooms for events.

Although the NPD were only approved the use of the hall, the space in front of the building will be inaccessible “for security reasons” from as early as 10 July. Where else can young people of all nationalities play football together? The pitch will remain empty for four days. The sports facility was officially opened by District Mayor Heinz Buschkowsky just last year after an €800,000 revamp.

The neo-Nazis have been welcomed by hundreds of demonstrators at previous NPD meetings in Neukölln. The last time this happened was last February in Rudow. Only 50 NPD supporters turned up, including the odd member of the so-called “Reich citizens’ movement”. They could not stop the same amount of protesters from entering the auditorium. The result was a riot. Citizen movements and Antifa groups have already announced protests for 13 July.


Translated from the German by Kit Rickard. Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.

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