Newsletter 99 of 22 August 2022

1 Josef Berditchevski

On 17 August 2022, the Stadt-Anzeiger headlined its article about the story of the musician Josef Berichevski, who was shot on 3 August 2022, with “Death on notice” and in the subtitle with “the story of a failure” it refers to an interpretation that we do not share. He did not shoot himself. Shouldn’t we first and foremost speak of the failure of the police operation when its result is the death of a tenant?—das-ende-eines-gescheiterten-lebens-39881256

The day before, the Stadt-Anzeiger podcast was already announced like this: “Fatal police shooting in Ostheim: Did tenant want to die?”

Was everything done to settle the conflicts in the house in a way that would have allowed Josef Berditchevski to stay? After all, he had been released from therapy in Merheim a few days before his death and he would not have been released with the diagnosis that there was no danger of suicide if he had not cooperated. 

We must speak of the failure of the housing policy of the city of Cologne. 

It should be a matter of course to carry out an eviction of housing only if reasonable housing is available. Why is there a shortage of 80,000 flats in Cologne? Why does the city not manage to build 6,000 flats a year as decided? Why did this resolution only provide for the construction of 1,000 social housing units, although the tenants’ association spoke of the need to build at least 2,000 new social housing units annually? Because in 1990 20% of all Cologne flats were subsidised – today it is only 8%. And the trend is still downward, as long as more social housing is no longer subsidised than new housing is built. 

But not only Mr. Holecek from the Stadtanzeiger has researched and reported, but also Andy Goral from report-k.

And after Andy’s report, it is clear what all those who know the law have always known, and what we have also emphasised time and again: The right to life and physical integrity takes precedence over the right to use property. And that is why it is only logical that the Federal Constitutional Court has repeatedly intervened in evictions when the tenants’ lives are endangered by the coercive measures, e.g. because they are suicidal.

Alexander Holecek therefore also reports in the Kölner Stadtanzeiger, based on his research, that the tenant who was finally evicted, Josef Berditchewski, was suicidal, and that the eviction had already been cancelled once at the request of the guardian and the tenant had been taken to a psychiatric ward.

There, according to Alexander Holecek in the Stadtanzeiger, he was treated and released as no longer suicidal. This was allegedly the basis for the district court’s decision to carry out the eviction after all. 

When Josef threatened to kill himself again, the bailiff and the police, supposedly based on the order of the district court, thought they could disregard the ban on eviction in cases of suicidal danger because the district court refused to postpone the eviction the second time.

So it is not the Federal Constitutional Court that decides on the application of the right to life in Cologne, but the district court judge for civil matters.

The public prosecutor’s office is said to be inclined towards this legal opinion – to exonerate the officers from the charge of intentional homicide or intentional bodily harm resulting in death (they “only” wanted to shoot Josef incapacitated).

We, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the protection of life and health according to Article 2 of the Basic Law ALWAYS and IN EVERY CASE takes precedence over the right to free disposal of property and that EVERY authority and EVERY court must at EVERY TIME and in ALL MEASURES examine a violation of fundamental rights. This would have meant that the eviction would have had to be called off another time.

We are also of the opinion that the police officers who were supposed to forcibly enforce the eviction on the spot were forced into a coercive situation by their superiors, which they would not have put themselves into if they had been correctly informed about the legal situation. These officers now have to live with the fact that a person died at their hands who could still be alive if they had withdrawn and left the scene to the social psychiatric service workers who are trained to deal with such situations.

The Cologne SPD is drawing conclusions from the Berdichevski case and has put a question to the state government. It refers to the action “Forced eviction destroys lives” and fears that there will be more forced evictions and more incidents with possibly fatal outcomes in autumn.

Read the question by Lena Teschlade and Jochen Ott at MMD18-569.pdf.

2 Vigil in Sülz

A number of prominent people from Cologne’s citizenry came to the vigil against housing shortage and urban degradation in Friedrich-Engels-Straße in Sülz yesterday at the invitation of journalist and urban explainer Martin Stankowski to support the demand for the confiscation or expropriation of vacant flats for the incarceration of homeless people and refugees.

Among the celebrities were the chairman of the Cologne House and Landowners’ Association Konrad Adenauer, the chairman of the Cologne Tenants’ Association Franz-Josef Corneth, Pastor Franz Meurer from the parish of St. Elisabeth and St.Theodor in Vingst, Professor Bremer from the petition to the City of Cologne for expropriation of the houses on Campact, Kalle Gerigk and the cabaret artist Jürgen Becker.

EXPRESS and Kölner Stadtanzeiger reported:

“What are you afraid of?” Associations fire against city at vigil in front of “Russian buildings” in Cologne 

A vigil was held in front of the Russian Federation buildings in Cologne on Saturday against the vacancy of the houses.

The Russian Federation houses in Cologne continue to heat up tempers. At a vigil on Saturday (20 August), several associations and initiatives criticised the vacancy and called on the city of Cologne to take action.

Since the first demonstration in March 2021, there have already been several rallies in front of the Russian Federation houses in Sülz. On Saturday, however, the Haus- und Grundbesitzerverein with its chairman Konrad Adenauer and the Kölner Mieterverein with its head Franz-Xaver Corneth were there for the first time. Both called on the city to finally take action and seize the buildings.

Cologne: Vigil criticises city for dealing with vacant Russian Federation houses

In addition to cabaret artist Jürgen Becker, Rainer Kippe from the Sozialistische Selbsthilfe Mülheim (Socialist Self-Help Mülheim), pastor Hans Meurer, Kalle Gerigk from the initiative “Recht auf Stadt” (Right to the City) and city guide Martin Stankowski, who had initiated the vigil, Jürgen Bremer was also present.

Bremer launched a petition to expropriate the houses, which has now been signed by almost 8000 people. When the target of 10,000 signatures is reached, he wants to present the petition to Mayor Henriette Reker in the city hall.

After several vigils in Cologne and a demonstration in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin, the demonstrators and the people who support them no longer have any understanding for the city’s reticence.

Kalle Gerigk says in an interview with “Nobody dares to go there. We wonder what people are afraid of. Especially after the war of aggression by Russia, refugees or people who need a place to stay should come in here.”

Ghost houses: despite sanctions against Putin: this is why Cologne can’t expropriate Russia 

In March 2022, the city had explained in response to an enquiry from that the houses could not be confiscated because a significant part of the rooms were offices, meeting and conference rooms as well as accommodation for embassy staff. Thus, “they are not protected living space”.

Cologne activists occupied Russian Federation house – with clear message 

As long as there was no agreement with the Russian Federation, a change in the ownership situation was impossible, the city had declared.

The Stadt-Anzeiger wrote: at–prominente-demonstrieren-vor-suelzer–russenhaeusern–39889194

“The administration lacks guts” Celebrities demonstrate in front of “Russian houses” in Sülz

20.08.22, 15:19 By Stefan Rahmann A civil society alliance in Cologne could hardly be broader. The group of demonstrators in front of the so-called “Russenhäuser” (Russian houses) on Friedrich-Engels-Strasse ranged from Konrad Adenauer, chairman of the Haus- und Grundbesitzerverein, to Rainer Kippe of the Sozialistische Selbsthilfe Mülheim (Socialist Self-Help Mülheim).

The two, but also pastor Franz Meurer, cabaret artist Jürgen Becker, Franz Xaver Corneth, chairman of the Cologne Tenants’ Association, Professor Jürgen Bremer, Kalle Gerigk from “Recht auf Stadt”, SPD district representative Friedhelm Hilgers and author Martin Stankowski are pursuing the same goal. They want people to move back into the empty “Russenhäuser”. 80 flats on the side street of Berrenrath near the Stadtwald have been empty for years. 

Some for more than two decades. Nobody takes care of the buildings.
 “It is an absolute scandal,” Konrad Adenauer expressed his indignation. He thinks the flats in the former trade mission of the then USSR are very suitable for housing refugees. “According to the city administration, the flats are uninhabitable. That is why there is no misappropriation of living space here, because there is no living space,” continued Adenauer, a lawyer. “The Russians do not pay any taxes, such as property tax. The city could send a compulsory notice, subsequently register a compulsory mortgage and then foreclose on the building.
 “I have the feeling that the Cologne city administration is afraid that Putin might send a missile if we take away their houses. The administration just lacks a little bit of guts. The ‘Russian houses’ could have been wonderfully used as school buildings.”


Friedhelm Hilgers recalled an SPD motion in the district council. “Opposite the houses we have a comprehensive school. Its branch is kilometres away. The ‘Russenhäuser’ could have been wonderfully used as school buildings.” The administration probably wants to avoid “unpleasantness” first and foremost and therefore points out that the problem must be solved diplomatically. Cologne is not responsible for that. 

Kalle Gerigk took a look at the buildings during a “go in”. “A little paint and a few square metres of carpet: Then you can move in there right away. These are very good flats for refugees and homeless people. And we also say a warm welcome to all deserters.”

Professor Bremer has started an online petition for the use of the houses, which 8000 people have signed so far. “Lord Mayor Henriette Reker has refused to accept the petition. 

Maybe I’ll be allowed to hand it over to an alderman some day. But, according to Reker, without the public and even more so without the press,” Bremer reported.

Pastor Meurer also demanded decisive action from the city administration to create housing. He recalled the capitalism of the Rhineland, which has so far guaranteed a prosperous coexistence of landlords and tenants in the city.

Rainer Kippe reported on his experiences in the “Arche”, a facility for the homeless. “Women over 70 stand there with two plastic bags. This is what is left of their lives after they were evicted because they could no longer pay the rent. The AWB dispose of the rest. These evictions used to be done more considerately and humanely. Today it is done with a great callousness. The city is brutalising. And it hits the poorest first.”

Jürgen Becker called it a staircase joke of history if Ukrainian refugees were to move into the expropriated “Russian houses”. Becker sharply criticised the city administration: “The British bombed this city until nothing worked anymore. And after the war they helped us set up an administration to keep it that way.”

At the suggestion of leader Martin Stankowski, those gathered decided to jointly hand over Prof. Bremer’s Campact petition to the OB in front of the city hall.

3 For a city without drug deaths

On the housing situation of drug users and substitutes in cities

4 Worth reading

Hello, I wanted to point you to a documentary about murdered homeless people in Greifswald: “Deadly right-wing violence against homeless people in Greifswald”.

Current episode of the webdocu

More than a quarter of a million people are currently homeless in Germany. 

The experiences of exclusion, discrimination and violence shape their everyday lives. More than 580 homeless people have died as a result of violent acts in the past 30 years, according to research by the Federal Association of Homeless People – although the number due to unrecognised and unreported homicides against homeless people is significantly higher, according to estimates by counselling centres and law enforcement agencies.

Klaus-Dieter Gerecke – died on 24 June 2000 at the age of 47 -, his older brother Rainer Gerecke – died on 1 April 2000 at the age of 49 – and Eckhard Rütz – died on 25 November 2000 at the age of 42 – are among those homeless people who became victims of deadly right-wing and Social Darwinist motivated attacks at the turn of the millennium.

The three men are very much alive in the memories of their friends and companions in Greifswald.

5 programmes News

Misappropriation of housing in Cologne: 2022 half-year report available

Evictions due to fire safety deficiencies: Evicted without warning In Duisburg-Hochfeld, a cultural centre is fighting structural racism and forced evictions. These affect many Roma in particular.!5871507&s=Fabian+Schroer/

Welfare association demands 50 per cent increase in basic welfare benefits | ZDF-Morgenmagazin.

Ulrich Schneider of the DPWV demands more housing benefit. This is a neoliberal position: “highly welcome subsidy payment to the private housing industry.” (Andrej Holm)

Change in property tax: ancillary costs are not an incidental matter

Property prices are rising, but tenants are supposed to pay for the higher property tax. It would be fairer to make the owners pay.!5870711&s=Thomas+Gesterkamp/

Real insanity: Landlord charges too little rent in Munich | extra 3 | NDR

Homeless man attacked with glass bottle in Cologne

After escape: police arrest attacker (28)

Cologne FDP on the multiple cultural building disaster: “Do without the Historische Mitte”


Big money, bubbly and yachts: How Adler courted bankers The Adler Group was a small player in the real estate market until 2013. To get the big investors on board, numerous luxurious meetings were organised.

Homeless in Berlin

“Sleeping outside is an art”—draussen-schlafen-ist-eine-kunst.html?

How to survive seven years as a homeless person in Berlin – and get off the streets

Sealed-off housing in Germany

A country that belongs only to us Cameras watch the outside world, regulated driveways protect against strangers while the concierge waters the flowers: In Germany, real estate companies are increasingly advertising gated communities. What is it like to live in a gated community?

6 dates

27.08.2022, 12 p.m., Large demonstration: Expropriation instead of crisis – building a climate-just future. 

Hohenzollernring. Ende Gelände, Fridays for Future, a.o.

27.08.2022 at 3 p.m., City historian Martin Stankowski and selected vendors of the street magazine DRAUSSENSEITER will have a tete-a-tete and show that Cologne really does have a double city map. Tickets for the good cause are now available here:…

08-25.09.2022, “UPDATE NACHHALTIGKEIT” – Festival for new building culture Apollo-Hochaus / Kö 106, Königsallee 106, 40215 Düsseldorf

08.10.2022 European and nationwide day of action for a rent freeze

03.11.2022, 19 h, Masterplan against destitution? Discussion on homelessness and drug addiction. With Monika Kleine, SKF, Stefan Lehmann, Health Department, Dominik Meiering, Pfarr, Harald Rau, Head of Social Affairs.  Karl Rahner Academy, 5 € 

For a city without homelessness For a city without forced evictions For a city without drug-related deaths For a city without violence against women and children For a city without deportations For a city without poverty

21 August 2022

Klaus Jünschke and Rainer Kippe

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