Photo Gallery End of an Era as Berlin Art Center Tacheles is Cleared

The bailiffs moved in on Tuesday to clear Tacheles, a derelict artists' squat that was a major tourist attraction. Graffiti-smeared and bomb-damaged, the building gave visitors a taste of those chaotic, heady days of freedom and opportunity Berlin enjoyed after the Wall fell.
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The police came at 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning to help bailiffs carry out a court order to clear Tacheles, the artists' squat that had been a major tourist attraction since shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Foto: dapd
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The closure followed years of legal wrangling. Demonstrators gathered outside to protest against the clearance, but there was no violence.

Foto: Theo Schneider / Demotix
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The 40 to 60 artists who had been squatting there staged a peaceful demonstration, aided by supporters.

Foto: Theo Schneider / Demotix
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Bailiff Olaf Schmalbein (right), standing alongside Markus Fränkle who represented the artists, oversaw the closure and had the rooms sealed off.

Foto: Marc Tirl/ dpa
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Tacheles spokesman Martin Reiter (center) described the clearance as "art theft with police protection."

Foto: Marc Tirl/ dpa
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Some 80 people protested against the clearance of the famous art center. For years, Tacheles was a firm fixture on tourist itineraries. It exuded an almost nostalgic atmosphere of Berlin immediately after the fall of the Wall. Visitors came here to get a taste of Berlin in those carefree, anything-goes days.

Foto: Theo Schneider / Demotix
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Tacheles artists held up their creations during the demonstration. The derelict building was occupied by artists in the winter of 1989/90, weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They saved it from being demolished.

Foto: dapd
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Bulldozers had already begun clearing the land around Tacheles last year.

Foto: Schuh, Florian/ dpa
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Tacheles is the last remaining part of a department store complex built at the beginning of the 20th century. It was heavily damaged by aerial bombs in World War II and under communism, the East Berlin city authority had much of it torn down in the 1980s.

Foto: dapd
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The city has ordered that part of the site should still continue to be put to cultural use.

Foto: Schuh, Florian/ dpa
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But what kind of art and culture will it be? Will it be used for mainstream events or will it retain some of its trashy charm?

Foto: dapd
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The current owner, HSH Nordbank, plans to find an investor for the site. The city is rapidly becoming gentrified, properties are being refurbished, rents are going up, and nightclubs are having to close because new well-to-do residents are complaining about the noise.

Foto: dapd