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Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg were separate boroughs until unified in the administrative reform of 2001. Before the Berlin Wall fell, the boroughs belonged to two different cities: Friedrichshain was in East, Kreuzberg in West Berlin. In Friedrichshain, the “workers’ borough”, during the GDR’s final years a niche for youth-based counterculture emerged. Situated at the borders of Mitte, Friedrichshain and Treptow, Kreuzberg was locked in on three sides by the Wall. This juxtaposition encouraged the development of an alternative lifestyle and several social movements.
Today one borough, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg are seen as a meeting place for young and creative types. Those aged between 20 and 35 represent the borough’s largest demographic group. Berlin’s smallest borough by area is also a top choice for non-German EU citizens, who represent 10% of its population.
The Greens are the largest party with 22 seats and also provide the borough’s mayor, Monika Hermann. The SPD (Social Democrats) are next with 13 seats, the Left Party with 7, the Pirates have 5 the CDU (Christian Democrats) 4.
On 18 September 2016, all EU-citizens have the opportunity to vote for the district assembly. You can find out here what it is all about and how it works in six different languages.
On 18 March 1848, thousands of Berliners gathered at Schlossplatz to thank the King for his response to the Demands of March (press freedom, human rights, national statehood, etc.). A riot began in which two shots were fired. In a matter of hours, 200 barricades were erected across the city. The subsequent street battles cost the lives of 183 people. The Friedhof der Märzgefallenen (Graveyard of the March Fallen) is in Friedrichshain’s public park.
“Prinzessinenbad” is a documentary about three 15-year-old girls from Kreuzberg who, navigating between boys, drugs and friendship, find their own winding ways towards adulthood. One of the film’s lines, “Ich komm’ aus Kreuzberg, du Muschi” (“I come from Kreuzberg, you twat”) has become famous.
In GDR times, Karl-Marx-Allee was called Stalinallee and was the flagship boulevard of the nation’s capital city. Its buildings housed high-ranking officials and “deserving workers” in true Soviet style. Kino International, Café Moskau and Café Sibylle are still meeting places for East Berliners today.
An unusual attraction
The Museum der Dinge (Museum of Things) might surprise a few people. Hidden on the third floor of a factory on Orianienstraße is a collection of unique but everyday items whose origins cover German history from the beginning of the 20th century. A must for design and history enthusiasts!
Which is your favourite place in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg? What could the borough do better, how should it change? Your comments are part of the political discussion leading up to the BVV (local) election!