I ran around for hours wearing a gas mask to maintain some kind of communication between the houses, ”Bastian Krondorfer remembers on the morning hours of November 14, 1990. Pünktchen is certain that she“ put out some hand grenades ”. Nancy says: “I wasn’t involved in the riots myself.”
The evacuation of the 13 occupied houses on Mainzer Strasse in Berlin-Friedrichshain, which was carried out with brutal police violence that Wednesday 30 years ago, is still present in the memory of the radical left. In the summer of 1990 alone, the eastern part of Berlin counted almost 130 squats. The fact that of all these projects, Mainzer Straße in particular, is remembered is primarily due to its clearance.
Thousands of police officers, several special operations units, several water cannons, clearing tanks and helicopters, plus stun grenades and rubber bullets: the former West Berlin Senator for the Interior Erich Pätzold (SPD), whose police had taken command in the east of the city at the beginning of October, let himself be in his fight against the approximately 200 Squatters don’t slouch. At the end of the six and a half hour police operation, shortly before 1 p.m., Mainzer Strasse looked like a field of rubble, and the police were able to report: “Handing over the houses to those responsible”. This included the house at Mainzer Straße 4, the home of Bastian Krondorfer, Pünktchen, Nancy and a good 30 other gay autonomists and punks – the Tuntenhaus.
30 years later, Krondorfer, Pünktchen and Nancy meet for “nd” due to corona at an online conference. «We were in our mid-twenties and a big number in the occupation scene. Nothing went without Mainzer Strasse, and nothing in Mainzer Strasse without us, the Tuntenhaus, ”says Krondorfer, knowing full well that that sounds“ a bit arrogant ”.
There was no squatting group where someone from the queer house wasn’t on board. «We weren’t the shrill queens with the shrill parties. Okay, we were, too, ”says Krondorfer, who now works in the health sector. “But we had our fingers in everywhere and probably did a lot more for the movement as a whole than for our gay and lesbian particular interests.”
Now memories can be deceptive. Even Krondorfer, who thinks he can remember a lot, admits with a view to the day of the eviction: “I don’t remember exactly anymore, it was like a movie.” Opinions also differ about the condition of the house. “The side wing was not habitable,” says Pünktchen. “All rooms were habitable,” intervened Krondorfer. “There was pigeon droppings at the top. You couldn’t go in there. But we made up most of the rooms somehow, ”explains Nancy.
Beyond these detailed questions, the three of which are still joking about answering them correctly – “Yes”, “No”, “Yes” – Nancy and Pünktchen agree with their ex-co-occupier Krondorfer regarding the importance of the Tuntenhaus for Mainzer Straße. For example, negotiations with the Senate took place in the run-up to the eviction in house number 4, the radical left-wing communications center. The GDR civil rights activist Bärbel Bohley sat around in the kitchen of the Tuntenhaus and tried to mediate, as did Renate Künast from the Greens. “Yes, where else?” Say the three.
“We were avant-garde when it came to politics,” says Nancy, now a project manager in a volunteer agency. “These different levels of radicalism” were important to her. The overall appearance as left-wing extremists was therefore also to be understood as a double declaration of war: to the males in their own occupation scene and to the bourgeois homos in the gay scene. Nancy went on to say that you would have simply “poked fun at” everything and everyone, “and that so mercilessly that you laughed out loud.” The fact that the Tuntenhaus received a lot of attention at the time is also connected with the fact that “the political queen was something completely unfamiliar to many”. Men in women’s clothes, made up and decked out, all of this not only emphasized punk, but also anti-racist and anti-capitalist – that was provocative. “And we were extremely provocative,” says Nancy. Some of them always showed up at the occupier meetings “in the fumble”. “We used to pinch the straight men in the ass on a regular basis. Dot, you will remember! ” Pünktchen laughs.
Almost all of the house residents had previously lived in West Berlin, like Krondorfer and Pünktchen mainly in Kreuzberg. On May 1st, the day of the occupation, most of them had “crossed over” into the eastern part of the city, namely Mainzer Strasse. For many residents of the east, the squatters in general and the queens in particular were one thing above all else: crazy westerners. The mood? Sometimes friendly, sometimes disinterested, sometimes hostile. “You looked at each other with the other side,” reports Pünktchen. There were long-time residents, “they came by, stood there and looked at the street.”
Nancy, who was originally from Friedrichshain, soon looked too. Just different. «I thought to myself: Hey, I’ll go and have a look! And already I was at the plenary session. ” She was deeply impressed “by these autonomous, queer and gays” who were so radical. “When I said that I liked this lawless state, everyone thought it was great – and I moved in.” She was thus one of the few eastern queens.
These plenaries in general. For Bastian Krondorfer, half the year was one long plenary session. “I don’t mean that in a negative way. We often held plenary sessions with 30 people. That was good because it was about something. ” The defense of the street against neo-Nazi attacks played a role again and again, adds Nancy. The foghorn finally went off at a plenary session. «That was called the Nazi alarm. I was new to the house then and expected everyone to crawl under the table. But then a couple of guys peeled off their leather jackets, took clubs and headed for the door. I was blown away.” Krondorfer: “I wasn’t wearing a leather jacket, but a bomber jacket.” Nancy: “Then it was a bomber jacket.”
The neo-Nazis stopped their attacks “sometime in the summer,” says Krondorfer. Around the same time, West Berlin housing associations took control of the East Berlin municipal housing authorities, including the one responsible for Mainzer Straße. The days of the occupiers were numbered from now on. The western administrators had just as little interest in signing contracts and legalizing the occupations, as a large part of the autonomous people, even if, at least in the kitchen of the queer house, negotiated. Until the eviction. “I was only able to save a bag full of clothes,” remembers Pünktchen on November 14, 1990. “We were deeply traumatized for years afterwards,” says the make-up artist and performance actress.
Some residents moved into a “new” Tuntenhaus on Kastanienallee in Prenzlauer Berg, some withdrew. And today? What remains, says Nancy, is the realization “that from the edge, from a doubly delimited position, one can make radical politics and shape things. That shapes. “