Berlin. A statement by Köpi on the thread of eviction of the wagenplatz.
Originally published by Köpi 137.
Our current situation:
At February 4th we received a formal letter filed in court from Startezia GmbH to vacate the Køpi Wagenplatz (aka Køpiplatz) by February 28th 2021. After more than 20 years, Startezia GmbH thinks they can force us to leave Køpiplatz but of course we have not left, and we are unwilling to give up our homes. Until now the first court date has not been set, but it is definitely coming sooner rather than later. We have been under threat of sale or eviction before, but this time, as gentrification and new construction surround us, we believe the risk to be more serious than ever before.
Facts about the owners of Køpi:
Here are some facts about Startezia GmbH, the current owner, who are the company pursuing legal action against us:
Startezia GmbH acquired Køpi & Køpiplatz in an insolvency auction in 2013 from Novum Koepenicker Strasse 133-138 under the direction of Besnik Fichtner. Fichtner together with Siegfried Nehls had a side company called Plutonium 114 GmbH. Before renaming it Plutonium 114 GmbH, the company was called Vitales Altbauten and also owned by Nehls. Plutonium 114 then became Novum Köpenicker Strasse 133 – 138.
In 2013 a new Novum Grundbesitz und Beteiligung AG was established with Yervand Chuckhajyan listed as the head of the company, the same owner as Stratezia GmbH. It looks like Startezia GmbH transferred the ownership of Køpi and Køpiplatz properties from its own company Novum Grundbesitz und Beteiligung AG, previously Novum Köpenicker Strasse 133 – 138. All these companies are interlinked with the same people named as the owners in most of the cases. Nehls’ “flagship” company is Sanus AG and all companies mentioned above seem to be sub-companies. Nehls along with 10 of his companies currently owes 3,2 Million Euros in tax debts in Zossen, a city offering the lowest corporate tax in Germany.
Since Startezia GmbH appears to be just a letterbox company based in Köln, we believe they have no intention to build anything concrete soon, but rather leave Køpiplatz land standing empty merely for speculation. In fact they have had a building permit since 2015 and are only acting now because the permit is set to expire in November 2021.
Why we take the threat seriously:
In the last few years we have witnessed dramatic changes in Berlin where self-organised places have started to be evicted one by one. The youth centre Drugstore in Schöneberg, opened since the 70s, was forced to hand over their keys in January 2019. Followed by Syndikat bar, a left scene icon in the Neukölln neighbourhood, was evicted in August 2020 after 35 years of existence. Another victim of brutal gentrification was queer-feminist house project Liebig 34. To forcefully evict this landmark in October 2020, Berlin deployed 2,680 cops and the estimated cost was at least 1 Million Euros. Does the city of Berlin really want to spend this amount of money on evictions rather than finding a way to protect alternative, self organized spaces that offer immense value to the cultural diversity of a city?
The list of places recently evicted goes on with Sabot Garden, Diesel A, G17A, Friedel 54 and Berlin’s largest homeless camp at Rummelsburger Bucht, Its eviction was masked as “humanitarian” while in reality it paved the way for the construction of a giant aquarium park.
There are even more spaces currently under threat: house project Rigaer 94, autonomous left wing bar Meuterei who already have an eviction date of 25th March 2021, youth club Potse and us – Køpiplatz. It might be a pure coincidence that these places are being evicted or threatened with eviction so close to each other, but this wipe-out tactic has been used in other places around the world. Strategies like these serve to try to exhaust and overwhelm people and make it more difficult to effectively organise to support each other.
An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, we stand in solidarity with one another and each endangered project.
Our Way of Life:
We strongly believe that non-hierarchical, self organised places have a great impact on how people think and offer an irreplaceable alternative to the way people live, enjoy culture and perceive the world where solidarity rather than money is in the foreground. We have created a community not only for living space but for people to test ideas, organise art, skill share, learn and grow. We do not insist that everyone must conform to the way we live, but respect our choice to live this way. We believe we have something valuable to contribute to the cultural fabric of the city, and without us, and other diverse spaces, the city becomes a homogenous wall of anonymous glass facades.
However, we are not the only one suffering because of gentrification, so are small businesses, people on lower income as well as older people who are being forced to the margins of the city. Out of sight, out of mind. This needs to stop. We are not only fighting for our homes but for an inclusive society we strongly believe in.
Today, Køpi is 31 years old. At the beginning this space was unlivable, but a small group of dedicated squatters built what would eventually become home to activists, artists, musicians, and freaks living in the house and Køpiplatz. We are also an autonomous space for a variety of collectives. We have several venues for live music, performances, soli events, a cinema, infoshop, Food not Bombs kitchen, practice and recording rooms, gyms, as well as bicycle, screenprinting, and other workshops.
In Køpi and Køpiplatz, we have spent years building up our homes, we have chosen to live in a way that defies the normal standards of apartment city life but we believe the way we live is valid. We have maintained all of this on our own without asking for a single cent from the government or any institutions. It took time and effort to create and we continue to put all our effort into maintaining and running it day by day. We won’t simply give up our way of life, built over years, for property speculations. We took an uninhabitable space and made it a vibrant living space, and we refuse to see it broken apart and left standing empty for years to come.
Køpi & Køpiplatz stay united and the fight for our home continues!