Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wagenburgler News

Wagenburglers are people who have decided to live in caravans, old buses, and trailers. It is the characteristic to the Freiburg scene that they do not move around but rather like to occupy sites within the city boundary parking their "wheel estates" permanently. From July until September 2011 Red Baron wrote five blogs about Freiburg's Wagenburglers introducing those who at that time occupied the entrance to Freiburg's green suburb Vauban. I described their protests against an ultimatum the city had set to clear the site, the dramatic cleaning operation by the police, the sequels of their eviction, and their last gasps.

Although one of my blogs was titled Wagenburgers' End, when the police had eventually cleaned an illegally occupied site, it was clear that those who had been driven out would be looking for other plots of land to place their mobile homes.

Freiburg presently has three sites for Wagenburlers called Biohum, Eselwinkel, and Schattenparkerplatz with a total of 96 positions. They are all occupied. Private and official efforts to find additional permanent space for a group of 14 Wagenburglers called Sand im Getriebe (sand in the transmission) were not successful. Between July 2013 and the beginning of April 2014 their vehicles had been tolerated on a plot belonging to the P├Ądagogische Hochschule (PH or university for the formation of school teachers).

March 2014: Sand im Getriebe at the PH premises
However, with spring approaching the agreement with the director of the PH came to terms and the Wagenburglers found themselves not on the road but on the city streets again. Although they moved around quite a bit on several occasions they occupied parking space along public streets illegally for more than 24 hours. Eventually on April 14, the police sent towing services and confiscated the Sand im Getriebe vehicles. The city authorities may withhold them for periods up to six months.

April 14: Confiscating Sand im Getriebe's vehicles
On July 24, Mayor Dieter Salomon offered to Sand im Getriebe a plot of land near the Schattenparkerplatz  but they considered 400 square meters being to small for their gear. Red Baron too regards a plot of 20 meters times 20 meters as being marginal to squeeze in a good dozen of vehicles. Did Sand im Getriebe feel aggressed by the Mayor's offer?

It still came as a surprise when on the morning of July 26, and without any warning 150 persons occupied the site in Freiburg's suburb Hochdorf where the city had stored eleven of the confiscated vehicles belonging to Sand im Getriebe. The occupants declared their solidarity with their brothers in wheels and protested against the, what they called,  the illegal confiscation of April 14. The city considered the occupation of the Hochdorf site as trespassing and compulsion and called in the police. They cleared the place in the late evening. Ninety people involved in the occupation will face court action.

July 26: Occupation of the Hochdorf site and banners with mixed language:
Living in trailers is not a crime, stealing of our vehicles is.
July 26: Asking for more space for vehicles, everywhere.
Yesterday on July 27, a couple of Wagenburglers went downtown occupying the Rathaus square with their vehicles for a few of hours accusing the Freiburg authorities of a gezielte Hetze (incited propaganda) against alternative forms of living.

July 27: In front of the Rathaus: We are asking for a dialogue on equal terms.
Space for Wagenburglers is congenial to Freiburg.
All photos are ©Badische Zeitung
Freiburg is back to square one with its Wagenburglers.

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