Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Walpurgisnacht / der 1. Mai

© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz/ Horst E. Schulze, source
The First of May has long historical roots in Germany as a real "Labor Day," celebrating organized labor and the leftist parties. During the Third Reich, it was declared an official holiday, but at the same time all labor unions were banned and workers were forced to join the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF)...so not really the same.
The picture to the left is from a celebration for the 1. May in East Berlin, 1963. Officially called: „Internationaler Kampf- und Feiertag der Werktätigen für Frieden und Sozialismus“ [international day of fighting and holiday for those working for peace and socialism].   Below are some posters for this year's May Day from various leftist political groups. As you can see, the issues today are wages (minimum wage), capitalism, and (not pictured here) the rising rent prices. The latter is the subject of a lot of graffiti in our neighborhood, and it's why the Autonomen have chosen Wedding and Friedrichshain for their 1. Mai protests.
 Kreuzberg, Berlin has its own special history with May Day. For 25 years, there has been violent fighting between protesters and police. On 1. May 1987, it started with an escalation between police and the "linke Szene" in Kreuzberg. They used tear gas and sticks against the protesters and the protesters set cars on fire, plundered shops and grocery stores, set up barricades and burned cars.

In 2003, Kreuzberg started "MyFest," a city-authorized festival in the neighborhood where they have had problems with protests. They have bands and events, with authorized protests, to try to control the violence. We're going to go in the afternoon, check out the little fest and hang out with friends. Hopefully not see any riots.

Already last night (30. April, Walpurgisnacht) things were starting to get a little wild. Last night there was one big protest in Wedding ("Anti-Kapitalistische Walpurgisnacht"), and lots of people party into the night because tomorrow is  a holiday. Lots of drunk people everywhere, and lots of police! I heard there will be 7,000 police out today! In some of these areas where there are official protests or events going on, they don't allow glass bottles, so people have to pour their drinks into plastic cups (below). Some of the local shops and banks and stores are boarding up their windows so they don't get damaged.

1 comment:

  1. Tante MargueriteMay 1, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Du müss ein Buch zu schreiben - "Das Deutschland Tagebuch"