Clearance of Mainzer Strasse

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The ordered evacuation of Mainzer Strasse in what was then Berlin's Friedrichshain district on November 14, 1990 led to a street battle for 13 occupied houses . The eviction is considered one of the most massive police operations in Berlin in the post-war period and led to the dissolution of the red-green coalition on the part of the Alternative List (AL) and the resignation of its Senators Anne Klein , Michaele Schreyer and Sybille Volkholz .

Mainzer Strasse in the GDR era

Occupied houses on Mainzer Strasse

According to plans by the GDR government, the tenements on Mainzer Strasse were originally to be demolished and, like the houses in nearby Colbestrasse, replaced by prefabricated buildings. On November 29, 1989, however, the project was stopped by the government under Hans Modrow .


After the political change , autonomous people from the Kreuzberg squatter scene also moved to the east of the city .

On April 29, 1990, 13 of the 28 houses on Mainzer Strasse were occupied interim after a call from the GDR opposition group Church from Below in the scene magazine . Mainzer Strasse then developed into the center of the Friedrichshain squatter scene and the symbol of the East Berlin squatter movement in the early 1990s. It stood for the "tendency to see occupied houses no longer just as a space for self-fulfillment, but also as places of confrontation with state authorities and as symbols of a political self-identification." In the different houses, residents with similar political or cultural interests came together. At number 3, for example, there was a women's and lesbian house with a women’s café and at number 4 there was the Tuntenhaus, which still exists in Kastanienallee , with a gay bar and an antiquarian bookshop for GDR literature, which later moved to Kastanienallee and its residents were largely active in the gay and lesbian movement . The occupiers included Frederik Over ( PDS / Die Linke ), who later became a member of the House of Representatives. On July 24th, the East Berlin magistrate took over the so-called “ Berlin Line ” from West Berlin for the east of the city, according to which, in addition to tolerating already occupied houses, new occupations should be stopped immediately. As a result, the number of new appointments decreased significantly. At the same time the first houses were cleared.


On the morning of November 12, 1990, the houses in Pfarrstrasse 112 and the side wing of Cotheniusstrasse 16, which were occupied after the Berlin Line came into force, and then also the house in Pfarrstrasse 110, were evacuated within less than an hour with a total of 600 police officers because, according to statements by Erich Pätzold, the Senator for the Interior at the time, had submitted the corresponding eviction requests and penalties from the owners. According to Werner Throniker, the spokesman for the Berlin interior administration at the time, stones and bottles were thrown at the police barricade around the evacuated houses in Pfarrstrasse shortly after the evacuation. During the delivery of the building material to lock the building, there were scuffles and arrests of four people, two of whom were released after being investigated . Members of the BVV Lichtenberg were denied access to the vacated houses.

At noon, around 50 residents of Mainzer Strasse gathered for a spontaneous demonstration on Frankfurter Allee . Due to erected barricades and dug trenches at the end of the street, the police pushed the demonstrators back into Mainzer Strasse with tear gas , water cannons and clearing tanks, with cars parked on the roadside being pushed aside by the clearing vehicles and sometimes even rooms of legally resident tenants being shot at with gas .

Since the police suspected a central office of the occupiers in the house at Mainzer Straße 9, the windows of the building were shot through with water jets and the rooms were pelted with tear gas grenades. The police then tried to storm the house several times, but they were not able to do so by the residents throwing stones.

Shortly afterwards, the then district mayor Helios Mendiburu appeared to mediate between the occupiers and police operations manager Werner Heine and shortly afterwards announced the departure of the police. Forces, however, were already busy trying to clear a squat in the adjacent Scharnweberstraße, but had to because grout with stones and bombardment flares withdraw again.

Alternative housing projects in June 1990

In the afternoon, barricades were erected by the occupiers at both ends of Mainzer Strasse and the surrounding streets and several trenches were dug with a stolen shovel excavator. The squatters held a press conference at 5 p.m. in the antiquarian bookshop at Mainzer Strasse 4, during which the readiness to negotiate was signaled and a large demonstration was called for on November 14th. At the same time activists distributed leaflets on the street and collected signatures against the previous evictions. The Besetzerrat called for political solutions to all the occupied houses, a failure to evacuate guarantee over the winter, the return of the evacuated houses and the abandonment of criminal prosecutions asked for the removal of barricades.

In the evening around 8:40 p.m., police forces moved with a water cannon from Warschauer Strasse over Boxhagener Strasse towards Mainzer Strasse. A human chain, including the district mayor, tried to stop the emergency services, but were driven apart by the water cannon, which sprayed water and tear gas in several bursts into Mainzer Straße.

As a further barricade, squatters stopped a tram on line 13 in front of Mainzer Strasse and prevented it from continuing, which hindered police operations on Boxhagener Strasse.

Later in the evening, the police announced with a loudspeaker announcement that the police measures had ended and that "no measures were planned at the Mainzer Strasse houses". Shortly afterwards, however, a water cannon was still used from Boxhagener Strasse. A little later, a tram that was hit by a Molotov cocktail went up in flames and was extinguished by a water cannon.

After the Boxhagener Strasse was no longer passable due to numerous barricades, there were increasing riots at the barricade on Mainzer Strasse and Frankfurter Allee.

Meanwhile, civil rights activist Bärbel Bohley was trying to negotiate by phone from Mainzer Strasse 4. While city councilor Thomas Krüger informed her that the operation was a pure police operation, the police operations management put the responsibility on the Momper Senate .

In the late evening, the police had set up in a star shape around Mainzer Strasse and began to clear the barricades with the help of evacuation vehicles at 11 p.m. Another human chain was formed later, in which Bohley and other politicians from Alliance 90 participated and which was driven apart under repeated fire by a water cannon.

Police President Georg Schertz met with Interior Senator Erich Pätzold and Building Senator Wolfgang Nagel at midnight to discuss how to proceed. Meanwhile, the mediators gave a press conference at Mainzer Straße 4 and presented a statement, which was also made by Bärbel Bohley, Reinhard Schult ( Neues Forum ), Rainer Börner ( PDS ), Harms Riediger ( SPD ) and the member of the city council, Gabriele Zekina ( Independent Women's Association ) was signed. The signatories, who have been in Mainzer Strasse since noon, demanded that the police should withdraw and negotiations with those responsible for the evictions with the aim of legalizing the occupied houses through contracts.

Shortly afterwards, the police moved into Colbestrasse and Kinzigstrasse and tried to penetrate through the back courtyards into Mainzer Strasse, while around 1500 people demonstrated on Frankfurter Allee under fire from water cannons.

The situation calmed down around 2:00 am after the police withdrew. According to Georg Schertz, a total of 1,500 police officers were deployed against around 500 to 600 autonomous people. 137 officers were injured, six of them seriously. 20 people were arrested for breaking the peace .

On the following day, at a press conference, the squatters again emphasized that the barricades should be dismantled if it was guaranteed that the houses would not be evacuated. However, Erich Pätzold announced at a press conference in the afternoon that he wanted to crack down on the serious riots of the occupiers. The state chairman of the CDU , Eberhard Diepgen , demanded the immediate evacuation of the occupied houses in Mainzer Strasse.

While the Governing Mayor Walter Momper was on a state visit in Moscow , the Interior Senator decided on November 13th to have the houses on Mainzer Straße cleared. According to the coalition partner AL, however, this was not discussed with AL. Momper, on the other hand, claimed that the decision was made “with the inclusion of the Greens” and sees the opposite position as a “legend”.

On the night of November 14th, the Protestant Bishop Gottfried Forck offered himself to the police chief as a mediator. Forck later also tried to get the captured occupiers free.

Eviction progress

The barricades were raised by the squatters overnight to prevent the police from getting through.

At dawn, a cellar fire was discovered in Mainzer Strasse 23, a house with regular tenants, on the opposite side of the occupied houses and the fire department was alerted. Until the fire brigade arrived, the occupiers tried to extinguish the fire with buckets of water and sand, which did not succeed. During that time, they lit up the street with spotlights on the occupied houses because of attacks by neo-Nazis that had previously taken place. This made it clear how many people are currently on Mainzer Straße outside the houses.

Using ten water cannons, helicopters, tear gas and firearms, around 3,000 police officers began the evacuation around 6 a.m. Demonstrators who wanted to prevent the police from advancing with a human chain on Boxhagener Strasse were pushed away and the officers were occasionally thrown with stones. About an hour and a half later, after the third evacuation request, the police first penetrated via Boxhagener Strasse into Mainzer Strasse, which was defended by around 500 autonomous people with stones and Molotov cocktails . Shortly afterwards, officers from the Special Operations Command came up on the roofs to abseil down and get into the houses through the windows. The helicopter operation was canceled after the aircraft were fired with flares.

Most of the houses were cleared after around two hours. The last squatters and their supporters, some of whom had barricaded themselves in individual rooms, were only arrested some time later by the police and, after they had been searched in the backyards, were taken to various police stations for a few hours afterwards. The street was cordoned off by the police and the search for evidence and clues began in the houses. There were a total of 417 arrests, including MPs, and around 70 police officers injured.

The police spokesman stated that “there was an eviction request from the responsible housing association”. But nobody was found there who would have asked that in the previous two days. In the afternoon, Interior Senator Pätzold and Governing Mayor Momper spoke at a press conference in Schöneberg Town Hall and criticized the “brutalization” and “violent crime” in the occupation scene. According to Momper, the occupiers were not ready to negotiate. At the same time, a press conference with Bärbel Bohley and Siegfried Zoels took place in the House of Democracy , at which the insufficient willingness of those responsible for a political solution was criticized.

Around 10,000 demonstrators gathered on Senefelderplatz in the evening to protest against the eviction and moved to the Red City Hall and then on to the Frankfurter Tor for an interim rally . There the demonstration opposed the police's request to turn into Bersarinstrasse. After the first stone-throwing and the use of tear gas, riots broke out again.

Police strategy

Police President Schertz saw the need for quick action due to the riots on the previous day. Therefore, the mission was only prepared for a short time. However, due to the lighting conditions, among other things, the evacuation was not carried out until the following morning. As the houses were mainly defended by the occupiers from above with projectiles, a special task force first took over the roofs in order to rappel down through the windows into the living rooms, while at the same time the entrance doors were broken open and the building was also accessed through the stairwell.

For the evacuation, the Berlin police received support from the Federal Border Police and 1200 officers from the North Rhine-Westphalia police and 300 from the Lower Saxony police .

Consequences and further development

Later nothing in Mainzer Straße reminded of the incidents and disputes of 1990 (photo from 2006)

After the evacuation, Mainzer Strasse was devastated. The senators Anne Klein , Michaele Schreyer and Sybille Volkholz resigned. On November 16, Renate Künast announced the end of the red-green coalition on the part of the AL. Künast accused the SPD of having provoked "a new wave of violence" with the evictions the day before. The SPD emphasized, however, that the houses at Pfarrstrasse 110 and 112 as well as Cotheniusstrasse 16 were only occupied after the Berlin line had been decided, which the alternative list had also approved. Künast also complained that the alternative list had been "neither informed nor consulted" by the mission and that Pätzold had left "attempts to mediate" by AL MPs "unanswered".

In response to the street battles, the Mitte district called a round table with the aim of legalizing the occupations. After the failure on Mainzer Strasse to “militantly enforce occupied houses”, the majority of the squatters turned to negotiated solutions. About three-quarters of the squatted houses subsequently signed contracts. Between 1996 and 1998 the then Interior Senator Jörg Schönbohm from the CDU gradually had the last occupied houses in Friedrichshain evacuated.

The Senate initially asked GSW to wall up the vacated houses in Mainzer Strasse, but then paid around 25 million euros for renovations in 1992.

Musical processing

The evacuation of Mainzer Straße was thematized in 1992 by the punk band Third Choice in the song Mainzer Straße . In addition, the one-person music project Yok Quetschenpaua dealt with the topic from the perspective of the autonomous scene in its Mainzerstraßenlied .


  • Collective Mainzer Straße: Never say never. Berlin 1991, 100 min. Video documentary about Mainzer Straße and the eviction.
  • Katrin Rothe: Happy birthday - the Mainzer will be vacated. Documentary 2010.
  • The American director Juliet Bashore made two films about the Tuntenhaus. In the first (The Battle of Tuntenhaus) , in addition to life in the house, she mainly deals with the Nazi threat, which, among other things, emanated from the right-wing occupied house on Weitlingstrasse. In the second film, she interviews residents around two years after the eviction.
  • Tim Lienhard : Monday report: Mainzer Straße, 30 min. WDR television 1990.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Press conference on the clearance of Mainzer Straße ( memento from October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). In: DEFA-Stiftung , accessed on September 3, 2019.
  2. a b c d Peter Brock: Mainzer Strasse in Friedrichshain: In 1990 the red-green Senate broke up because occupied houses were vacated: poor dolls' house. In: Berliner Zeitung . March 26, 2003, accessed September 3, 2019.
  3. ^ A b c Andrej Holm, Armin Kuhn: House fighting and urban renewal. In: Sheets for German and international politics . 3/2010, p. 111
  4. Mainzer Straße in East Berlin - 25 years after the eviction - November 14, 1990/2015 on YouTube , November 15, 2015, accessed on September 3, 2019 (from jockelraecher).
  5. a b The Middle English approach - How Berlin squatters Walter Momper's red-green Senate alliance broke up . In: Der Spiegel . No. 47 , 1990 ( online ).
  6. a b c d e f g h i Michael Ziesche, Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk , Harald Hauswald , Susan Arndt , Wolfram Kempe, Berthold Friemel, Stephan Bialas, Heinrich Zille , Merit Pietzker: Berlin - Mainzer Straße. “Housing is more important than the law” (= Basis-Druck-Dokument. 8). BasisDruck Verlag, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-86163-020-6 .
  7. Lars von Törne: Your city is on fire. In: Der Tagesspiegel . November 14, 2005, accessed September 3, 2019.
  8. ^ Thilo Schmidt : It happened in Berlin. In: Deutschlandradio . October 7, 2009, accessed September 3, 2019.
  9. ^ Clearance of Mainzer Strasse in Berlin. In:, accessed on September 3, 2019.
  10. FLEE: squatting East: The evacuation of Mainz. - Chronicle at taz . November 12, 2005, accessed September 3, 2019.
  11. FASCHING IN BONN. Third choice: discography. In:, accessed on September 3, 2019.
  12. Kollektiv Mainzer Straße - Sag nie nie (Berlin 1991) on YouTube , December 14, 2013, accessed on September 3, 2019 ( AVI ; 371 MB).
  13. ^ History. Mainzer Strasse. (No longer available online.) In: Formerly in the original ; accessed on September 3, 2019 (none including mementos ).  ( Page no longer available , search in web archives )@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /

Coordinates: 52 ° 30 ′ 46 ″  N , 13 ° 27 ′ 44 ″  E