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Squatters Occupy a Berlin Apartment Building (1981)

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At some point the cops arrive, or to be more precise: two COBs, cops on the beat. Is the house still occupied? Stupid question, just take a look. All right, and they're not allowed to enter anyway? Exactly. Got it. At the precinct station we'll now be entered on the appropriate list. For a few days, two plainclothes policemen in their VW Golf are acting as if they just happened to be standing in front of our house purely by accident in order to get a picture of the squatters.

In the meantime, every day the postman brings us the TAZ,* and the coal merchant has put us on his list of customers. One day, the manager of the dry cleaning business across the street comes by with a big plastic bag. The first wash is free, he says, and adds, "You've got to keep clean." Armed with an old sofa and two homemade pies, two grandmas from the old people's home next door show up: "To good neighbors!" They are completely overwhelmed by their own courage, as are we. At some point, a carton of slightly bruised vegetables is sitting on the wall separating us from the supermarket next door. In the meantime we have started playing occasional soccer games against the Bolle** team.

One day, even the gentlemen from "Neue Heimat,"* which doesn't know what to do with our house anyway, turns up. He is totally happy that he's allowed to come in. "Usually they don't even talk with me," he says sadly. Otherwise, he doesn't have much to say. "It's all high level politics now; we just have to wait and see what the outcome is."

Meanwhile, it's turned to summer. In the garden, the grass (no, not the lawn) sprouts up. Everyone has his own room, and the first house-meetings and the first departures are already a thing of the past. We've built a little cottage for the transvestites who lure johns along our fence; it even has a wastebasket for Tempo tissues.** As a way of saying thanks, at the party celebrating the six-month anniversary of the occupation, one of them got on stage and gave us a striptease of the type he performs for the pleasure of otherwise sex-starved Turks in a nightclub two blocks away. The radical faction that wanted to offer the "transis" an apartment on the ground floor didn't get its way. Instead, a baby group moved in there recently.

[ . . . ]

* TAZ: a leftist alternative daily newspaper – trans.
** Bolle: Berlin supermarket chain – trans.
* "Neue Heimat": the trade union-owned building cooperative – trans.
** Tempo: the German equivalent of Kleenex tissues – trans.

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