Are you living in Berlin Neukölln? Oh, be careful! – this phrase you can hear very often, as well as the phrase : “ Neukölln? That is so cool! You probably are going to party a lot”. With Wedding district it is approximately the same story – some people are openly advising you to move somewhere else, some are really gallous, that you found a flat there. It is also clear, because with renting issues is very difficult right now in Berlin – a lot of people want to move to this modern “dream city”, full of freedom spirit, culture differences and alternative movements. But what is going on in Neukölln and Wedding, that they have such a controversial reputation?
The final administrative reunification of Berlin was finished on 1920th and is famous as ‘’Greater Berlin Act’’. For example such areas as Neukölln or Charlottenburg were small independent towns, but after this law they became a part of new big Berlin City. Wedding was included a bit earlier, but already from the beginning of the 19th century this area was famous as a working-class district, first of all because of a big amount of factories and other industrial objects, which were situated there.
After the Second World War Wedding made up a French sector of Berlin and Neukölln became a part of the American one. That means, that after the building of the Berlin Wall both areas stayed on the “West side’’ of Berlin, but still territorially were very close to the Wall, which made living there not very attractive for the city’s inhabitants. The renting prices became lower, and as a consequence a lot of guest-workers, migrants and simply people, whose finance situation did not allow them to rent the whole flat in farer from the Berlin Wall district, moved to Wedding and Neukölln. Till now these areas are very often associated with migration movement, statistically from 25% up to 30% of population there are foreigners.
Sometimes, during the walk in Neukölln and Wedding is very hard to say, where you are exactly. The names of the shops are written in both (German and Turkish, German and Arabic) languages, and very often German language is not dominant there. That makes these areas very special, these multiculturalism could be observed in different spheres, starting from local vegetable markets and ending with modern cultural initiatives. But unfortunately, because of high amount of unemployment, the level of crimes is also very high. In some quarters there is already well-established “clan system” and sometimes conflicts between the clans could have a very tragic end. For example, on 10th of September 2018 the 36 years old man was killed on a Tempelhofer Feld, which is situated in Neukölln. This case shows the controversy of this area: Templehofer feld is a very nice place during the day, where everybody is coming to do some sport, to ride the bike or just to communicate with each other, but during the night it could be very dangerous to have a walk there.
Another example is more positive, than previous. As it was already said, Berlin Wedding was a labor district before, with a lot of factories situated in this area. One of these factories is located on the Osloer Straße and has a name “Osloer Fabrik”. The only one thing – it is not a factory anymore, it is a Center of Social and Culture Work. In 1855 it was one of the first settlements in Wedding. The company was closed in 1977, and needed big reconstruction and a concept for further development. Than young activists and socially engaged people proposed different visions of the future of this place, and finally, Center of Social and Culture work was established. Now the main principles of this place are peace, non-violent society, environmental protection and ideas against Racism, Anti-Semitism, Homophobia and Sexism.
These two examples are absolutely different, but they are also showing the controversy and transformational processes in these areas. Less than after half century they became very important not just for living, but also for culture and civil activism, which is characterizing the spirit of the whole city in general. Berlin will be never Berlin in contemporary sense of this word without these two quarters.
So, what is going on in and Neukölln and Wedding? Transformations on different levels, new culture perspectives, modern initiatives, but the most important – dynamic of life, which is making every day here more colorful and very special.
3) Murder at the Tempelhofer Feld
4) Website “Osloer Fabrik”
5) Demographic statistics of Berlin (Neuköln, Wedding)