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Hamburg, Germany: Celebrating creativity in the face of repression

alien8 | 03.11.2002 22:21

Defiance has taken over large parts of the Northern German city of Hamburg, as a local project of alternative living awaits eviction.

Hamburg, Germany: Celebrating creativity in the face of repression
Hamburg, Germany: Celebrating creativity in the face of repression

One week of action has awakened Hamburg, a city with a long history of strong autonomist movements, but with a recent lack of inspired activism. The week of action took place to protest the imminent eviction of the 'Wagenplatz' "Bambule" – one of several sites in Hamburg and other German cities where people live in lorries and trailers, most of them on beautiful green spots, as a manifestation of alternative ways of living. Many of those living on such sites are involved with local political activism such as social centres, anti-racist work etc.

The right-wing city government, elected just over a year ago, had declared the will to get rid of all 'Wagenplaetze' as soon as possible, which had already led to two violent evictions. Bambule received their eviction order for November 1st (last Friday). But this time eviction wouldn't be an easy ride. Situated in the middle of a traditionally 'alternative', yet very fashionable neighbourhood, Bambule serves as a symbol for alternative ways of life, for a counter-model to the law-and-order approach of the right-wing government, for a society based on freedom and creativity. For one week actions happened all over the city. Demonstrations took place, new sites were squatted, large buildings as well, only to be evicted soon after by massive numbers of riot police currently deployed in town. Many local people declared their solidarity with Bambule, above all the direct neighbours and the local football club St. Pauli.

Despite widespread support, there has been no illusion about the possibilities of resisting eviction. The victory of '94, when an attempted eviction of Bambule was successfully resisted, was never to be repeated against the highly-militarised police force of the 21st century.

In the midst of this hopeless situation people celebrated... On Saturday night November 2nd, several well-known party locations in Hamburg had organised a Bambule benefit night. High-profile punk and hardcore bands from all around the country played at the famous ex-squats of the "Hafenstrasse", while some of the best drum 'n' bass DJs rocked the "Hafenklang" nearby. All around the town people were dancing and celebrating one of the final nights of the Bambule project. The best DJs in town playing one of their best sets ever, creating an incredible party, for the funeral of alternative ways of living in this town, which involve and concern not only the people from Bambule but the DJs themselves and everyone else. A mix of wonderful creativity and ultimate defeat, of total defiance in the face of ultimate repression.

Not that there was any way out: People knew that they were never going to win the battle ahead. Above all hang the certainty that Bambule, symbolising creativity, diversity and freedom, could not be saved in the face of an army equipped both with all up-to-date technology and weaponry, and with the ideology of anti-terrorism. But there was an incredible air of defiance. People celebrated and reassured their humanity and creativity more than ever before. The certainty of defeat caused an atmosphere of both hopeless melancholy and intense happiness, at the same time. A celebration of all that's human. And a feeling that at least the virtues expressed that night will eventually survive. A legendary night. It could be seen as a defeat of all hope. It could be seen as a sign of hope in the face of defeat. For most people there, it was definitely the latter.

It is Sunday night now, the night before the expected eviction. There are reports of police forces gathering on one of the major roads. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people are sitting at home, listening to the local free radio station for latest reports – to come out on the streets immediately when something happens....



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