Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Frank Ebert


From the mid-1970s on, the area around Kollwitzplatz was the heart of the legendary Prenzlauer Berg, a district with a unique feeling. Young people from East Berlin and the rest of the GDR gravitated here, squatting vacant apartments. Their look was a symbol for their alternative way of life. 

Subcultures developed around Kollwitzplatz, including unconventional artists, opposition groups and civil rights activists. Literary readings and exhibitions were held in private apartments. 

The Theater Zinnober, set up in 1979/80, was the first and for several years the only free theatre in East Berlin. In the early 1980s local residents tried to redesign the square on their own initiative. Later, an organisation was formed to prevent the state from demolishing old buildings in the neighbourhood. 

Critics of the East German system lived here, active in opposition groups such as Women For Peace, Countervoices or the Initiative for Peace and Human Rights. In the autumn of 1989 they took part in the founding of the grassroots movements New Forum and Democracy Now. Their homes became meeting places and points of contact for the new groups, which played a key role in the 1989 revolution, influencing it from the Kollwitzplatz neighbourhood. 

The first independent childcare institution in the GDR was set up at 14, Husemannstraße in 1980. It was closed under pressure from the state in 1983.
Quelle: Die Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen DDR
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