Network self-help

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The association Netzwerk Selbsthilfe eV is an initiative founded in 1978 for political and economic self-help . He networks, advises and financially supports political, social and cultural initiatives as well as business start-ups. When it was founded, the network was a project of the 1968 movement in terms of personnel and in terms of its members and supporters .

With the establishment of its own redevelopment agency Netzbau together with the Evangelical Church Berlin in April 1982, Netzwerk succeeded in creating an organization as an intermediary between the Berlin Senate and the squatters, which was disbanded in December of that year as a result of house evictions by the Interior Senator Lummer, but - organizationally now separated from the network and on an expanded basis - led to the re-establishment of the alternative redevelopment agency Stattbau in March 1983. This succeeded in renovating and legalizing many of the houses that had been occupied in previous years.

The network managing director Gert Behrens took over the management of Stattbau in 1983 , followed by Peter Finger at Netzwerk , who " wants to promote the network out of 'niche politics' and more towards projects of workers' self-administration."

The network has retained its basic award criteria to this day.


As a result of the student strike in West Berlin in 1976/77, which was motivated and actively led against professional bans at universities and schools, numerous project groups were founded in the city districts after it subsided. As early as January 1978, at a meeting of several days of nationwide active, “alternative” groups for the “ Meeting in Tunix ” at the Technical University of Berlin, 15,000 participants met. Many of the projects had money problems and alternative financing options were considered.


A working group that had formed a kind of financial 'insurance' for those affected by professional bans in the public service recognized the far more extensive situation and created a concept for a "self-help network for those affected on the basis of the principles of subsidiarity (help for self-help), Self-administration and cooperative way of working ”.

Founded network self-help on 23 November 1978 at the main auditorium of the Technical University of Berlin.

Since then, Netzwerk has pursued the goal of providing financial and advisory support to groups, initiatives and associations with questions about setting up a business or association, with event planning and the financing of project ideas. An important aspect was the promotion of a counter-public .

These projects then received interest-free loans and non-repayable grants upon application and after the project had been examined. In 1979 the network had around 4,000 members. The founding members included celebrities in 1968 such as Rudi Dutschke , Otto Schily , Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Günter Wallraff .

The Mehringhof (first courtyard), 2008

Projects from the 1980s

“Numerous, meanwhile established projects would not have been possible without the support from the network. In 1980, the first editorial computer of the daily newspaper (taz) was pre-financed with start -up financing. Network helped the Berliner Kabarett Anstalt (BKA) and the ufaFabrik (international culture and event center on the former UfA film studios in Berlin-Tempelhof) with their initial difficulties. In 1980, Netzwerk moved into the former headquarters of Berthold AG in Kreuzberg with six other projects and together with them founded Mehringhof GmbH. "

A conflict arose after the request of 10 feminist projects and the women's magazine Courage that a third of the network budget should be allocated to women's projects independently by an autonomous women's council. Those who wanted to give preference to a purely factual orientation turned against it. In a strike vote in 1981, an autonomous women's council was rejected with 1115 to 635 votes. As a result, numerous women left the network and founded the women's network "Gold Rush".

Establishment of Stattbau

Network played a decisive role in the conflict in the 1980s in the fight against the redevelopment of areas in West Berlin in securing and legalizing occupied houses.


Area renovation: Demolition of block 104 in Kreuzberg in 1980

Among the countless activities and goals of the youth generation 'after the 68s', which had spread as an “ alternative movement ” in West Germany since the late 1970s, resistance to the renovation of areas in West Berlin was added in 1980 , in which entire old buildings were demolished - "Blocks" city quarters were transformed into new building zones. Since the old buildings could not suddenly be made “tenant-free”, entire areas of houses, some of which had been severely destroyed by construction crews, were initially empty. In 1980 the first squatters took place in Kreuzberg and the “repair squatters movement”, which was also supported by the population, had taken over 160 houses in mid-1981. Since architects and urban planners were working intensively on a new urban redevelopment concept - cautious urban renewal - the political resistance also caught many sympathizers in institutions, organizations and even authorities. The methods of area rehabilitation were soon stopped, but under the leadership of the Berlin Senator for the Interior Heinrich Lummer , numerous houses were evacuated, resulting in street fighting. For months there were 'civil war-like conditions' in the city center and after a large-scale evacuation operation on September 22, 1981, the squatter Klaus-Jürgen Rattay was killed.

The event came as a shock on all sides and an initiative to reach an understanding was initiated by Mayor Richard von Weizsäcker , which was successfully transferred to discussion groups in 1982 by the Evangelical Church in West Berlin under the direction of Bishop Martin Kruse .

Forerunner "network construction"

Meeting of the supervisory board of Stattbau in 1983

From the beginning, Netzwerk took on a leading role as a mediator and pursued the approach proposed by the church commissioner and synodal Rainer Papenfuß , to legalize houses occupied by an "alternative redevelopment agency " subject to a regular repair program in coordination with the building senate. After some internal discussions, Netzwerk founded Netzbau GmbH in March 1982 .

The explosiveness of the company was high and led to considerable tension within the Senate and also the ruling CDU - interior senator and police leadership endangered the constitution process by surprising evictions of houses already in contract negotiations: In protest, a network general assembly broke up Netzbau in December 1982, but nevertheless After renewed discussions and a reorganization at the beginning of 1983, the redevelopment agency Stattbau Stadtentwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, now also independent of Netzwerk, was founded (entry in the commercial register on July 13, 1983). The Evangelical Church contributed DM 30,000 to the share capital through donations and a network of DM 20,000.

Network in focus

In connection with the conflict about the Netzbau / Stattbau founding, numerous opinions and data on the network were published in the West Berlin press.

While Rainer Papenfuß awarded the network “strict party and group independence”, the Berliner Morgenpost published the police mirror, issue 4/81 : “As can be seen from its own circulars, 'Netzwerk' pumps considerable sums into the squatter groups. 'Network' also takes on the essential part of the logistical cohesion of the occupation movement. ”Among the“ gray eminences ”were“ Joseph Beuys , Freimut Duve , Robert Jungk and Rüdiger Lutz ”(from the“ Club of Rome ”), as well as Professor Helmut Gollwitzer , Pastor Heinrich Albertz , lecturer at the Free University, the lawyers Otto Schily and Christian Ströbele , also Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Peter-Paul Zahl .

Rainer Papenfuß gave the figures: In March 1982 over 6,000 members in Berlin, "with membership fees averaging 15.–, 70,000 to 90,000.– are available nationwide, especially for project support.":

"Projects that are worthy of support are those that practice democratic self-administration, develop exemplary alternative ways of living and working, that are not geared towards individual profit, that are willing to cooperate with projects of the same direction, that promise personal continuity and organizational functionality, and usually for the longer term Offer a chance to support yourself. "

- R. Papenfuß: Brief description in Stattbau informs 2 , p. 23 f.

Instead of building as a redevelopment agency

Headquarters of the Luisenstadt Cooperative at Heinrichplatz

After Building Senator Ulrich Rastemborski resigned in August 1983 , the Vice President of the House of Representatives, Klaus Franke , replaced him in office. On September 5, the Stattbau renovation contract for 12 houses in block 103 and the house at Oranienstrasse 198 in block 104 in Kreuzberg was signed by Franke and the Stattbau managing director Gert Behrens. The houses were retained by the squatters according to regular sales processes, were renovated by them according to technical instructions and in 1986 mostly passed into the ownership and management of the self-administration Luisenstadt eG, founded by Stattbau . The whole process was completed in 1990.

With the experience gained from this, especially in the involvement of residents, the company STATTBAU, which was now entrusted with expanded areas of responsibility, became the leading redevelopment agency of the ailing eastern Berlin after the reunification of West and East Berlin with the concept of cautious urban renewal adopted by the Berlin House of Representatives in March 1983 Districts of Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg .

Nationwide expansion

In the founding phase, the focus was mostly on direct grants to self-help and self-administration projects. In addition, there were networking activities between the projects and advice on access to government funding and other funding "pots".

After more and more projects from West Germany submitted applications, the self-help network became regionalized in the 1980s. It emerged u. a. independent network associations in Bremen, Munich, Hamburg, Kiel (Schleswig-Holstein) and in the Ruhr area . A corresponding network has also been established in Switzerland.

Hamburger Netzwerk eV co-founded an alternative property developer for self-organized housing projects (Stattbau Hamburg GmbH), and sent delegates to the award committee of a support foundation established in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg (Lawaetz Foundation). He promoted the establishment of a cooperative to take over the owner function in previously occupied houses and residential projects (Housing Cooperative Schanze eG).

Since the networks promoted social and alternative acquisition projects (self-sustainability), the non-profit status was not recognized by various tax offices. The association Educational Network for Self-Administration and Ecology eV was founded in Hamburg as a non-profit educational institution

With the tendency to institutionalize many alternative projects and the social and cooperative criteria increasingly recognized or 'adopted' by state and public institutions, which the network was originally able to claim for itself, many network associations dissolved again. Today young people are also orienting themselves towards other forms of start-up ( start-up companies and crowdfunding ). This also applies to donors in a similar way.

Further support

Netzwerk vouched for the SO36 , a legendary venue in Berlin-Kreuzberg, in the event of an acute financial risk; In 1981 Gegenlicht Super8-Filmverleih received a grant and in 1984 the Ökobank received the initial spark through start-up funding from Netzwerk . In 1997, the Kreuzberg exchange ring was also decisively initiated by the network .

Political campaigns and initiatives were later also supported, “this included the campaign for the census boycott (1987), the campaign against the meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Berlin (1988) and the campaign against an explosion in commercial rents (1991) as well as the initiative to found the Kreuzberger Tauschrings (1997), the founding of the 'Work differently or not at all' initiative (2000), the first attempts at the Internet portal Indymedia Germany (2001), the campaign for the victims of racially motivated police violence (KOP) (2002), the establishment of the Basic income network (2004) and start-up aid for the NETZ competence center for self-administration and cooperation Berlin-Brandenburg eG (2006) and the Linke Buchtage (since 2005) ”.


After this high phase of nationwide distribution in the 1980s, there are still three associations in Germany that pursue the same purpose under the same or similar names. Competent consultants should also be placed right from the start. The association also published numerous guides.

The Self-Help Network Berlin-Brandenburg currently awards around 40,000 euros a year.

Web links


Individual evidence

  1. Martin Wiedmann: The child released for adoption , February 1983, in: Stattbau informed , Volume 2, 1984, p. 101.
  2. Website 40 Years Network 2018 (accessed on September 17, 2019).
  3. ^ Website history network . (Accessed September 17, 2019).
  4. Waldemar Schindowski: Chronologie Alternative Ökonomie 1978ff Archived copy ( memento of the original from June 29, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ↑ In detail on the founding process and the conflicts in: Ed .: Stattbau Stadtentwicklungs GmbH: Stattbau informs , Volume 2, Stattbau and October printing , Berlin 1984, Part 1 & 2, pp. 15 to 108.
  6. Berliner Morgenpost: Network - who is behind this ominous organization? , May 23, 1983, in: Stattbau informs 2 , p. 281 ff.
  7. ^ Rainer Papenfuß: Network self-help. Brief description , March 12, 1982, in: Stattbau informs 2 , 1984, p. 23 f.
  8. ^ Network Holstein Schleswig (ed.): City and Land Book Schleswig Holstein . Kiel 1988.
  9. History Network website (accessed on September 17, 2019).
  10. Organization network website (accessed on September 17, 2019).