+ Death of a Berlin pub + (update)

Today – despite many protests by inhabitants, despite a successful collection of signatures – a traditional Berlin pub, which was built in the 19th century and which was constantly in operation up to last year – a survivor of two world wars – was torn down. The current plans are to substitute it with a “kleinteilige Shopzeile” (clustered shop row).

Shame on: Real Estate Developpers Grotjan GmBH , Bezirksamt Marzahn in particular Department for “city development” in Marzahn-Hellersdorf (Head Christian Gräff), Deutsche Bahn AG (who sold the estate, without any regard for their own history) and the socalled “Landesdenkmalamt” (CHM department of Berlin) who acted in my opinion absolutely incompetent and totally against for what they are paid for, namely defending historical buildings, instead of furthering their demolishment.

I had invested a lot of time and energy in trying to save the pub. The pub was one of the few locations, where relaxing discussions could be made also without tons of money. The death of this pub is unfortunately symptomatic for an ongoing demolishment of a very important piece of european culture. From my neigbours I heard similar things from Poland and here a link to a Guardian long read about the death of pubs in Britain.

update 2.3. 2016:

On November 19, 2015 I had made an official question in front of the district assembly wether the district could buy the pub/restaurant in order to avoid the tear down. I got the answer: No the district won’t buy the pub.

The day before yesterday the head of the department for city development Mr. Gräff invited the inhabitants of the neighbourhood to a party promotion event, which was set up as a kind of townhall meeting in a local church. Questions and comments to local politics could be made. I asked Mr Gräff why the department of city development and in particular he, Mr. Gräff finds that supporting the 500.000 Euros/year running costs of the castle which is right next to the former pub/restaurant is considered more important than buying the pub/restaurant, which would have probably costed -including renovation- 500.000 Euro once and would have then caused no further running costs.

Side remark: In emails to him and other local politicians I had also tried to make clear that tearing down the restaurant was a shock for many, that there are not many similar public places to go to anymore and that a lot of those shocked may not be the kind of people who usually protest openly and loudly. I had also proposed that if the district buys the pub/restaurant one could for example turn it into a pub/restaurant/cafe-like meeting point which includes the people who had usually been there and likewise have some integrative approach, which could also include refugees.

His answer to my question at the townhall meeting was about (recorded from my memory):

Well – one can have different opinions about the pub/restaurant and I had another opinion than you. Like there are old ladies for whom it is easier if there are shops in the vicinity. Furthermore 500. 000 Euro is still a lot of money and one can use this money better for e.g. preschools and schools.

Remark 1: The size of the clustered shop row is about 60 sqm, so there will be about two small shops, where the pub/restaurant had been. Moreover there are already existing and prospected shops in the ultimate vicinity.

Remark 2: Mr. Gräff is a member of the supervisory board of the company who just recently got the mandate to run the the castle.

9 Responses to “+ Death of a Berlin pub + (update)”

  1. Dr. phil. Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten Says:

    By what I understood from your last post about refugees you were rather
    against providing shelter for refugees. May I ask: Do you want as some other politicians an “Obergrenze” i.e. an upper boundary for the number of refugees ?

  2. Edgar Says:

    A meeting point with integrative approach? Don’t you think that the pub would have rather been raided? Weren’t there just last weekend 134 arrests because of riots in the context of refugee homes in Marzahn-Hellersdorf?

  3. M. Sägenbrecht Says:

    Mr. Gräff is a member of the supervisory board of the company who just recently got the mandate to run the the castle.

    Mr. Gräff is from the CDU party. Did you talk to people from other parties, like the socialists?

  4. nad Says:

    Mr. Gräff is from the CDU party. Did you talk to people from other parties, like the socialists?

    Oh yes. I contacted all major parties in the local parliament at least per email.
    That is I explained to various politiicians in person and in email how important I though it was that that particular public space is saved and in particular that in order to save the pub the immediate surrounding needs to be set out accordingly in the Land-use_planning (Flächennutzungsplan). Mrs. Liane Ollech, who I looked up in person already in July promised me back then to look what the City of Berlin and the disctrict has planned there and to look what could be done. But I didnt hear from her again (in particular she didnt reply to my emails) until recently when I went to a townhall meeting of Mr. Müller the major of Berlin. I told Mr. Müller about the torn down pub and why I think that this was not a good move and the problems with the little shops there at the station. I got the impression that he understood immediately the situation, but he referred me to Mrs. Ollech, because he said he doesn’t know all the details of this particular situation.
    So I told her that I don’t understand why the castle gets funded with 500000 Euro a year and why the pub/restaurant didnt get any help. Her answer was that well the restaurant may have needed the money but finally the castle needs the money as well and one had to make a decision.

  5. Dr. phil. Claudia L. Maier-Bergstätten Says:

    You didn’t answer to my question. Mr Gräff made just the german national headlines with his demand for a “Zuzugstopp” -a law that forbids people to move to Berlin. He says this is necessary because the current red-red-green senate is not able to supply preschools and roads.

  6. nad Says:

    Yes he demanded a “Zuzugsstopp”. Here a link (in german) to an article by the local public radio/TV rbb24: CDU-Politiker Gräff fordert Zuzugsstopp für Berlin.
    He says in the video interview though that the CDU currently does not plan to implement the “Stopp” as a law. But they currently don’t have the majority in the senate anyways.
    And yes he says in the interview that Berliners are suffering because there are not enough preschools, schools and roads. And yes he belonged to the group of politicians who demanded an “Obergrenze” (upper limit) for refugees. That is he had sent out letters to households during the Syria refugee crisis (see also here), where he demanded this. Despite this the party who is usually taking the lead in demanding upper limits, namely the AFD made even more votes than him in a not too small share of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, including his election district, as far as I understood.

    And yes I was back then also concerned by the many refugees and my post was actually even before the big refugee surge.

    But this doesn’t imply -at all- that we see things equally- rather the contrary.

    I still do think though that it must be possible to discuss carrying capacities without being called a racist or Nazi and/or without being put into a corresponding political corner. Unfortunately -especially at the time of the refugee surge- it happened quite fast that all comments with respect to carrying capacity were rather put into the above mentioned corner – in particular I had not so easy conversations even with my relatives. In this context I shall maybe point out that without any exception all of Tim and my parents are either refugees themselves or childs of refugees. And german refugees were not really wholeheartedly welcomed in Germany. My father is actually a Berlin-East to Berlin West refugee.
    In other words -we have a strong knowledge of what it means to be a refugee and there is certainly a great concern on my side about the rights of refugees and I find the question about the limits of carrying capacity indeed very, very difficult. What a world is this where there is no way to run from life-threatening dangers? !

    But what if a refugee or migration surge leads to cascading effects?

    The refugee convention says by the way among others (p.29):

    Article 32 expulsion1.The Contracting States shall not expel a refugee lawfully in their territory save on grounds of national security or public order.


    1.Die vertragschließenden Staaten werden einen Flüchtling, der sich rechtmäßig in ihrem Gebiet befindet, nur aus Gründen der öffentlichen Sicherheit oder Ordnung ausweisen

    So -if my understanding of the law texts is right- even in the convention it is agreed that national security and public order might be threatened to an extend that may make the expulsion of refugees necessary. It is not clear to me in how far this paragraph refers to problems arising from carrying capacity limitations, but in the preamble (p.13, paragraph 4,5 and 6) it is also written that the “contracting parties have agreed”, while

    considering that the grant of asylum may place unduly heavy burdens on certain countries, and that a satisfactory solution of a problem of which the United Nations has recognized the international scope and nature cannot therefore be achieved without international cooperation,

    and while

    expressing the wish that all States, recognizing the social and humanitarian nature of the problem of refugees, will do everything within their power to prevent this problem from becoming a cause of tension between States.

    As a side remark: the convention had been signed in 1951 when the population of the earth was at 2.5 billion people. We are now at 7.6 billion.

    I don’t think that a refugee-“Obergrenze” for Germany has sofar been justified by the UN convention, in particular countries like Turkey have taken a much bigger burden, but I think the terms of the convention need to be reassessed.

    I understand that if you run around Berlin and if you have no ideas about infrastructures and timescales and such then my rumblings about carrying capacity may appear strange and sound as a pretextual argument, but let me give you an example, which I have at hand because I was recently discussing water scarcity and the question whether Berlin needs drinking water cisterns with some people (including people from India):

    Water levels in the Indian state of Bihar shrunk to a critical level according to the gulfnews article: Bihar bringing Bill to conserve groundwater:

    “Authorities said until a couple of decades back, Bihar was a water-surplus state but the whole situation has deteriorated very fast, almost going out of control.”

    In this context it is written in the article Groundwater dynamics in North Bihar plains by Rajiv Sinha, Surya Gupta and Santosh Nepal that:

    Moreover, population has also increased by 25% between 2001 and 2011. Therefore, to fulfill the demand of high population and the growing industry, the groundwater draft has also been increasing significantly

    In Berlin the population growth, which is by the way of course not only due to refugees, was surely not as dramatic as in Bihar, but also not neglectable. According to rbb24 the population increased from 3.3 Million in 2000 to 3.7 in 2018. Thats about a 12 % increase. And as you may know the last 2 years it had been very dry in Berlin-Brandenburg.

  7. The big mammoth Says:

    Sorry what you write here is bullshit – there is enough water in Berlin! Ever seen a desert?!

    I recommend to watch “Why ‘stronger borders’ don’t help”


    “people decide to take risks because there are no formal or save ways of trying to get to the country”

  8. Be Kind! Says:

    @The big mammoth

    Thanks for linking the video. These arguments of pull factors are indeed more than weak. Another example of why people want to flee: in Africa some people, including kids are even nowadays accused of practising witchcraft. Please read the article Story Of ‘Witch Children’ And A Danish Woman Who Sold Everything To Help Them.


  9. Dieter P. Schranz Says:

    @Be kind!
    It is indeed horrifying that innocent kids like this boy are treated in this way. In Europe the witches looked more like this: https://www.tagesschau.de/multimedia/bilder/taube-frau-101~_v-videowebl.jpg (since this is an old lady feeding brids in Russia, some people may have called her a Baba Yaga). Of course this look is by no means a justification for a witch hunt, but for the case of the old ladies one could at least understand what might have appeared threatening, that is they maybe appeared to look scary (don’t get me wrong on this I personally think the old lady in the image looks gorgeous!), and maybe those ladies collected herbage and appeared to experiment with possibly poisonous drinks.
    But what on earth makes kids to appear as threatening witches?

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