Hamburg (Germany): Statement of the squatters of the former ministry of finance in Altona

At the 23rd of april in 2011, 200 people squatted the former ministry of finance in altona, a district in hamburg and declared the Autonomous Center of Altona (AZ Altona). The action was dedicated to the rise of selforganised spaces, against the ongoing housing misery in hamburg and the parallel existance of massive vacancy of office buildings in the city. After seven hours, the police evicted the building and later started penalty against the 40 squatters. Some weeks ago, the first penalty-letters were sent by prosecutors to demand more than 20000 euro in total!

Surprisingly, the building, which was empty for years, was given a few months after the squatting to be used from artist and economic initiatives again. We see this as our sucess that tenants got the building. Eventhough there is no new selforganised, uncommercial center, at least the building is used again at all. But nontheless it is strange and not acceptable that the people who rised the topic of this misery with this vacancy should now be punished by the states repression!

the actions background

The background of the action was the ongoing vacancy in hamburg and the displacement of social unprivileged people from their flats and quarters. In the press-release of the action at 23rd of april 2011 it was described:” The building, which was empts for 5 years is owned by the city and used for speculation in a quarter that is massively touched by gentrification processes. The city seems to keep an eye on the construction of the new IKEA and the parallel increasement of prices for property in the große Bergstrasse street.”
The perspective of a sensefull use by the city was not to be seen for a long periode. The development in altona is not an exception in hamburg and causes basically the explusion of a lot of people is known for years and topic of variouse local initiatives. This process is nothing new and is not only existing in hamburg or germany. A global capitalistic logic of exploitation means the commercialisation of spaces and also the local politics is based on interest in profit, not in perception or needs of the people. Squatting the former ministry of finance in altona was starting exactly from this point. An uncommercial space should be opened, which could be accessible and changable by the neighbours and inhabitants.
Even the conservative newspapers were realising the fact that there is a scandal behind the fact of the abandoned building:
“the target of the action was just this building which is empty for years and which is maintained by the Sprinkenhof AG – an incorporation of the city, which is responsible for ‘cultivation of state-owned rental buildings’ as it is said on the website of the incorporation.”

current situation

We see the current situation as following: The penalty-letters are late for over a year because the city feels uncomfortable to get wider publicity for the case. In combination with a massive growing resistance against gentrification and a failed urban developement, we see a chance to use the repression against us to name and scandalize the vacancy and politics of the city of hamburg.
We will reject the penalty-letters and risk the courtcases to resist them politically and united.
Neither autonomous centers and house-projects were received as a gift, nor a social city.
The Hafenstraße in the days of barricades 1987, the Rote Flora, which is squatted for more than 23 years allready and the Gängeviertel, which is used again for 3 years now are positive examples for sucessfull squatting practice. We are glad about the recent squatting actions, which are more an more in recent time.
For a uncontrollable movement!
Right for the city for all of us”

contact:  az-altona-prozess [at] riseup [dot] net

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az-altona-prozess [at] riseup [dot] net