Eviction of liebig34 applied for: bad news, good news

The application has been submitted: the Liebig34 house project in Friedrichshain is to be evicted. Building city councilor nevertheless speaks of solution.

How colorful will Friedrichshain remain? Photo: dpa

"There is news that is quite sad," says a resident of Liebig34. Bad news after the film premiere of "Indoor" about the house project in Friedrichshain saddens the audience on Wednesday evening in SO36. On stage it is announced that the house has received an eviction notice from the owner Gijora Padovicz.

Liebig34 is an anarcha-queer-feminist housing project, self-managed by a collective. 40 women, lesbians and transgender people live here. In 1990 the house was squatted, shortly after that the squatting was mostly legalized. In 2007, the attempt to buy the corner building with a cooperative failed; instead, the building was sold to the Berlin real estate company Padovicz.

Even then, the residents had demonstrated against the sale. The Padovicz family is a well-known player on the Berlin real estate market. In Friedrichshain alone, they own about 200 houses. Tenants of the real estate company network and organize themselves online on a "Padovicz-WatchBlog".

In 2008, the Liebig34 collective finally negotiated a ten-year lease that expired with the new year. However, like the youth center Potse in Schoneberg or the trendy pub Syndikat in Neukolln, the collective refused to hand over the keys. But now the owner has applied for eviction. The project feels acutely threatened.

The last survivor

The short film "Indoor" presented on Wednesday showed how important the Liebig34 is. The protagonist in the film leads viewers through the house – and thus through the lives of the house’s inhabitants*. "It’s not always easy to live in a collective, but it’s about the bigger picture," said one housemate. In addition, with the eviction of Liebig34, the so-called village square would no longer be the same. Several squats once gathered around the intersection of Rigaer/Liebigstrabe, of which Liebig34 is the last survivor.

So there is a lot at stake. On this premiere evening, to which Liebig34 had invited to inform about the conflict, it nevertheless seems a bit as if the air is out: There is hardly a chance to decide the case legally for themselves, according to one of the representatives of the project. The fact that the house owner is now taking legal action seems to have taken away the last spark of hope.

Threatened spaces In addition to the house project Liebig34 in Friedrichshain, the left-wing scene pub Syndikat in Neukolln and the youth center Potse in Schoneberg are currently among the threatened alternative spaces in Berlin.

What the spaces have in common The leases of all three free spaces expired at the end of the year. However, all three collectives have refused to return their keys. On Twitter, the projects spread the hashtag #wirbleibenalle

What now? Whether to evict in such cases depends on whether the landlord applies for an eviction. According to Schoneberg Youth City Councilor Oliver Schworck (SPD), this did not happen in the case of the Potse. The Liebig34 made it known on Wednesday during a film premiere that the landlord has filed an application.

Florian Schmidt (Greens), city councilor for construction in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, seems surprisingly optimistic. He has been negotiating with the owner Padovicz since September of last year. At that time, he told the taz that a solution for the Liebig34 house project was on the horizon. At the end of September 2018, around 1,000 people demonstrated in Friedrichshain against the pending eviction. That a solution is on the horizon, Schmidt says even now, after the application for eviction became known.

Schmidt understands the uneasiness that such a step by the owner now triggers, but ultimately it is a mere formality. In addition, the application was a step that had been "non-negotiable" for the owner. "No surprise to me," Schmidt said.

So, according to Schmidt, an eviction is not imminent, even if the owner now wants to create a legal basis for it. Schmidt says, "As long as I am in discussion with the owner, there will be no eviction." Negotiations in a "triangular communication" with the owner Padovicz and the collective of the Liebig34 would continue, he also wants to re-establish direct contact. The details of the "solution that is emerging", Schmidt does not want to name. Only this much: "We will not give him anything." In two to three months, the conditions of this solution should be clarified: "Then we must have the commitment from both sides" to implement the negotiated solution. Admittedly, that could then take a bit longer.

An activist of the house project said on Wednesday that it was "time to show that Liebig34 cannot be evicted so easily." The people who came to SO36 are called upon by the activists to support them in preserving the house project. Professor Margit Meyer, who introduced the evening with a historical lecture, ended by voicing what she believes Berlin is, is and should remain: "A city for its people, not for property."

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