This year, the festival Offenes Neukölln ONK 2020 was dominated by the pandemic. Many events were moved to virtual space. However, there are also reports of several analog meetings.
For the past four years, the Festival Offenes Neukölln has been taking place on a weekend in early summer in the Neukölln district. The festival was founded in 2017 as a weekend of solidarity. In reaction to the series of right-wing extremist assaults in Neukölln, which flared up again in late 2016 and continues to do so, targeting people active in one way or another against forms of racism, anti-Semitism, and right-wing extremism, the organizers and the contributors dedicate themselves to a vision of Neukölln in which they would like to live, countering the assaults with their idea of an open-minded Neukölln. A Neukölln that celebrates its differences and engages in a lively, creative and solidary exchange. Berlin against Nazis has reported in detail about the festivals every year thus far: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.
The Festival offenes Neukölln was initiated by the Bündnis Neukölln, a broad alliance of unions, churches, welfare organizations, political parties, leftist initiatives and many residents who have been working together for almost ten years in a spirit of trust and on the basis of a mission statement.
This year’s call states:
With the festival, we would like to set a clear and visible signal once again: for an open and solidary Neukölln, against discrimination and right-wing violence, in solidarity with the victims of right-wing assaults, and for a society that is diverse and embraces all the people who live here. So that Neukölln remains a place where we all enjoy living and feel comfortable!
In addition to the series of right-wing extremist assaults, which are primarily directed against committed individuals, several right-wing extremist attacks on stores, left-wing cafés and spaces used by migrants have occurred in Northern Neukölln the past years. Berlin against Nazis reported on numerous solidarity campaigns. Over the years, the situation in Neukölln has not eased up.
At the beginning of August 2020, however, there is now movement in the investigations. The Berlin Attorney General’s Office has taken the cases of the right-wing extremist series of attacks. The events can be read about in the dailies tageszeitung and Tagesspiegel, among others.
Those affected by the series of assaults have strongly criticized the police’s investigative work, including a petition with 25,679 signatures in favor of setting up a committee of inquiry. For two years the Britz-based initiative BASTA has been meeting weekly in front of the Berlin LKA to demand the clarification of the right-wing extremist series of attacks in Neukölln. Senator of the Interior Geisel now speaks out in favor of the appointment of external special investigators.
Berlin against Nazis has accompanied the festival Offenes Neukölln since its inception. Already in the first year 2017 more than 80 clubs, initiatives, pubs and organizations participated and realized more than 100 events. Berlin against Nazis established contacts, made connections and gave momentum to events. The initiators were overwhelmed by the high level of interest from the population. In the following year participation increased rapidly once again and the participating organizers realized a total of over 150 events: Lectures, theater performances, concerts, guided tours, and even join-in activities for children – all in all and despite everything, a great symbol of solidarity.
At the festival Offenes Neukölln 2019 Berlin gegen Nazis was also part of the event program – in the exhibition “Raise your Voice” in the LiTE-HAUS Galerie+Projekteraum in Neukölln, where excerpts from the Berlin gegen Nazis trailer produced in 2016 and the poster campaign with Motor Kommunikation and many other partners were shown and embedded in a sound installation. “It is time to raise your voice against Nazis and racists. Because they are only a few and we are many! Berlin against Nazis also took part in a discussion event in the context of the exhibition.
This year Berlin against Nazis supported the opening with a photo shooting together with Omas gegen Rechts Berlin on the Klunkerkranich roof terrace. The restaurant is located on the top floor of Neuköllner Arcaden mall and offers a view over the rooftops of Neukölln. The photo shoot was thus at the same time a very straightforward sign of solidarity with those affected by the right-wing extremist markings of residential buildings and businesses with Nazi symbols in Neukölln’s Wildenbruchstraße happening the night of June 5. The series does not stop. In the night of June 19, another new marking occurred in the immediate vicinity. A delivery van also burned out completely.
The organizers put together an impressive program, even under the exceptional conditions of the pandemic. Most of the events were moved online. Individual program segments also took place IRL under special conditions. In Rudow, the initiative Rudow empört sich indignantly organized a walk with the title “Rudow schöner machen” beautifying Rudow by removing Nazi graffiti from the neighborhood. Berlin Against Nazis supplemented the tour with a live ticker.
Since the festival was a great success despite this year’s pandemic conditions, it is to be hoped that the organizers will continue to maintain their joint expression of a lively and open civil society in the years to come. Berlin against Nazis will continue to support those who take an active stance against right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism and will accompany and document the solidarity activities in the neighborhood. Current information can also be found on the festival’s homepage Festival Offenes Neukölln.