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Stephanstraße in Stephankiez in Berlin-Moabit

Above all in Berlin, Kiez refers to a manageable living area (for example a district ), often with Wilhelminian-style buildings largely spared from the war in an "island-like" location and a sense of belonging among the population that creates a sense of identity.

In Hamburg , the name stands for the entertainment district in the St. Pauli district around the Reeperbahn .

The word comes from the name Kietz for medieval service settlements in northeast Germany. The initially mostly Slavic inhabitants were obliged to provide services for a castle in the immediate vicinity (often due to the payment of fish).

After 1990, more and more residential areas in Berlin were referred to as “Kiez” as part of their name.

Meaning, development and distribution of the term Kiez

Originally, a Kietz in the Middle Ages was a Slavic service settlement in the Germania Slavica , which was usually near a castle (under German rule) and mostly as a fishing settlement at river crossings (for example in Berlin-Köpenick ). These "real" Kietze only exist east of the Elbe . The origin of the term Kietz is unclear. Often a Slavic origin of chyza ('hut' or 'house') is assumed (compare etymologically also Kessiner ). Other theories, however, assume a Germanic origin of the word, for example from Kober ('carrying basket') or Kote ('hut'). Even long after the Slavic settlement, many Kietze remained as independent structures. Some of them retained their administrative independence until the 19th or even 20th century, despite being in close proximity to the center of a city. Today the names of places and streets are reminiscent of many Kietze, especially in north-eastern Germany. Occasionally, traces of this neighborhood have been preserved in the townscape to this day.

Later the term Kiez was used with derogatory intent for certain remote settlements.

"[...] since the heretics were inferior to the German townspeople in terms of education, prosperity and rights, the name K [ietz] got a mocking connotation, and even today poor and remote suburban areas are jokingly called K [ietz]."

- Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon , 1905 : Keyword Kietz
Great freedom in the “Kiez” in Hamburg

Sometimes the term was also associated with prostitution and its environment. The song Mignon vom Kiez by Friedrich Hollaender and Hermann Valentin was published in 1921 . In this sense, the term is still used today for the Hamburg entertainment district St. Pauli , especially for the Reeperbahn and the surrounding streets. The phrase “to be in the neighborhood” can be used as a paraphrase for visiting a prostitute . They called colloquially also neutral any other form of stay in St. Pauli, for example in the form of the statement, "I live in St. Pauli" or "The Cathedral is St. Pauli", which for an intended ambiguity makes. In addition, the term " Kiez size " exists as a term for influential people in the red light district.

In Hanover , too , some streets with a similar mixture of red-light and nightlife districts are called Kiez.

National Socialist writings from the 1930s indicated that a Kiez in Berlin was a “place with a decidedly communist population” “during the fighting time” before 1933; B. "Fischer-, Alexander-, Beussel-, Nostitz-, Rostocker, Soldiner Kiez, in Berlin Lichterfelde Ost Kaiserkiez (Kaiserplatz)". In his work Die Ostdeutsche Kietze , which was also published during the time of National Socialism , the historian Herbert Ludat also deals marginally with the Berlin residential areas that were then known as Kietz or Kiez . The Fischerkietz in Berlin-Mitte , which at the time became known primarily through the work of Horst Wessel , had "become a fixed term for him, not least through the press [...], whose existence through the past centuries, however, cannot be thought of". In connection with the Bötzowviertel , he reports on the "scornful and disparaging designation Beamtenkiez" . Ludat names a few other examples of Berlin neighborhoods, which, however, are of little importance to him and consequently not clearly documented or of modern origin. Ludat concludes that these Kietz terms “can be seen as a prime example of modern Kietz terms that are only just emerging”.

Kiez-Treff der Arbeiterwohlfahrt in Berlin-Marzahn , 1990

After the Second World War, the term developed in Berlin as a rather positive appellative for a small residential area. Comparable to the Wiener Grätzl or the Kölner Veedel , it mostly refers to areas with a certain amount of old buildings and their population. Above all, it is about the role of the respective quarter or quarter as a social reference system, not necessarily based on fixed administrative boundaries. In this context, a neighborhood is characterized by the fact that the resident has a self-contained urban infrastructure with shops and bars . That's why you often hear the phrase in Berlin: “He can't get out of his neighborhood”, which means: “Someone hardly leaves their living area” - because they find everything they need for everyday life. The residents stay mostly to themselves in "their" neighborhood. Shops are located here almost exclusively for the local residents (in contrast to shopping centers ).

Especially since the last quarter of the 20th century, designations with -kiez (usually appended to the name of a defining street or a central square) have also become popular as proper names for certain areas. The term Kiez is not only limited to old building areas, but now also exists for new building areas or single house settlements. It is deliberately used by some real estate companies as an advertising term for new construction projects, which is intended to give them a special flair.

The term Kiez is now also used in southern Germany, far from Germania Slavica. In the brochure Wir in Biebrich , the Office for Social Work of the City of Wiesbaden describes the Parkfeld housing estate in the Biebrich district as “Kiez”. Munich uses the term “Heimatkiez” to advertise the Long Night of Music taking place there . The same applies to Augsburg .

Well-known neighborhoods


In today's area of ​​Berlin there were two medieval neighborhoods, namely in the then independent cities of Köpenick and Spandau . While the Köpenicker Kietz is still recognizable today as a largely closed building ensemble with houses from the 18th and 19th centuries, the Spandauer Kietz is no longer preserved. The Lichtenberger Kietz in today's district of Rummelsburg was not built until the 18th century and has nothing to do with the historical Kietzen; the name comes from an old field name.

Today's names for the Berlin neighborhoods emerged in the 20th century at the earliest. Since the late 1990s, the term Kiez has been picked up more by the media in Berlin and is now also used in upscale language. Most of the proper names with -kiez mentioned here date from this time. The term quarter is used more often.

For urban planning, there are planning areas of the LOR division throughout Berlin in all twelve districts, regardless of the “Kiez” designations .


In Hamburg, the entertainment district around the Reeperbahn with the surrounding streets such as Hans-Albers-Platz , Große Freiheit , Hamburger Berg , Davidstraße , Talstraße or Herbertstraße is called “Kiez”. The term therefore means red light district for Hamburgers . In contrast to the way it is used in Berlin, in Hamburg they say “ on the Kiez” and not “ in the Kiez” (see above).


The Kiez is located in Hanover at the Steintor and consists of around 70 facilities in five streets (for example Scholvinstrasse and Reitwallstrasse ). As in Hamburg-St. Pauli, the Kiez in Hanover is an entertainment and red light district.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Kiez  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gerhard Schlimpert : Slavic names in Brandenburg. In: Wilfried Schich (Hrsg.): Contributions to the origin and development of the city of Brandenburg in the Middle Ages. de Gruyter, 1993, ISBN 978-3-11-013983-9 , pp. 30-31
  2. Keyword Kietz . In: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon , Volume 10. Leipzig 1907, pp. 898-899
  3. Klaus Siewert / Stefan Hentschel : Hamburg's "night jargon": The language in the neighborhood in St. Pauli. With a CD "Night jargon in forgotten Hamburg songs". Münster, 2009. ISBN 978-3000127816 .
  4. Helfried Spitra (ed.): The great criminal cases II: The St. Pauli killer, the escape king and nine other famous crimes. Page 16. Campus, 2004. ISBN 978-3593374383 .
  5. Julius-Karl von Engelbrechten : We wander through National Socialist Berlin: a guide through the memorials of the struggle for the Reich capital. Rather, Munich 1937
  6. Herbert Ludat : The East German neighborhood. Georg Olms Verlag, 1936. ISBN 3-48707-5733 , pp. 33/34.
  7. ^ Office for Social Work of the City of Wiesbaden: We in Biebrich. Diversity is good . P. 25 (13)
  8. Long Night of Music. Retrieved April 25, 2018 .
  9. Concerts | Augsburg | Summer in the neighborhood. Retrieved on August 24, 2019 .