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Saturday 21st December 2013: International demonstration
Start: 2pm – Rote Flora Hamburg

Defend Rote Flora – enforce Esso Houses!
Against racist conditions – right of residence for all!

With an international demonstration in Hamburg on 21st December, we want to make clear that any attempt to evict the Rote Flora will lead to massive resistance. We focus on the current struggles for the Esso Houses, the right of residence for refugees and the radical criticism on repression and so-called danger zones (areas where the police have extended rights to arbitrarily control and arrest people).

In October of this year, the 24 year old squat Rote Flora has announced a campaign for its defence. Formal owner Kretschmer and investor Gert Baer intend to end the squatting state of the former municipal building and to file a lawsuit against the current land development plan for the area. They have announced to develop the Flora into a 6-storey building including a concert hall for 2500 visitors, an integrated district cultural centre, commercial and office premises as well as a day-care centre and a 3-storey basement garage. For realisation, it is intended to found a limited company with international investors.

Remain incompatible!
Baer and Kretschmer are criticising publicly that the Hamburger Hafenstrasse was not evicted in the eighties and declaring the Rote Flora a contrary political model. According to their press release, the objective is demoralisation of the squatting scene and, by smashing the Flora, not to offer a perspective for new squats any longer. Ideologically, their attack does not only target the Rote Flora as a single local project, but they understand their commitment as a political statement against squatting in general. In the meantime, Baer calls the multiple hundred users of the house a „criminal and terrorist organisation“.
Due to the concrete threat, in a plenary assembly it was called for countrywide and international solidarity action. Even before any money sources develop hope for profit maximisation, inter-regional headlines and deterrence shall create a negative image of the investor project and make clear that such a plan leads to damage rather than gain.

The Rote Flora will not rely on appeasement by policy or public institutions. Redevelopment as well as land development plans can change as well as positions of politicians and media. In addition, the Senate’s approach primarily seems to aim at moving away from the line of fire. Inconvenient decisions are handled via the private economy through privatisation, while politicians wash their hands of responsibility. Not only does this remind of the Esso Houses at the Reeperbahn threatened by demolition, but also of the conflict regarding the Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen.

It was always pointed out by the Rote Flora that the actual conflict primarily is one about city and society itself. The argument is not only about the building at the Schulterblatt, but is part of and refers to the conditions surrounding it. We are fighting not only for the preservation of the house, but for the Flora as a political project and political idea. We are aware that we probably can prevent a potential eviction politically and in advance only – through broad solidarity and strong movements, moving not only from a defensive position, but originating from the change of circumstances.

Shut down fortress Europe!
The refugees’ countrywide fight for a right of residence marked the last months and weeks. For weeks, spontaneous demonstrations and protests were taken to the streets of Hamburg, in order to stop racial controls preparing the deportation of the Lampedusa refugees. Through various forms of protest and action, in motion independently and uncontrolled, it was possible to temporarily push the state government on the defensive. In the meantime, an attempt is being made to split up the group of Lampedusa refugees by using the Church leadership as a lever for Senate politics.

Therefore it is even more important that the entire protest range speaks out clearly and determined. Permanent stop of the racial controls is no object of negotiation in the conflict for a right of residence of the Lampedusa refugees. The right of residence is not a question of the country of origin or a case-by-case review representing a deportation on instalments. Permanent, unrestricted right of residence and freedom of movement for everybody – abolish Dublin II!
While a lot of people showed their solidarity in Hamburg, Berlin and other cities, the last weeks saw a steady increase in racist mobilisations of residents and a series of arson attacks on accommodation facilities of refugees on the outskirts of cities as well as in rural areas. Racism still originates from the middle of society and state-run attacks on refugees support populist sentiments. Therefore an anti-fascist practice is and remains as essential as an anti-racist reference in urban political struggles.

Capitalist city development
Another example of how struggles in the city can refer to each other and connect are St. Pauli’s Esso Houses. Over a hundred tenants are to be displaced to make way for a huge new building with luxury apartments. Existing clubs and shops shall close and be replaced with high-priced business. An attempt is being made to play off tenants’ interests against those of the residents. Policy has dropped every thinkable urban development alternative, in order to clear the way for the investor Bayrische Hausbau. First notices have been given for spring 2014.

All options for a preservation of the building or a redevelopment on behalf of the tenants and residents were blocked, all doors shut. Only broad protest and a resistance that’s becoming radicalised seem to be able to overturn the allegedly hopeless situation. Although the composition of the resistance in St. Pauli is much more heterogeneous, the Rote Flora and the Esso Houses face an amazingly similar problem. The city is passing the conflict into private hands and acts as if uninvolved. As a result, massive protest and escalation seem to be the only perspective against a policy that is trying to enforce its political targets as capitalist practical necessities.

For expansion of the struggles
Worldwide, cities are places of political struggles which frequently refer to each other and connect. When people are demonstrating against gentrification, eviction and increasing rents in Istanbul, Athens, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Berlin, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, not only the issues and architectures of investors overlap but more and more often the experiences of protest and political goals as well.

Political movements are newly created and evolve from the cities’ social basis. The fight for Rote Flora’s preservation is intersecting with struggles of other squats and urban district projects worldwide. There is tenants’ resistance against revaluation and displacement, protest against privatisation of urban life, self-organisation and sabotage against repression and the inhuman system of deportation and sealing off borders.

The Rote Flora is only one of many places currently reflecting these conflicts in protest. For us, this is not about a single project, not only about the Rote Flora, the Esso Houses, the Centro Sociale or other contested spaces. It’s about a radically different understanding of city and society. About trans-boundary solidarity, a practice of appropriation and socialisation of the existing, an attack against capitalist constraints and patriarchal norms.

Right to the city – fight capitalism! No border – no nation!

Contact: flora-bleibt@nadir.org
Information: http://florableibt.blogsport.de

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Update on situation of Rote Flora, october 2013

The Rote Flora is a social center in Hamburg and was occupied in 1989. There were several attemps to evict the building to get rid of this autonomous project and at the moment there is another attempt to end the occupation. The Rota Flora and supporters are preparing to fight against the eviction, in the past they won many battles and they will fight to win this battle as well.

Last week the district council of Hamburg Altona decided a new development plan for the Rote Flora. The new plan stipulate that the Rote Flora will stay a cultural center in the future. Politicians say that this development plan secures the future of the Rote Flora as an occupied project in its current status. The occupants have no trust in the scope of this measure and focus on their own strength and political networking because the investors Baer and Kretschmer have precise plans for the demolition and construction of a new building and for this reason their aim is to evict the building. The investors already announced that they wil file a lawsuit against the new development plan of the Altona district council.


Video: Demonstration for Rote Flora in 2011

The current situation of Rote Flora in Hamburg

Since the middle of this year the situation of the occupied Rote Flora is coming to a head. The rumours that formal owner of the building, Klaus Martin Kretschmer, has been spreading about the end of the occupation since 2009 have reached another dimension as he now has precise plans for the building. In August the project group of Kretschmer held a press conference in which they annouced plans to end the occupation and to use the building for commercial purposes. Several investors and the real estate investor Gert Baer support the project.

Because of this threat a general assembly took place in which the 400 participants called for nationwide and international solidarity actions. Before some new financial backers start to dream about new high profits nationwide headlines and deterrence will create a negative image for investors and make them clear that such a development plan will cause more damage than it will generate profits.

Never ending story? Investor dreams versus autonomous reality…

As Kretschmer bought the Flora in 2001 his motivation was to get the prime spot in the center of the Schanzen neighbourhood for the give-away price of 370 000 Deutsche Mark and to make huge profits after the binding contract expires. Maybe he even believed that he could influence the economic exploitation of the project. Because of the unambiguous refusal of the users of the building to cooperate this calculatio ended up in smoke. Despite the controversies that are popping up every now and then and all contradictions between the demand as a non-commercial domination free space and reality, the Rote Flora persistently continues to exist as an occupied project. Lately we succeeded to increase Flora as a starting point and a point of crystallization for politcal movement in the city and our neighbourhood and to achieve more visibility again.

florahamburg2

Because of his precarious financial situation Kretschmer tried to make a public issue of selling the Rote Flora since 2009. On one hand he was always looking for external financial backers and on the other hand he tried to blackmail the city with his plans to put them under pressure to buy the building back. This strategy completely failed. The buy price of five millions has been proven as way to high, the city aborted the negotiations. Increased activities of resistance (not only by the autonomous scene) as the contracts expired in 2011 made clear that an evicton without massive resistance will be impossible.

In this situation the real estate investor Gert Baer from Hamburg provided Kretschmer the capital he needed to pay his debts. In return Baer received the Rote Flora. As far as we know Kretschmer is still the formal owner of the building but nowadays he only functions as a straw man.

Against all the official statements by politicians there are no judicial obstacles for an economically lucrative exploitation of the building and land of the Rote Flora at the moment. Although there is a push to change the development plan, appropriate conditions for the use of the Rote Flora solely as a district cultural center are not valid yet.

That is the core of the strategy of Gert Baers and the financial backers behind him. They speculate that if they play hardball with a lawsuit against the dispossession in favor of the occupiers could be succesful. In expectation of huge profits the international operating Baer is ready to take a conflicht with the Rote Flora and its supporters into account. This information gradually came to light in the past weeks. After first media reports there was a general assembly and a press conference by Rote Flora and in Hamburgs neighbourhood where the swells live there was an “autonomous fashion show”.

Poster for the "autonomous fashion show".
Poster to mobilise for the “autonomous fashion show” on September 24.

Under time pressure and under pressure of the public opinion Baer and Kretschmer let the bomb explode. In a press release they announced that they will build a 6 floor high building with a concert hall with an intergrated district cultural center, offices, a daycare facility for children and a 3 floor underground parking lot. The concert hall will have a capacity of 2500 visitors. Allegedly they already have an investor from the USA who will finance this absurd project.

Apparently they want to found a stock corporation and they even thought about the users and supporters of the Rote Flora: If they renounce critique of capitalism and violence it would not be impossible to rent spaces for cultural events.

Demo for Rote Flora in 2011, the last of many attempts to evict the autonomous project.
Demo for Rote Flora in 2011, the last of many attempts to evict the autonomous project.

In their press release Baer and Kretschmer criticize that the Havenstraße was not evicted in the eighties and declare the Rote Flora to a contrary political modell. Their goal is to demoralise the squatting scene and to prevent new occupations by smashing Rote Flora and giving no prospects for new occupations. Ideological their attack is not only against Rote Flora as an individual local project but they understand their commitment as a political statement against squatting altogether. In German mainstream newspaper “Süddeutschen Zeitung” Baer labeled the hundreds of users of the house as a “criminal and terrorist organisation.”

The attack against the Flora has started. Apart from longsome judicial complaints and trials the formal owner could also evict the building in a hit and run style by a private security company. Even a “hot restoration” , by torching the building cannot be excluded.

We will not rely on reassurances by politicians. Restoration- and development plans can change just like the attitude of politicians and media can. In the old days the Rote Flora and the autonomous movement were the incarnation of evil now “Bild and “Welt” are seriously suggesting the city to buy the Rote Flora to donate it to the occupiers. Such a U-turn, which reflects the position of the political parties who reject an evicition of the Rote Flora – can turn again in the other direction at any time. Furtermore this position is not coming out of nowhere. Its the result of versatile actions and protests, of solidarity and resistance far beyond the autonomous scene.

New banner at the Rote Flora says: "Who wants to buy this must like stress."
New banner at the Rote Flora says: “Who wants to buy this must like stress.”

Furthermore the intention of the governing senat seems to be to get themselves out of the political fireline. Inconvenient decisions are regulated by privatisations while the politicans wash their hands in innocence. This reminds not only to the Esso houses which are threatened to be demolished but also to the struggle around Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen.

Thats why Rote Flora always have put straight that the current conflict first of all is a conflict about city and society. The struggle is not about a few walls at Schulterblatt. Its part of and refers to the conditions that surround it. For us the struggle for flora is not only to preserve the house, but the flora as a political project and political idea.

From the beginning Rote Flora was part of the “Recht auf Stadt” network (a grassroots network against gentrification). In march 2011 there was an action smash the title register, where not only the title register of Rote Flora symbolicly was smashed, but also other contested projects in Hamburg. At a nationwide demonstration “We make our city ourselves” the most different city initiatives and struggles attended and were discussed. In the last couple of years there were militant interventions who were engaging to defend the Rote Flora. But there were also artists who where involved and the initiative “Not in our name” who organised a festival week and a manifest titled “I would keep it like it is”.

Demo in front of the Rote Flora.
Demo in front of the Rote Flora.

In the current situation we also understand the conflict to preserve the Flora as a noncommercial and self-determined occupied project as part of other struggles in the city. We also fight against the demolition of the Esso houses on the Reeperbahn, for a right to stay of all refugees and against racist controlls, against so called “danger areas” (where police harras people all the time), against repression and to keep Rote Flora incompatible.

With solidarity and strong movements who will not only have a defending attitude, but who will make a change of the conditions to a starting point we will prevent an eviction. With this statement we are inviting everybody to become part of this struggle. Spread this statement, support the practical work in this project, organise solidarity actions or solidarity events, visit us in Hamburg at the nationwide demonstration at December 21 und be part of the upcoming fights.

Rote Flora

October 2013
Translate from http://revolution-news.com

Update on situation of Rote Flora and squatting actions, april 2011

Last weekend, a bigger demonstration in hamburg took place with 4000 to 6000 people for support of Rote Flora squat and against commercialisation of the city. The media attention was high, as there had been lots of discussions in the last weeks about the Rote Flora squat and also about gentrification in generell. Another bigger event was taking place last weekend, as several people squatted a house in the district altona, demanding a social centre „autonomes centrum altona bahnhof (acab)“ and staying inside the former building of the fiscal authorities.

 

Last weekend, a bigger demonstration in hamburg took place with 4000 to 6000 people for support of Rote Flora squat and against commercialisation of the city. The activities were supported by the network „right to the city“ and autonomous and anarchists from different cities. At the same day, a bigger antifascist demonstration in Bremen, close to hamburg „not any meter for the fascists“ was not able to block the fascists, but had a quite successfull mobilisation with 5000 people including participants, who later joined the demonstration in hamburg. One day after, at the first of may, a revolutionary 1st of may demonstration took part in hamburg with around 2500 people and the EuroMayDay as well with 2000 people. The EuroMayDay is a political day of action against precarity promoted by a network of feminist, anti-capitalist and migrant groups and collectives in mostly Western Europe. It takes place on the 1st of May each year, May Day, traditionally a celebration of solidarity among workers across the world. EuroMayDay has been promoted as an attempt to „update“ the traditional May Day by focusing on flex and temp workers, migrants and other „precarious“ people living in Europe. It is made by people also close to the „right to the city“ movement in hamburg.So that all in all the police had a long and intensive weekend.
At the night, several cars were burned, including the one of the environment minister in hamburg and banks were attacked and windows broken. At the demonstration at the 30th of april, a car of german army, which was parked close to the demonstration were burned as police was focussing somewhere else in that moment. Nobody was catched, but all in all around 20 people arrested in all at the weekend.

 

In end of march 2011, the contract with the owner and the city expired in its original form. In the contract was fixed under which conditions Kretschmer could sell the place and that it has to be a social center. From now on, he has the possibility to sell it for the price he wants and to whom he wants. The house is squatted since 1989 and had never any contract since then. If Kretschmer sells the „Rote Flora“, it will be in danger of eviction. The people using the Rote Flora started a campaign „Flora bleibt unverträglich“ for activities against the possible eviction. A twitter account is as well available at: @florableibt.

 

The media attention was high, as there had been lots of discussions in the last weeks about the Rote Flora squat and also about gentrification in generell. But officials in the government are not interested that much in a conflict: „It was not bad for hamburg to have a place like the Rote Flora in the last years“ the minister of inner affairs said recently in an interview. And allready in march the new major of hamburg said that the place should stay like it is. This does not mean the cities government is very liberal, but shows that they are afraid to burn their fingers with an eviction. Nontheless it is still an option that the owner will sell the house and future owners would probably try to evict the place and make a comercial place out of it.

 

Since 1.May the trailerpark Zomia is using the area where they live for some months allready without acceptance by the city. They decided not to leave the area in the end of april but to organise a big party and concerts instead to get support in case of eviction alert. A law in hamburg is specially used for criminalisation of people living in trailers since years. The biggest protests of autonomous and radical left in hamburg was in 2003 after an eviction of the trailerpark „bambule“, thousands of people blocked the city for months and the government faced seriouse consequences that time. But the evictions continued since some years ago the government changed and the 5 left trailerparks have agreements with local officials about being tolerated. But there had not been any new successfull squatted trailerpark since and then people squatted the place zomia in wilhelmsburg quarter in last years summer and still stay there. The future of the project is still not clear.

 

Another bigger event was taking place last weekend, as several people squatted a house in the district altona, demanding a social centre „autonomes centrum altona bahnhof (acab)“ and staying inside the former building of the fiscal authorities, a huge building which was not used for several years allready. The quarter altona is the setting of big restructuring, the government wants to build a „new city center“ and is investing a lot of money for these plans. IKEA is building a big „Inner City Store“ and the trainstation is going to be shifted. The quarter has left traditions but is changing a lot to commercial and expesive living. To confront the situation and show solidarity with Rote Flora, some activists squatted the building and good media attention especially in the context of coming 1st of may. The intention to use the building was failed but the mood of people and possibilities to resist plans of the city was very motivating. Around 80 persons startet to paint and decorate the house, up to 300 people where outside to support the suatters. There was food,drinks and music in- and outside. After four hours the police started with the eviciton of the house. They had to use a angle grinder to open up the basement door and went inside. After seven hours all suatters where set free facing a possible bill to pay, which is going to be covered by solidarity parties. A short videoclip about the action is here: http://feuerloescher-tv2.blogspot.com/2011/04/leerstandsbesetzung-squatting-vacant.html

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