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After the fall of the wall, the squatters of Berlin became an unbeatable tourist attraction. The lovers had Venice and Paris, and the young dreamers of the two worlds (of the recently collapsed Soviet bloc and of the western countries) converged in a city that was announced as a party without a master or patron, with thousands of bright houses with high ceilings and windows like stained glass. Clandestine bars and art workshops arose in the basements of the old buildings.
The chipped facades, with remnants still from World War II, became the showcase of the most suggestive libertine boom in history . Over time, the squads and the bevels of the Federal Government and all the companies and all the real estate and all the banks that dreamed of their own real estate utopia fell on the landscape of the city. They inherited the land, but Berlin's disastrous economic situation, technically bankrupt following a bank scandal in 2001 (yes, Merkel), allowed some remnants of that first wave to survive.
Tacheles is an open door to any artistic activity © Getty Images
This is the case of Tacheles, the central building built in the early twentieth century as a department store in the heart of the Jewish quarter. Later, in the 20s, under the name of Haus der Technik, it served as an exhibition center for the State Electric Company, to transform itself, under Nazi rule, into the SS headquarters and into a prison for French prisoners . After the war, it was located in the eastern part of the city, as an immense ruin to which the communist government did not finish giving concrete use. It hosted different workshops and a cinema, but in the 80s the Government began the demolition work. They began by destroying the great dome, and total destruction was planned for February 1990.
In full chaos after the fall of the wall, a group of artists occupied the building and saved it from disappearance . Since then, the Tacheles has lived in a legal vacuum, under the constant threat of eviction, among rumors, pacts, assignments, balances and doubts. In any other city, the Tacheles would have disappeared, but the mixture of tenacity of its inhabitants, and the certainty, on the part of the local authorities, that it had become a juicy tourist symbol of the city, conspired to extend its life.
The interior of Tacheles is an eternal graffiti © Corbis
Since then many Berliners observed with suspicion what they considered an imposted tourist complex . The truth, and here comes the first confession, is that despite the loss of “clandestine” purity, the traveler had the right to be impressed to see a giant warehouse half demolished in the middle of the city, cut by a giant ax, like those scenes of news events in which the rooms of a house without a wall focus after a gas explosion.
The bars were not especially cheap, and the artisans who work in the workshop looked more like a sour guardian of borders than a quaint and quaint Italian shoemaker. In the exhibitions there were posters prohibiting the photos and, when you were browsing through the corridors of the upper floors, you could cross with a neighbor of the house that “would rather not see you” . But the terrace at the rear, with its garden of sand and metal lunar rockets, and its occasional electronic music sessions, still retained an attractive taste of urban circus and camp among the ruins.
Goodbye Lenin! © DR
In 'Good Bye, Lenin', when the protagonist goes out for the first time with the Russian nurse, they go to a huge squat house and end up sitting on the ledge of a half-collapsed building, with the feet hanging in the void, sharing a joint and two bottle of Becks. With music by Yann Tiersen in the background, Daniel Brühl's voiceover is heard :
“Airs of change were blowing among the ruins of our republic. Summer arrived and Berlin was the prettiest place on the earth's layer. We had the feeling of being the center of the world, where, finally, something moved and we moved its rhythm. ”
Although the scene was not shot in Tacheles, the director was directly inspired by this squat house . And that's why Tacheles, who was evicted a week ago, deserves to stay alive. Despite its impostures, now that we have the feeling of being the center of a regression and moving backwards, the Tacheles is like that museum piece that reminds us of a fleeting time in which Berlin was a party and the world a utopia .
The artist Alexandra Wendorff creating in Tacheles © Getty Images