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Witness Gentrification

Peter Woelck is dead

The Case of Berlin photographer Peter Woelck

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Greetings from East Berlin, watching the symbolic tumbling dices at the night of celebrating 20 years fall of the Berlin Wall, I would like to tell you something about gentrification in Berlin. We have an actual case which you might find interesting, of a quite prominent photographer from former GDR who lives in Prenzlauer Berg since almost 25 years, Peter Woelck

Peter Woelck moved into Kastanienallee 36a in 1984. He still holds a lease contract of former GDR, the rental is low, he lives as a pauper. The house where he lives is located at the corner Schwedter Strasse/ Kastanienallee. He is reknown as a photographer who has an eye for the working class people of former GDR. He is integral part of this kiez Prenzlauer Berg, part of the so called creative and artistic community which people from outside find so attractive.

Now the new owners of the house in which he lives and works since many years want to get rid of him, push him to move out by presenting specious pleaded reasons for the cancellation of his leave agreement at the court. They call it “Verwertungskuendigung” which means that the interest of the owner to get the most profit out of his real estate prevails the needs of the individual who is expelled out of the place where he is enrooted. They do not care about the individual fate.

Some people say that the ones complaining of gentrification are gentrifier themselves ※ this is an argument raised by investors to justify what they are doing!
It is true that Prenzlauer Berg was always an area where many people moved in and out, actually only 17% of the population from 1989 is still living in this area (see Bernd Holtfreter’s essay in Annette Gröschner’s “Durchgangszimmer Prenzlauer Berg”). However this is a normal process, of course this area are has seen various waves of gentrification and as a result breathes this multikulti feeling which makes it so worth living.
Whereas the Marthashof project has another impact: an entire new population of some better earning 500 people living there soon is implemented, this is what we call a gentrification tsunami which will affect our lifes through increased prices, rents and quickly changing demography.
And this is not the only project of this dimension, we are also very concerned about plans for 9 level houses along Bernauer Strasse or townhouses in the Mauerpark.

We defy, and manifest our disappreciation on against the plans of the investors to destroy the Mauerpark by building up another series of townhouses: Against new walls!

Tagesspiegel 15.07.09: Die Wut des Fotografen-Dinos

Peter Woelck a reknown photographer of former GDR who lives in Prenzlauer Berg since 1989, is pushed to move out from his apartment by the new owners who plan to reconstruct and sell the flats in the house where he lives since many years. He defies and fights for his right to stay, the next hearing will be soon.
In July 2009, he wrote the below letter to us/ AIM. Please write your opinion to marthashof@googlemail.com about this case which is one promiment example of many others in this ongoing gentrification process in Berlin.

Hello,
the house kastanienallee 36a, 10435 is being reconstructed too.
all renters out, house will be ramped up by one level, each level with a 100 sqm apartment which will be fitted according to buyer’s preferences.
all renters, except the ones on the ground floor, have already moved out.

I have a lease contract which dates from 1984 for a
two-room flat with a chamber, toilet and kitchen
which is located on the ground floor.
(if you stand in front of the house, to the left, 2 windows where I show my photos)
on the right side there is a small fashion shop which of course is pushed to move out as well.

now all depends on me: if I refuse to move out the construction measures planned by the new owner will be delayed.

the newspaper “tagesspiegel” has reported about my case, see link.

now some people come to see me who have read this article, and express their condolences.

one was from a radio station who gave me the hint that I should tell you/ AIM about this.
he said that you had as yet the most experience what to do against such a project.

another artist, from wedding district, wrote to me
and offered me his help. he only did not know how he could help me ...

I wrote to him:

many thanks for your acclamation and your offer to help.

so, how can we fight against it?

open the case as much as possible to the public !!!

attached I am sending you the article from tagesspiegel.

please pass it along to pass along to friends and well-known ... or print a few copies and distribute ...

as many as possible people should express their indignation at this and write to me
or come straight to the hearing!

I collect written statements, and then submit them to the court.

furthermore I am sending you a slightly older report about me in the FAZ. it is very well written and the reader learns more about me.

yes, and so it is
there is the owner who wants to draw maximum profit out of his house,
which means to me as a renter and artist, but yes also to the
public,
totally uninteresting!
for me it means something like abandon my life!
In an accomodation for paupers there will be no more darkroom, where you can comfortably zoom up 50x60 baryts,
and there will be not enough space for a closet to store my photos ...
(according to the slogan: what do you want with this as a pauper ... “you better go and pick up paper from the streets in the morning at 7 clock, with this you have enough
to do ...«)

but yes, I might win the first instance,
finally, all arguments to terminate my lease contract are nonsense,
there is no photostudio here, therefore, certainly not a commercial one!

Finally, a pdf, the poster for my exhibition,
vernissage on 04.08.09, 19 clock, in the oderbergerstr. 15;
in “entweder-oder”.
forward, print, eg. as a postcard or similar, and distribute ...

I hope you well receive this email with all the 7 attachments ...
please mail back ...

have a nice evening

I wish

regards

peter w.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Gentrification of East Berlin

...One famous such neglected outpost in P’Berg is this squat, with an anarchist bookstore next door. A large sign on the façade reads, “Kapitalismus normiert, zerstört, tötet” (“Capitalism homogenizes, destroys, kills”), and there are many similar smaller signs of protest...

Time.com, Feb. 25, 2009

POSTCARD FROM BERLIN By STEPHANIE KIRCHNER / BERLIN

In Berlin, a Gentrifying Neighborhood Under Siege

...Seems like Berlin has to brace itself for a long battle...Stefanel-Stoffel is surprised by the disapproval that her project has sparked among some of the neighborhood's residents...

Save the date

From: Anselm Weidner

The grass grows on the death strip, the once hermetic boundary between the power blocs in the center of Berlin has healed. A new has emerged, at first sight, invisible, and it deepens from day to day. The new frontier in Bernauer Strasse could illustrate that it is not politics who imposed ideological barriers dividing people and nations, but the economy by the class boundaries.

 

Monocle, 3 AUG 2010: Neighbourhood gentrification ※ Berlin, Writer: Markus Albers

Time.com, Feb. 25, 2009

POSTCARD FROM BERLIN
By STEPHANIE KIRCHNER/ BERLIN

In Berlin, a Gentrifying Neighborhood Under Siege

...Seems like Berlin has to brace itself for a long battle...Stefanel-Stoffel is surprised by the disapproval that her project has sparked among some of the neighborhood's residents...
NEWS

Berlin is a divided city: not a city divided between capitalists and communists, but instead a city divided between bohemians and yuppies. When the Berlin Wall fell, the eastern half of the city emptied out, and property was generally cheap. Artists, slackers, anarchists, and other bohemians filled in the void, and made the once-dreary east an increasingly area to live. And as everyone knows, once the starving artists make a neighborhood desirable, yuppies swoop in to buy property.

Exberliner Magazine
Published: 22 Dec 08

Is Berlin's real estate party over?

Joe Morgan has a look at the situation for Exberliner Magazine.

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