Greifswald (Germany): Community supported squatting

On the 30th of september 2014 a diverse group of people has squatted a historically important builiding near the center of Greifswald, north-east Germany.
A citizens’ initiative is fighting an ongoing struggle against the demolition of the builiding for 1 ½ years. The houses „Brinke 16/17“ became a meeting point for the neighboorhood since there are several initiatives like a „community supported agriculutre“ group, an organic food shop, a café and some empty flats. The complex is 158 years old and art historicans describe it as a good example for the suburbian homes of the 19th century. The idyllic charming two-leveled building adds to the character of the street, which is changing at the moment with newly build concrete ugly high-price architecture.
One year ago the houses were sold to a constructor who wants to tear them down to build individually owned appartements. This is a good example for the general trend in Greifswald where most new houses are build by big companies who only create profit-orientated housing. At the same time there is an increasing housing shortage which mainly affects students and people with low income who can’t even afford the shoebox sized flats. Social housing was abolished in germany a few years ago and the attempted privatization of the city owned housing company „WVG“ adds to the neoliberal trend in housing politics in general. Gentrification as many of you might have experienced it as a worldwide political issue.

In this context a mixed group of people uses the good base the citizens’ initiative has created in the neighboorhood to establish squatting as a legitimate form of action and bring housing politics on the agenda. Since a few years different campaigns in bigger cities like Berlin(intersquat ect.) and now Hamburg with the squatting days ( in septembre and the campaign „Solidarische Raumnahme“( share the same goal to make squatting more common and use it to question property in general.

Despite the societal level the action is about supporting the initiative practically. After collecting signatures, street parties, negotiations with the owner (offering alternative properties, offer to buy) and demonstrations there were no more legal steps left for the legally working initiative. At this point the squatters showed up.
In the end of a demonstration with 200 people four squatters disguised with balaclavas and neon wigs dropped a banner and held a speech from the window. People cheered and the (two!) cops – they were bamboozeled and as typical for province cops – smoked a cigarette to calm down. The cherry on the cake of this situation is that the police station is just two houses next to the new squat.
Since then they didn’t show up at all.
The owner says he wants to avoid an escalation and for that reason he did not ask the police for eviction yet. Also an eviction lawsuit against the owner of the organic food store is still running, but it is juristically independent from the squatting. Another reason for the calm situation is the constantly positive reaction of the neighbourhood and the media coverage. Some examples of how the reactions look like:
At movie nights just outside on the sidewalk in front of the house some neighbours put out their camping chairs and watched from the other side of the street. An elderly person passing by with his bicycle mumbling to the protesters „Don’t let them kick you out!“. Cars passing the house show their support by honking. A local daily newspaper coming up with the headline: „Anarchy for a better future“[1].
While people inside the house are making themselves a comfortable place to live there are many people everyday outside the house eating, chatting and supporting.
After a twitter post advertising free rooms in the house the students’ union sent an exchange student there who was looking for a place to stay. Now the squatters try to make the infrastructure work again so new people can move in.
The next big task for the initiative is to open a community centre with lectures, workshops, movies and open workspace in the house.

The success of the squatting action is based on the good integration in the neighbourhood, the right place and time which makes us call it a community supported squatting.

Guests are always welcome! We are happy for support and have plenty of free space. The solidarity and support is the fuel that keeps our fire burning! We are awaiting your fanpost!


Brinke WG
Brinkstraße 16/17
17489 Greifswald
jabber: brinkewg [at] jabber [dot] ccc [dot] de