On the corner of Kniprodestraße and Hanns-Eisler Straße, a former supermarket-turned-thrift-store sits just northwest of two of Berlin’s refugee camps and just southeast of Mühlenkiez, a community built in the late 1970s. At the end of May, the warehouse—abandoned for over a year—entered a new era with the opening of Prenzlauer Berg’s KulturMarktHalle, a neighborhood meeting point which aims to bring together people of different backgrounds.
On Tuesday, May 8, Ghasem Yazdani, an Iranian researcher in Data Science and Machine Learning at the Technical University of Berlin was in the library working on his master’s thesis when he took a break to watch President Donald Trump’s live announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. The news made Yazdani so upset that he had to stop working.
I remember the TV as I remember his pass that lead to the penalty, as I remember the way he missed that penalty itself. I remember that five minutes or so almost to the second, but to this day I have barely heard a noise like the one that preceded it all: a roar like it had been delivered out of the bowels of the earth at the cleaving of the continents, like God himself had come onto the pitch unannounced there to make things right. It was my first World Cup, Mexico 1986, and I was eight years old.
This weekend, thousands of people are going to march on Potsdamer Platz to protest evictions and untenable rent increases in Germany’s capital. Nearly 200 groups, from neighborhood organizations to tenants’ associations, have joined forces under the banner of opposing Berlin’s Mietenwahnsinn — rent insanity.