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New Berlin: Refugee Camp Oranienplatz

published on 2014-04-09 by Sara
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When I stepped out of my door last evening, a flying rock missed my face only by inches. I looked around the corner to see hooded ANTIFA rioting on Reichenberger Straße. At first I thought I had missed the 1st of May. I finally summed up the moxy to go and see what was happening and asked a passerby.

“The Antifa is protesting the demolition of the refugee camp on Oranienplatz. The protests were peaceful at first, but when the cops came, some of them started behaving aggressively.”

There were about two or three dozen rioters and about six hundred police men. The relations were ridiculous. There was a lot of tension, and I was lucky to quickly pass the danger-zone. I looked back and realized that I didn’t even know where the refugees were going next.

I read in the papers this morning that the refugees left voluntarily. These were the conditions the Senate put up for the talks to continue. Some of the refugees are in proper accommodations now, others in a former hostel. The refugees were promised a chance of an individual examination of their immigration status.

I wonder why the Senate was so desperate in its attempt to close down the camp. Is it an eyesore for the city to have the obvious wrong-doings of our state put on display publicly? Or was it  a matter of responsibility? What was the idea behind the camp, what is the legitimation of shutting it down? Where will all those people be in a couple of months; back where they fled from or in a safe home in Germany, possibly even Berlin?

It’s been more than a year since the refugee camp was put in place by the demonstrators. They might be better off – around 500 people mind you – but nothing is going to change for the rest of the refugees who run ashore in Germany or Europe in general, or so it seems.

The picture I took a couple of weeks ago symbolizes in a very literal way what kind of place Berlin is. Always loaded with hopes and dreams. There are so many traded legends and myths about how these dreams came true in an unrestrictive environment that could only be found right here, but it seems today they’re only reproduced, stripped away from any meaning. I hope the refugees who came to find “New Berlin” will not be disappointed. I hope they will find a new home here, and all of those who follow, too. But something tells me that the re-location of the refugees, out of sight from the good middle-class Berliners, is just another step towards a bleaker life in a clean, tidy city, in which protests become integral parts of the event society and cultural art world and not tools of political and societal change.

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