History of Occupation

 **1990 – 2016**

1990 – Wagenplatz – at that time “Schwarzer Kanal” occupied the former border strip at the Schillingbrücke

1991 – District Mayor pronounces “toleration” until construction begins on the site. No construction occurs for a decade.

2002 – By this time, the wagenplatz has become a home for 25 residents, as well as guests and visitors, and had grown into a green oasis in the middle of Berlin. Events such as cabaret and queer variety shows, parties, concerts, side shows, theater and film screenings would take place regularly.

01/2002 – Development of the property is officially planned (Hochtief is building the ver.di headquarters) without informing the residents about it. There is a lot of protest, tough negotiations, press work and actions.

09/2002 – Relocation compensation are negotiated and a new place is offered in the terrain of Michelkirchstr.20 / Köpenickerstrasse 54, with just a few days to apply to the new neigbors – the German Center for Architecture (DAZ) and the Office Grundstücksverwaltungs GmbH – before the Administrative Court (VG) gives the official date and eviction order for the wagenplatz.

10/2002 – VG Decides that the State of Berlin has to enforce an eviction later than 30.04.2003.
The channel lodges a complaint with the OVG, which is however rejected. Wagenplatz Schwarze Kanal relocates before this can happen.

2002 – 2003 – Meanwhile a content and spatial division of the car place took place (among other things due to rising conflicts about sexism). The upper area at Michaelkirchstrasse becomes a women-lesbian place, the lower area at Köpenickerstrasse a mixed place.

05/2003 – Due to a procedural error, the property on Köpenicker Straße has to be cleared. The “mixed group” has to leave the lower part of the area and decides to fight for a new place by occupying it. The remaining 2-3 women on Michaelkirchstr. want to try to stay in the top place.

In spite of the daily threat of eviction, 3 more people want to move in. When a trans person wishes to move in, discussions arise as to whether Women/Lesbian space will now become Women/Lesbian/Trans space. This happens after long arguments. Trans people begin to see this as a viable safer space, and start using it regularly for events and/or moving in.

03/2004 – An eviction order for the Michaelkirchstrasse 20 is issued by the district. An objection is lodged, which is rejected, and then a complaint is made

11/2005 – The action is dismissed.

02/2006 – Kanal submits an application for appeal to the Higher Administrative Court (OVG)

2006 – There are more and more conflicts within the living group (meanwhile around 13 FLT *), among other things on topics of everyday organization, dealing with each other, the political orientation of the wagenplatz, and dealing with the uncertainty due to the years-long eviction pressure… As the conflicts escalate more and more, there is a division of the group… and later many move out. Some time later, the remaining residents decide to continue to use the square as a (radical) queer wagenplatz. 
With help from outside supporters, which has grown very continuously in the meantime, the residents are starting to set up a project structure so that the wagenplatz can now continue as a public space and not as a pure (beautiful) housing project. Representatives of different user groups, interested individuals, and residents will jointly decide on the use of shared wagons from this point forward; plenary meetings become open, and discussions on political and content strategies, and fundraising through solidarity parties are organized for the high court and lawyer costs. This is followed by discussions about the term “queer”, “radical” … This newly created project structure always takes an enormous load off the shoulders of the resident group, which at times is very small due to individuals taking leave, as many could no longer withstand the eviction pressure.

02/2007 – Appeal is rejected

09/2007 – Wagenplatz Kanal celebrates 17 years of existence, and 5 years in Michaelkirchstraße.
The place has become a queer Wagenplatz where 20 inhabitants from different countries live. We do Voküs (free/donation meals for the community), Solibrunches, open-air cinemas, queer-variety shows, demos, round tables with politicians, bicycle workshop, concerts, actions, networking, plenary and share the work in the kitchen and in the wood making. A queer and anti-racist connection is important to us for the shows, cinemas and free concerts.

2003-2010 – In order to fill the place with political and cultural life, to raise money for the high legal fees, to create a solidary public and to position ourselves politically, the following things took place:
– Large monthly events with around 500 visitors in the Wagenplatz (disenchanted film festivals, Queervarietes, concerts …)
– Many political networks and joint actions (e.g. with Yorck 59 and later Bethanien, the refugee initiative FIB, WomenInExile, various queer groups)
– Organization and participation in demos
– Queers against Nazis mobilization
– Weekly Voküs
– Squatting empty sites
– Bicycle self-help workshop
– Several film projects about the wagenplatz were filmed
– Stay Queer & Rebel campaign days
– Mobilization of Queers Against G8
– Hosting and participation un nationwide wagon days
– Information events for trans rights and refugee rights
– Continuous press work

2006–2010 – Round table discussions with the landlord ALEX Bau GmbH and politicians take place alternately in the House of Representatives and the district office in Mitte (representatives of district offices of the parties PDS, Greens, SPD, of city councilors, mayors, representatives of the House of Representatives and the building senate).
The demands of the wagon project include: no evacuation or an appropriate replacement site and an opening clause to legalize wagon life. Following the round tables, representatives and supporters of the wagon area always invited to a press conference to inform the public of the results of the negotiations and accompanied this day repeatedly through simultaneous squatting, rallies and soli actions in order to increase political pressure.

09/2009 – In September 2009, an eviction is due again, this time due to the land development plans of the landlord Hochtief / Alexbau. During nationwide wagon days in Kanal, an empty property fund site in Adalbertstrasse is occupied. The politicians of the round table taking place at the same time are informed that the place of discussion will be relocated to the occupied square. At the same time, a solo group hangs a huge banner from the victory column. Due to the great press attention of these various campaigns, Mr. Lippmann from the property fund (for the first time in so many years!) Feels compelled to signal a willingness to talk and rushes to fill the place in on all the information being previously withheld.
In the following months, there are now a lot of meetings, negotiations and visits to possible replacement sites from the property fund … which are all out of the question due to the location or size of the properties… until the site at Kiefholzstrasse 74 is offered for temporary use in November 2009. The district politicians from Neukölln are pissed off, feel ignored by this announcement and it is obvious that the Senate had ordered the toleration at this new location.
Due to the very early and severe long winter, the project decides to move to March 2010

03/2010 – Thanks to a very large solidarity support and an elaborate, well-organized preparation during the cold season, the entire site with all its wagons and a large portion of the built infrastructure can move to Neukölln within two weeks.

2010-2011 – The awakening spring in the birch grove, coupled with the attractive 3-year interim use agreement, spreads quickly beyond Berlin and so the few residents who are left after all the stress of evacuation get an unusually large number of moving-in questions. This brings out old discussions and entails a long-lasting process about the question of how the structure of the resident group will be desired in the future (eg regulation of the probationary period, etc). In addition, a new space is created, without constant eviction stress, to reflect more intensely on the structure of the project (e.g. in relation to classicism, racism, transphobia…).

2012 – approx. 1 year before the end of the interim use contract, we turn to a property fund to negotiate a continuation of the contract.

12/2012 – LiFo sends a draft contract incl. Massive increase in rent. This was never mentioned in the negotiations before the move.

03/2013 – The interim use contract ends without an agreement on a new contract. We cannot afford the newly requested rent and LiFo remains with the claim.

2013 – While we are trying to build support to reach a political solution for a affordable rental price, we are negotiating a transitional contract with LiFo by offering more rent (but not the required amount).
The transition agreement also ends in October without agreement on new contractual terms. The occupation continues at a stand-still.

02/2015 – The evening before an appointment, LiFo sends us a draft contract as “ready for signature”, which contains racially motivated paragraphs. The “accommodation of refugees and other undocumented homeless people” being reason for termination without notice.
We are protesting this draft publicly, in the press and on demos and are asking LiFo to explain this point.

05/2015 – LiFo (from now BIM – Berliner Immobilien Management GmbH) is sending a new draft agreement with the same content, but now described as laws formulations. We refuse to sign this contract.
We also request a statement from the LiFo on the racist intention of the draft contract.

07/2015 – The name of the project is changed to Radical Queer Wagenplatz Kanal

08/2015 – We pay a visit together with supporters of the BIM and again demand that the racist paragraphs be removed from the contract.
There has been no BIM response to this renewed request.

12/2015 – We find our address listed in the newspapers as a possible location for a new government funded home for refugees. This is the first we hear of this, with no comments from BIM.

02/2016 – Newspapers are showing more and more lists in which our address is entered as the location of a so-called “MUF” (modular accommodation for refugees). So far there is no official information to us.
Kanal’s internal living group issues the following statement, further cementing the politics of the space as a Queer/Trans BIPoC majority led project