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Osterholz Forest in Wuppertal, Germany: “We are ready for the revolt” – An interview

Wuppertal. Germany. Since August 15, 2019, the Osterholz forest, a forest area on the city border of Wuppertal and Haan, is occupied. From the beginning, insurrectionary texts appeared from the occupied Osterholz. Some were translated into many languages. Since May 2021, the situation in the forest has been coming to a head. The forest has been cleared in piecemeal for decades. This time 5.5 hectares are to be cleared. In addition, a compensation measure from an earlier clearing is to be bulldozed. And all this for a waste dump of a limestone pit. The company Oetelshofen has a clearing permit and even if various lawsuits by local residents are still running, the forest threatens to be evicted and cleared at the beginning of January 2022. Activists are calling on people to come to Osterholz to defend the forest.

We had a conversation with zeros and other digits who are actively campaigning for the forest. A conversation about the state of affairs in the Osterholz forest, insurrectionalism and the climate movement. Sunzi Bingfa

Originally published by Sunzi Bingfa. Translated by Riot Turtle.

Sunzi Bingfa: The forest has been threatened with eviction and clearing from the very beginning. In recent days, the Oetelshofen lime works have made it clear that they want to push through their plan at the beginning of January 2022. What is the state of affairs?

One: The current state of affairs is that the people from Oetelshofen are allowed to evict and clear. So far they have held back, but it looks like they want to get at us in the first week of January. The citizens initiative is still in the process of legal action, but the clearing will begin before the verdict.

Zerozeroseven: There is also an appeal against the immediate enforcement at the Higher Administrative Court in Münster. However, the chance that the Higher Administrative Court will still stop the clearing is not that high and the lime works will then immediately try to set things in motion. However, we are not concerned with all the legal stuff. We think it’s great what local residents and citizens’ initiatives are doing, but we’ve never had anything to do with the legal side of things. The company Oetelshofen has already announced that they want to start clearing the land after their moratorium expires. Since it expires on December 31 and the first and second of January are weekend days, they want to start clearing on January 3, according to their logic. We call to come to the forest before the 3rd of January to defend it together, on the 2nd of January there will also be a major demonstration.

The demo will start at the station forecourt, Wuppertal-Vohwinkel train station. 02 January, 2022, 02:00 p. m. (14:00)

Sunzi Bingfa: The Oetelshofen lime works may not be a mom-and-pop store, but it’s not a huge corporation either. But their biggest customers include Thyssen/Krupp, RWE and road construction companies. You have repeatedly pointed out the connections between the lime works and other struggles. Can you tell us more about the Oetelshofen company?

Three: The Oetelshofen company, owned by the Iseke family, is not only a major player in burning coal, building roads and arms manufacturing, but also owns vast amounts of agricultural land for ages that they lease and they are also landlords of some houses, which is aggravating as well. In addition, they sat for a long time in city councils and are members of several local associations, which is why almost all decisions concerning this company are linked to nepotism.

Zerozeroseven: Sometimes I think I’m in a Monty Python movie. Only there is little to laugh about here. Until the last election period, one of the managing directors, Moritz Iseke, was the parliamentary group leader of the CDU in the Wuppertal-Vohwinkel district council. The CDU even helped the fox to keep the geese by securing him a seat on the environmental committee of the city council of Wuppertal. It is thanks to a campaign by the citizens’ initiative that he did not stand for election last year. This was probably too sensitive for the CDU and the Oetelshofen company after the connections were repeatedly discussed in local media. But it goes much further, they sit in various associations and Jörg Iskeke, one of the other managing directors, said quite proudly that he smokes pipes together with the district administrator of the county of Mettmann. It all smells of nepotism and feudal relations. However, their time is running out. These clowns have nothing to offer people, except the destruction of our basic living conditions.

Image above: Head of Department of the City of Wuppertal, Matthias Nocke (CDU), during a pro-clearing forest walk organized by the CDU on August 22, 2019.

Sunzi Bingfa: The forest was threatened with eviction and clearing from the beginning. In recent days, the Oetelshofen lime works have made it clear that they want to push through their plan at the beginning of January 2022. In January 2021, you wrote about the threat of eviction, among other things, “You sit at your desk and write your script. However, we decide the size of the playing field.” What did you mean with this sentence?

One: It’s relatively simple. Our starting position is strategically better than during the last evictions. Because the forest is located right next to a big city, our playground and city politics have influenced the clearing and that the forest will be destroyed. We will paralyze important infrastructure points to push the costs through the roof, the Invisible Committee sends its regards. The police is a little in the dark and does not know yet into what it got involved, alone its ridiculous exercises at the elevated railway show this… As if we stop an important public transport line which only drives people from A to B, or perhaps we nevertheless do that? But we promise one thing, it will be exciting. However, it remains to be seen how much support we will get from outside, since the solidarity will be concentrated on the spectacle in Rhineland, which can also be cleared from the first week of January. In addition, there will be the new protest prevention law that will pass state parliament in the next few weeks. In the end, everything remains open and we are prepared to work with what we have at our disposal.

Zerozeroseven: The cops are probably writing scripts for their eviction operation at the moment. But if they think that it is enough to seal off the access roads to the forest and then evict and clear the forest in silence, they have misjudged the situation. Due to the connections of the Oetelshofen company with RWE, Thyssen-Krupp and the fact that they deliver the most of their lime to road construction companies, there are targets everywhere. The city council has voted with a large majority for a recommendation to the district government of Düsseldorf to clear the forest. This means that the city of Wuppertal is also jointly responsible for any possible clearing. So the city must also expect all sorts of things. The nice PR show of the mayor of Wuppertal, Uwe Schneidewind, with his round table does not change anything. What remains is that the city council has made a recommendation for to clear the forest. And all this in a city of which the German weather service says in a report that the temperature in Wuppertal has already risen by 1.4 degrees and that no more green spaces should disappear. Instead, the German weather service says in the report that green spaces must be added to slow down the temperature increase on a local level. In a sense, the resistance against the planned clearings in Osterholz is a kind of self-defense. And not everyone defends themselves with only a cardboard sign and a whistle. It should be clear to the responsible persons in the city, by voting for clearing two years ago with their recommendation, they have also voted for an escalation. With eviction and clearing their desire will be fulfilled. The citizens’ initiative has proposed some alternative solutions for the excavation material of the Oetelshofen company. There were some well elaborated proposals. The clearing is not about lime mining, it is only about the waste of the Oetelshofen company. If in 2022 still forest areas are destroyed, because it is cheaper for a private company to store their waste there, then this shows that nothing was learned and if a city recommends to the district government to issue a permission for such a clearing, then this is like a declaration of war to younger generations. The responsible persons of Oetelshofen and the city of Wuppertal, but also the district administrator in the county of Mettmann, should not fool themselves. They have declared war on the younger generation.

Video above: Lützerath Stays! Osterholz Stays! – Projection on the Pina Bausch Center on December 10, 2021, in Wuppertal (Germany).

Sunzi Bingfa: A few weeks ago, COP 26 took place. In December 2019, after Cop 25, you wrote: “After Cop 25 and the stimulus package: stop appealing to those in charge! What we need is a revolt!” The climate movement often gets stuck in left-liberal demands to the responsible politicians and captains of industry. Why do people believe that those who are responsible for the climate crisis are the same ones who will fight the climate crisis?

Two: I think many people in the climate movement have not been in a resisting movement for long and still have at least one leg in the bourgeois middle. Therefore, there is still a residual trust in the state and politicians. However, I have the feeling that the climate movement in particular is undergoing one of the fastest radicalizations I have ever witnessed.

January 3: Many people are radicalizing at the moment. They see both at the local level and at the federal level that even the Greens will not fix it. We are not surprised, but many new activists thought that the Greens would change a lot. Here in Wuppertal, everyone now sees that apart from livestreams on Instagram and a permanent PR machine, not much has changed. A nice neologism here, a bit of cosmetics there, but the bottom line is that not much is happening. The new German government have already shown that not much can be expected from their climate policies. That was already clear to us before the election, but more and more people are becoming aware of it. It is no surprise, the Greens stand for capitalism with a green touch. The capitalist laws of never-ending growth are at odds with a consistent environmental policy. The Greens are part of the problem and not part of the solution. Although we demand that the deforestation in Osterholz must be stopped, we do not expect anything from any politicians or companies. A consistent environmental policy has to be forced, not begged for.

Sunzi Bingfa: On November 26, 2019, a text appeared from the forest with the title: “They want to escalate, but they don’t know that the coming revolt will change everything!” In the text it is made clear that you consider the struggle for the Osterholz forest as a phase in the struggle against the current dominant conditions. Can you specify this?

May: It is easier said than done to specify it, because in the last 2 years many have come and gone, so I try to express what it means to me. I would say that the confrontation is inevitable. The time will come when it will be clear to everyone who is responsible for the whole mess. The struggles are already spreading all over the world and the addressees are almost the same everywhere. In the end it is clear that the rulers will lose. We have nothing to lose and the attempts of the rulers to intimidate us are ridiculous. They are so aimless that they have not understood that we as radical leftists and other subversive subjects of the left have become almost irrelevant, and that they really should be scared of the youth and the proletarian kids. They will take what is rightfully theirs, whether we like it or not. The question is only how we relate to it. In the past 2 years I saw things that made me pessimistic for the left and its positioning. You will see me with the proletarian kids, I no longer believe in the left and their moral compass.
We never assumed that we would win the struggle here in the forest, but no one can take the experience away from us anymore and it is important to spread it further. Just like the network of accomplices. It is unbeatable. Let’s see what the future brings.

Zerozeroseven: Of course, the struggle for the forest is only one step. If we manage to win this battle, the climate crisis will not be solved. The extinction of species will also continue, even if this forest remains untouched. But even if the forest is cleared, this struggle is still important. We have gained a lot of experience and learned how to work together with many local residents. We came out of our bubble, so to speak, and that alone was very important and instructive for us. The dominating conditions are responsible for the climate crisis and in order to do something about the climate crisis we will have to overcome the whole thing, both economically and politically. No matter if we talk about jobs, or environmental destruction because of economic “necessities”, it always becomes clear that it is a system issue, and this issue cannot be solved within this system. The climate crisis is only one of the problems. At the external borders of the EU you can see the inhuman grimace of the Empire. When it comes down to it, human rights are shat upon. This is not an exception, but a daily routine. It is just more visible at the external borders of the EU. Within the EU, procedures such as racial profiling are a daily practice. This may not be visible to many people from the so-called middle of society, but the rage of those affected will eventually be unleashed on the streets. If you have a nice house, for example, a lockdown is perhaps bearable, I can’t judge that, but if you are locked up with many people in a too cramped apartment by lockdowns and curfews and again and again you are confronted with racial profilling checks outside, then the whole thing will explode at a certain point. At some point, we’re going to see that in this country, too. We are ready for the revolt.

Image above: Speech by Every Tree Counts at a demonstration for the preservation of the Osterholz forest on June 12, 2021.

Sunzi Bingfa: In Desert, among other things, the sentence “the world will not be ‘saved” is written. This realization hurts people. They don’t want to believe it! However, it is probably so.” How do you understand this widely discussed text?

Zero: Desert is a heavy thing, it destroys dreams and hits you in the face first. It tells you that mankind has driven the whole thing against the wall. We are not saved and above all: by whom? By the rulers? By the people who are afraid of not being able to drive a car anymore? The question is what you make of it. Of course I can bemoan the state and say… please save me. It will not, that’s a fact. It will tell us to pull ourselves together and go to work you piece of dirt, you are no more than a pawn for our economy. I can wait for a beach at Dortmund until they act like they want to do something. They build up a cop apparatus like in Greece only that here it is also heavily armed like an army. Many imagine the shit as if we would get an Armageddon. No, it won’t be like that, no Mad Max or anything, but it would be cool if it was. The text disillusioned and freed thereby, because above all it builds new perspectives.

Image above: Banners of local residents at the edge of the Osterholz forest.

Sunzi Bingfa: At the beginning of January 2022, the Oetelshofen lime works in Osterholz are keen to evict and clear. How can people get involved in the struggle for the forest?

One: Come over, sabotage & disrupt the process of eviction whether in the forest or in the city. Otherwise, make it a big issue, draw attention and block everything. By everything we mean no less than EVERYTHING. Highways, rail roads, traffic circles, schools, universities, businesses…everything.
Thank you for allowing us to use you as a mouthpiece, see you at the barricades.

SMS ALARM CHAIN

Send your cell phone number to jeder-baum-zaehlt@riseup.net if you would like to receive an alert SMS in case of eviction or clearing.

You can find the Every Tree Counts (Jeder Baum Zählt) occupation in the Osterholz Forest in Wuppertal-Vohwinkel / Haan-Gruiten here:


Größere Karte anzeigen

https://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=51.2342&mlon=7.0420#map=16/51.2342/7.0420

More information:

Citizens Initiative: https://osterholzbleibt.org/

Every Tree Counts (Jeder Baum Zählt): https://jederbaumzaehlt.noblogs.org/


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