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German Election 360°: Germany and gentrification

My name is Pamela, I am 43 years old, I have been living Berlin and I am a night club manager for over 20 years now.

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German Election 360°: Germany and gentrification

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My name is Pamela, I am 43 years old, I have been living Berlin and I am a night club manager for over 20 years now.

Pamela Schobeß “Berlin is renown worldwide for it’s outstanding night club scene. One of the reasons why the club scene is so attractive is that the city is known as being liberal; You have a lot of personal freedom here. And also there was a lot of empty space here. That has been changing for a while now and it’s getting even harder to find free spaces.”

Schobeß’ club “Gretchen” is in Kreuzberg, the heart of Berlin. The neighbours are artisans and mechanical workshops. The federal government, which owns the land, wanted to sell it.

Legally, it was obliged to sell to the highest bidder – meaning a real estate investor who probably would have built expensive condominiums, forcing people out. But a deal was made to give the area to the state of Berlin, meaning the club and other businesses could stay. But gentrification, is a hot topic.

Julia Grass, journalist, Berliner Zeitung
*“What are the city’s biggest problems?”*
PS “I think the biggest problem is the question of space. We are talking about space to create.

“For a night club like us it is very difficult to find new places and it’s even problematic to keep the old ones. One reason for that are raising rents. The owners of the buildings change from a private person to an investor whose only concern is to make money.”

JG
*“What should the government do to combat this?”*

PS “They need to realise that quick money is not always good money. I wish the government would have a longer perspective in mind and think about normal people (with little income).”

Gentrification does not only concern businesses: Schobeß has the same problem also as a tenant. The house in which she lives should have been sold. The tenants decided to fight together and put pressure on local politicians. They were succesful: The house was bought by an association and the tenants can stay.

JG *“You’ve been through a lot, with your house, your appartment and the club. How do you feel about that? Do you get the impression that sometimes people are not listening to your concerns? Are you angry about that?”*

PS “You get annoyed and angry, when you get the impression that the situation is deteriorating. I am not against change, that would be stupid. But there are things that I like and I don’t want to see them disappear.

“But our cases can be seen as success stories, although the situation with the club is not finally resolved yet. I see things in a positive light, because I think you can find a solution. If we continue to put our ideas on the table and try to talk to politicians, I think we can define the area in a way everybody get’s something out of it.”

JG *How important is the election to you?*

PS Very important. Because I think the big coalition is not taking us anywhere. It’s like the apartment I had with a boyfriend: Our ideas were different, but since nobody wanted to impose things we found a compromise and the apartment looked crap. It had no style, no esprit, it wasn’t going anywhere. It was just boring. And to me the big coalition is exactly the same. If, after the election, there is another big coalition I really would like to vote again so that we can have a different outcome.”