cars on fire

After two intense weeks of cars being set on fire at night in the streets of Berlin, yesterday was calm again. Since January 2011 more than 530 cars have burnt, but the pyromaniac series has been going on for 4 years now. And there is still no clue for the actual reasons behind the incendiary crimes: youngster vandalism, cheating insurance companies or straight discontent among Berlin citizens.

Only two perpetrators have been arrested so far. However, if we take a look at the areas where they have taken place (see Brennende-Autos map above), a dozen are only to be found in the East Banlieu (Marzahn) and some dozens in the well-off neighbourhoods on the West periphery (Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf). Whereas in the central districts inside the inner ring, are to be count in hundreds. The more gentrified these neighbourhoods have become; the more social protests have broken out in the past 5 years. Collision in public space usually has a political background. Graffiti against Mieterhöhung (Rent increase) and Yuppies (specially from wealthy Southwest Germany) are to be found on many façades. Former working/ethnic districts Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauerberg and Neukölln have experienced an unprecedented rise in rents, which has forced locals to leave their affordable dwellings and move out somewhere far away.

Gentrification is still a double-edged weapon. Contingents of Turkish people among others were invited to immigrate and raise a city in ruins in past decades, but their city seems not to need them anymore. Obviously for Chancellor Merkel, multicultural society has utterly failed (Multi-Kulti hat ausgedient”). But there is rage against the machinery.

[1> Cars on Fire in Berlin 2007-2010 via Brennende-Autos] [2> by Enrico Vogler] [3-5>Cars on Fire in Berlin via der Taggespiegel Berlin] [6> by Steffen Tzscheuschner via elpais]

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