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#203: Evicted by thugs, rents up (again), tourism up (again), more Ausländer (again)
And the world clock was off but no one noticed
Hey 22.2 Percent (see factoid)!
Berlin Briefing, a near-daily podcast of Berlin news, said this week it’s going on an “indefinite hiatus” because the voice behind the podcast — Abby — went back to school. I’ve admired their work ethic and ability to consistently put out the podcast over the past six years — trying to get any kind of content out regularly is a major headache.
They were a key component to English-language news in Berlin so they’ll be dearly missed and we appreciate the shout out in their good-bye episode. All the best!
Speaking of putting content out regularly — one of the biggest surprises for me as an American when I moved to Europe, generally, and Germany, specifically, was the month of August. No one expects anything to get done in August as everyone heads off to other parts of Europe where, presumably, the locals also don’t expect to get anything done other than tourism. It’s known in news circles as the Sommerloch, or summer hole. I know, let’s not go there.
And because of that there is a dearth of news. Today we’ve fallen back on the old standby, because the German publications we draw on have fallen back on that standby — statistics. Last issue we fell back on the other standby, crime, and I’ve added a note to our Postkutsche reader mail section as a result.
As always, have a good weekend!
If you’re bored during the Sommerloch, spending money can help! Like, spend some money on 20 Percent by donating on our Patreon or by buying a 20 Percent coffee mug! And please also visit our sponsor, Ironhack, who’ve got a park yoga networking event coming up!
No Sommerloch for landlords
An ongoing tussle between the owner of a building in Mitte, the local government and the building’s owner reached a zenith on Wednesday when about 20 construction workers and security guards showed up to evict residents of Habersaathstraße 42 to 48, according to taz. Residents were ushered out and workers began to remove windows and destroy bathroom furnishings to make the building uninhabitable. Water and electricity were also cut off — even to the 12 units with a lease. Many of the building’s units stood empty — but furnished — for years as the owner fought a legal battle against Mitte to tear it down and build luxury flats (his plans are reportedly illegal). Squatters eventually moved in and Mitte negotiated a peace agreement between the new residents and the owner. But the owner now claims Mitte never paid the Nebenkosten as promised so he resorted to vigilantism, which feels … illegal. The residents and windows are back in. For now.
The Sommerloch is also tourist season
The Berlin tourist industry has nearly — but not entirely — recovered from corona: 5.7 million people visited Berlin in the first six months of 2023, just 14% below the first six months of record-setting 2019, according to the Morgenpost. Most of the visitors were from the no-longer-EU United Kingdom followed by tourists from the Netherlands and Poland. Italy and Spain had previously been the most popular source of tourists for Berlin but pre-corona direct flights from the countries have yet to be reinstated. Foreign tourists spend an average €209 per day and stay an average of 2.8 days in Berlin, at least one of which is spent attempting (and failing) to get into Berghain.
No Sommerloch for landlords part 2
Average rents for new leases in Berlin jumped 9.5% in the second quarter, according to Tagesspiegel, the highest increase among Germany’s seven major cities and above the average 6.2% increase. The increase is despite a 3.6% decline in the average price for buying a place in Berlin in the second quarter — the smallest price fall among German big cities.
Some day we’re going to have to update our name but at this point it’s like trying to catch a rocket shooting space-ward — the percent of Berliners without a German passport rose again last year to 22.2%, according to the Berlin-Brandenburg stats office. The single percentage point jump over 2021 is thanks in part to Ukrainian refugees (last year it was Indian immigration that bumped us up to 21%). Some 3.8 million people lived in Berlin last year, including the 834,349 in the 22.2% — that’s 92,318 more foreigners than at the end of 2021. Welcome!
Last issue we reported on a host of crime and violence issues in the city and a reader wrote in to say: “Wanted to point out that reporting so many crimes etc is perhaps counterproductive since the underlying crime rates have likely gotten better in the last few years, yet such reporting might suggest otherwise.”
And they’re right! Berlin cops say the crime rate in Berlin is currently about level with pre-corona 2018 and 2018 with 14,135 crimes committed in 2022 per 100,000 residents. Crime stats are difficult because of the Covid-related dips but there’s no upward trend.
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