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Squat
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THE SQUATED AUTONOMOUS CULTURE CENTER
METZGERSTRASSE / HANAU

In December 1986 some people in Hanau (Germany) decided to squat a house that had been empty for a long time, Metzgerstraße 8. They restored it and filled this free space with a new life.

Soon it became an ’Autonomous Culture-Center’ for the people and by the people, and also a focal point for a solidaric projects and for the resistance against ruling systems in all their repressive forms. The center has had a long history of attempts to establish a self-determined culture-center in Hanau, although it has always been repressed by the local city council.

The basic forum of the center is the ”squatter meeting,” which is open to everyone who has an interest in the squat as a counter-cultural free space. Decisions are made on the consent principle, which means that they try to find a decision that can be supported by everyone. Many activists in the squat, but not all, describe themselves as members of the autonomy movement, which connects anarchist, communist and feminist ideas.

At the moment there are a lot of projects, groups, and events that take place in the center. Everything is done on a do-it-yourself and nonprofit basis; no one receives money for her or his work. Solidarity, trust and self-determination are the basis for all work. Here are some examples:

- The ’Infoladen’ (Infoshop): The Infoshop is an opportunity to get information that can’t be found in the normal bourgeois media. There are a lot of autonomous, left radical and feminist leaflets, brochures and newspapers available. There is also a small media center and an archive that includes material on topics like anti-fascism, atomic politics, women’s liberation, internationalism, etc.

- The ’Volxküche’ (Peoples Kitchen): Frequently people from the community cook a vegetarian meal that is available for a small price. The idea behind this is to overcome isolation between people and the patriarchal roles typical in the kitchen, and, of course, to provide a good tasting meal for many people.

- The Concerts: Concerts in the center are organized, and absolutely dedicated to the principle of working in a self-determined way without a manager, an agency, or even a contract. The bands that play in the squat should have a mutual relation to the ideas of the center. There are no musical limits: Local punk bands have played there as well as jazz bands from North-America and Avantguarde projects from Eastern Europe. Some of the performances have been released on tapes and records.

In a way, the things that happen between the people in the center are more important than the events: changes in behavior, opportunities to live together without hierarchical structures, and new ways of relating. Although the squat is like an island in some ways, it’s far from a concrete utopia. Problems in interpersonal relations exist, as well as differences between ideals and real behaviour.

If people want to go alternative ways, the authorities try to stop them. In Hanau the local city council has said for a long time that none of the things the squatters do and organize represent culture. They decided in parliament that the center was to be closed and torn down without an alternative. In place of the squat, they planned to build five parking places. A decision that is very symbolic and characteristic. Certainly, the real aim was to destroy the ideas and the structures this center stands for.

The answer of the supporters of the Autonomous Culture-Center was the squatting of the parliament of the city. The politicians went out of the building and the squatters voted for the continuation of the center.

Up to now the authorities have not been able to realize their plans for various reasons. On the one hand there are many people who support the squat. There are also legal difficulties around closing it, and they are afraid of the resistance and activities that could take place after closing the squat.

But even if they evict the center, they can’t repress the ideas that the squat stands for. It’s about a self-determined culture and a self-determined life. It’s about dreams and ideals. It’s about consequence and change, here and now.

(Wolfgang Sterneck)

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DAS BESETZTE AUTONOME KULTURZENTRUM
LINKS - INFOS - PHOTOS

- Das besetzte Autonome Kulturzentrum (Kurzdarstellung)
- Freiräume entwickeln - Das besetzte Autonome Kulturzentrum
(Ausführliche Darstellung 2003)
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The Squat - The Autonomous Culture Center (Englsh Info)

- Autonomes Kulturzentrum Hanau (Webpage)
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Autonomes Kulturzentrum Hanau (Facebook)
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Autonomes Kulturzentrum Hanau (MySpace)
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Autonomes Kulturzentrum Hanau (Doku+Fotos-Sets)

- Benefiz-Projekt von John Cage und Sterneck / KomistA für das Kulturzentrum
- Project of John Cage and Sterneck / KomistA in benefit of the Culture Center

Autonomes Kulturzentrum, Metzgerstrasse 8, D-63450 Hanau, Germany.