Tacheles: Berlin


Welcome to Tacheles (pronounced Ta-he-les) the infamous art commune in Oranienburger Straße, Berlin, a district just west of the center of the city. The building is a massive 100,000 square feet, a size that had real estate developers drooling over the potential revenue that new construction could pull in. Originally created as a shopping mecca complete with an arcade in 1907, the building was used by the Nazi’s during WWII which in turn left the structure heavily damaged from bombings. In 1948 Free German Trade Union Federation moved in, followed by a technical school, an art school, and a travel agency, all oh whom helped repair the passages inside the compound to make it remotely  habitable. Tacheles was set to be demolished in 1969, 1977, and 1980, and while part of it was removed in 1980, the full wrecking was ultimately set for 1990. However, a group of artists from both East and West Berlin occupied the space and fought for 22 years to stay, but sadly they lost the battle in September 2012, just two months after I visited. It’s the classic tale of prioritizing money over culture, destroying what some would consider a historical landmark while others think of as an eyesore. At the end of the day it does fall into the hands of the owner, but it’s a shame that such an avant-garde social center, riddled with a fervent past of politics, culture, and social reform will eventually be taken down for what one can one assume will be over-priced, under designed condominiums. So it goes.


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