Youth riots in Switzerland

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The contested AJZ in Zurich on March 24, 1981

The youth riots in Switzerland in the 1980s were caused by riots of several hundred young people in front of the Zurich Opera House (the so-called "Opera House riots ") on 30./31. Raised May 1980.

initial situation

In May 1980 the Zurich city council approved 60 million francs for the renovation of the opera house. At the same time he rejected the demands for an autonomous youth center (AJZ). This was followed by a spiral of violence, unique in Switzerland, between the population and the police, for example after the first closure of the AJZ at the Sihlquai car park near Zurich's main train station . It claimed several hundred injuries on both sides and property damage running into the millions.

Visitors to the
Bob Marley concert on May 30, 1980 in the Hallenstadion took part in the opera house riots

On May 30, a demonstration in front of the opera house, which was reinforced by a crowd that came from a Bob Marley concert, led to the clashes that were later referred to as the "opera house riots". The Zurich youth riots came as a surprise to the authorities and the public, but had been announced earlier, for example in the 1979 storm of a concert by Jimmy Cliff . As early as the late 1960s, there were disputes which, among other things, were related to the desire for an AJZ (→ Globuskrawall ). Only over time was the city politicians ready for dialogue and the required space for alternative cultural activities (e.g. Red Factory ) was made available ( see also: History of the City of Zurich ).

Protest in other cities

Violent protests were also held in other Swiss cities such as Basel , Bern and Lausanne . The youth movement was active in Basel from 1980 to 1982 and then again from 1986 to 1989. Initially, the focus was on the required cultural freedom, which the young people wanted to manage themselves. Between 1986 and 1988, the grounds of the Alte Stadtgärtnerei (ASG) were an important place for self-determined alternative youth culture. In Bern the arguments revolved around the Zaffaraya and the riding arena . In Winterthur , the Winterthur events in 1984 in connection with an explosive attack on the house of the then Federal Councilor Friedrich and the subsequent wave of arrests and the suicide of an inmate made headlines.


The eighties movement fought with unconventional means (for example, two Zurich activists appeared in a TV discussion on the youth riots as “ Mr. and Mrs. Miller ” and called for tougher action against the young people), linguistic jokes (e.g. “Macht aus dem Staat Gurkensalat ”or“ Unobstructed view of the Mediterranean Sea - Sprengt die Alpen ”) and with new aesthetic design elements (see e.g. punk in Switzerland ) for more cultural autonomy. She addressed socio-political issues such as the housing shortage or drug misery as well as the surveillance state.

The video Züri brännt from the video shop Zurich , published in 1981, documents the youth riots in Zurich from the perspective of movement activists in a comprehensive way. Also as a victim, Reto Hänny dealt with the events in his Zurich report at the beginning of September in the same year . An anthology published by Heinz Nigg in 2001 documents the events 20 years later from the point of view of those affected and with analyzes by journalists and scientists.

See also



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. In the hot summer of 1980, when Zurich was on fire, on May 31, 2010.
  2. Platzspitz terminus . Martin Eibel in: Der Bund , July 10, 2019, accessed on August 20, 2019
  3. Alone they can make you - house-to-house fighting in the film . Daniel Stern in: WoZ , May 27, 2010, accessed on August 20, 2019