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Occupation of Hamburgs Hafenstrasse on saturday morning

Jenz Steiner | 24.04.2004 19:04 | Free Spaces | Repression | Social Struggles

The history of Hamburgs Hafenstrasse in the north of Germany is closely connected to the german Squatting scene and the 80's.
The conflict has not only been a conflict between real estate brokers, Hamburg state government and local squatters. The Hafenstrasse became an example of symbolic policy and the conflict between society and state.

The Hafenstrasse in Hamburg this morning
The Hafenstrasse in Hamburg this morning

The Hafenstrasse in Hamburg in the late 80's
The Hafenstrasse in Hamburg in the late 80's

On saturday, the 4th of april, shortly before 7.00 am about 100 trucks and trailers blockaded the four lanes of the Hafenstrasse Street in the innercity of Hamburg. Police did not expect such event and reacted slowly. After a two hours the area around the Hafenstrasse has been cordoned off by Hamburg police. Waterguns, bats, bulldozer-like vehicles and teargas have been used against activists. Participants of a solidarity demonstration that started at noon in the centre of Hamburg have been surrounded and pocketed by police. After the road was cleared police have been withdrawn. People are still on the streets of Hamburgs borrow St. Pauli. A spontanious demonstration at 2.30 AM has been fastly discovered and reached by Hamburg police.

The previous history of the Hafenstrasse in Hamburg

After in 1987 negotiatons between Hamburg state government and inhabitants of the 12 houses of the Hafenstrasse have failed, people started building barricades, in order to prevent eviction of the houses. After a compromise has been found, the barricades disappeared.

On the pretext of criminal investigations against persons, closely related to the terrorist organisation RAF (Red Army Fraction) in 1990 all 12 houses have been searched by police and district attorneys. During the following years bothsided provocations of inhabitants and authorities decreased but never really ebbed away.
Plans of the city to make occupants disappear from the street across the huge and famous Hamburg port have never been dismissed.
The main interest of the occupants was to prevent the demolition of the 12 houses in the street, to preserve cheap housing space and the creation of an open public space for a self-determined life. The Hafenstrasse-conflict always included more than a comfortable individual solution for some occupants of the street.

The fight for this free space always had to be regarded in a wide social context, which is also explaining the high level of repression by the state.
The 12 houses on Hafenstrasse are organized as a co-operative. During regular meetings inhabitants of the Hafenstrasse try to find reasonable solutions of problems by finding general contents.

Once in a lifetime on time: The Hafenstrasse in April 2004

Following the motto "Once in a lifetime on time" in the morning of the 24th of April 2004 the Hafenstrasse has been occupied once again.

Hamburg Police did not expect that type of action. Only around 9.00 AM the area was surrounded by police units. Occupants were asked to clear the road. Later bats, bulldozer-like trucks, waterguns and teargas have been used against activists. Vehicles used to blockade the four lanes of the Hafenstrasse have been damaged and taken away by police. Neither Hamburg state government nor Hamburg Police were willing to negociate with the activists. At noon a solidarity demonstration started in the innercity of Hamburg. Some protesters have been attacked and surrounded by police. Accept the nationwide corporate radiostation DeutschlandRadio. german mainstream media and local Hamburg media neglected this event in their news coverage. Only Indymedia Germany and Hamburgs free radiostation RADIO FSK have delivered independend information about what was happening in the city of Hamburg, Germany.


Short video from saturdays occupation of Hamburgs Hafenstrasse here (300 kB, no sound)
Terrible Houses in Danger, Winter 1984/85, ca. 45min
Zwischen Dachziegel und Pflasterstein, 1985, ca. 45min, Film über die Hausbesetzungen Hafenstraße, Chemnitzstraße, Jägerpassage und Pinnnasberg
Die Augen schließen um besser zu sehen, 1986, ca. 20min
Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann, 1987/88, ca. 100min, Wiederbesetzung und Barrikadentage
Polizeiüberfall auf die Hafenstraße, 1989, ca. 20min, Räumung des großen Bauwagenplatzes
Selbst das kleinste Licht durchbricht die Dunkelheit, 1990, ca. 60min, Film über die Durchsuchung der Häuser durch BKA und Bundesanwaltschaft und die darauf folgende Besetzung der Kantine des Stern (Zeitschrift)
Die Hafentreppe, Regie: Thomas Tode & Rasmus Gerlach. D 1991, 75 Min.Bezug über: MPZ – Medienpädagogisches Zentrum e.V., Susannenstraße 14 c,d, 20357 Hamburg


LIVE: from Hamburg RADIO FSK, mp3-stream

Radio Hafenstrasse Ansage, wav 640k
Radio Hafenstrasse Ansage, mp3 400k

Literature about the history of the Hafenstrasse in Hamburg

Hermann, Michael u.a., Hafenstraße, 'Chronik und Analysen eines Konfliktes', Verlag am Galgenberg, ISBN ? ,1987
Sigmund, Monika; Zu bunt..., Wandbilder in der Hafenstraße, ISBN 300000713X, 1996
Mallet, Carl H; Die Leute von der Hafenstraße, Über eine andere Art zu leben, ISBN 389401346X, 2000
Scheer; Hier spricht Radio Hafenstraße, Sendetexte eines freien Radios in Hamburg; Schriftenreihe Politische Untergrundsender, 5, ISBN 3860712055, 1987
Kurzwellen-Pressedienst; [Ed.], Radio Hafenstraße, Heiße Phase in Hamburg (November 1987), Radio von unten Tonstudio, ISBN 3860711296, 1987
Lehne, Werner; Der Konflikt um die Hafenstraße, Kriminalitätsdiskurse im Kontext symbolischer Politik, Hamburger Studien zur Kriminologie, 18, ISBN 3890858937, 1994

sources and resources:
Wikipedia, Nadir, Indymedia Germany

Jenz Steiner
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