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 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 nonprofit basis;
no one receives money for her or his work. 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 cant 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, womens liberation, internationalism,
etc. Infoshops have been established in many towns in Germany. The
state tries to smash these Infoshops with repressive methods, but
mostly without success.
- 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, its
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. Up to now they 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 cant repress
the ideas that the squat stands for. Its about a self-determined
culture and a self-determined life. Its about dreams and ideals.
Its about consequence and change, here and now.
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Autonomes Kulturzentrum, Metzgerstraße 8, D-63450 Hanau,
More infos and photos:
The Metzgerstrasse Squat
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