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Düsseldorf, Kiefernstrasse - core competency resistance

The unexpected often happens.  Or how a tip from a colleague turned into a passion.

Since a young colleague was sufficiently aware of my passion for photography, I got the tip in spring 21 to take a look at the colorful street in Flingern-Süd. She also had a photo ready, a rainbow house. Well, as so often, I had my camera with me, the street is not far from the office and so I spontaneously drove to Kiefernstrasse on April 1st, 2021. Dort angekommen war ich ziemlich    geflasht    von  of multiplicity,

Kiefernstraße - Kernkompetenz Widerstand ©Samara Blue

the color and the multitude of "colorful houses". With what felt like 1001 pictures in my luggage, I came home quite late that working day. But it was worth it. It all started with that first picture. A lot of supposedly special little things only struck me when I was editing the pictures on the PC. But who designed these houses so beautifully and why? Most houses

Little by little, I delved deeper into the turbulent history of the Kiefernstraße to find out that there is much more to it than just a few "colorful houses". However, one by one...

Two special streets in Düsseldorf are also making a name for themselves beyond the city limits. The  feudal shopping mile Königallee and, so to speak, as an alternative to it,  the Kiefernstraße in the Flingern-Süd district, known among other things as the street of artists. The Kiefernstraße owes its degree of fame to the squatting in the 1980s and to its tireless resistance to the modern urban development plans of the city of Düsseldorf. Former squatters still live there today in regular tenancies. In the mid-1980s, Kiefernstrasse was associated with the RAF. Her eventful history coupled with her alternative way of life and her inflexibility towards the city administration give her and the residents of Kiefernstraße a special value. Even beyond the residential area, people identify with life and living in the Kiefernstrasse. This first information taken from "Doc Google" also makes a more intensive look at the entire history of the street extremely interesting for me as a "non-Düsseldorfer".

Location:  Located on the edge of Flingern-Süd, Kiefernstraße borders on Oberbilk. With the commercial areas and disused industrial plants all around, the Kiefernstraße looks like an island of residential development. Separated from other residential areas by 2 main roads, this street is an approx. 380 m long microcosm in which approx. 800 residents from up to 45 nationalities and the most diverse social affiliations have found a home.

In the 19th century With industrialisation, the railway was also introduced in Düsseldorf, an important new means of transport. The first section connected the district of Gerresheim with the former main station at Graf-Adolf-Platz. The route crossed the Erkrather Straße and led over the Kiefernstraße. This was the first railway line in West Germany, the "Düsseldorf-Elberfelder Eisenbahn", which went into operation in 1838. The lower part of today's Kiefernstraße was then called Pfeilstraße.

Around 1900 Connected the Kiefernstraße, which at that time was still called Ruhrtalstraße, the municipal gas works with the boiler forges, rolling mills and wire drawing works on Fichtenstraße and in Oberbilk. The Kiefernstrasse was inaugurated on September 30, 1902 to create modern living space close to work. Gradually, the development of company apartments followed. From 1908, the then Cologne company Kaiserstein AG built exemplary small apartments in the middle of the industrial conurbation with around 40,000 workers under the direction of the Düsseldorf architects Rudolf Wilhelm Verheyen and Julius Stobbe  21. The housing, built from a social point of view, should contribute to improving the social situation of the workers and their families . These were properties belonging to the operator of the neighboring boilermaker, Jacque Piedboeuf. Between 1908 and 1910 the houses Kiefern 1 - 37 and Kiefern 6 - 12 were built. The three houses Kiefern 14 - 18 were built by the "Düsseldorfer Bau- und Sparverein" at about the same time under the direction of the architect Fritz Hofmeister.

But what exactly do these new social housing units mean? What made them so new and desirable for workers?

The building description by the architect Verheyen provides information here. Among other things, he described the need for workers to have housing close to their place of work. Where many people are accommodated in a small space, it is all the more important to consider well thought-out logistics. As an absolute novelty, bathing facilities were made available in the administration buildings. In the basement, showers and tubs were installed in small, closed cells that were available to the tenants for little money. For example, a shower bath cost 5 pfennigs and a bath 10 pfennigs. A caretaker was hired for care and maintenance. Some of the self-contained apartment units had a separate toilet, which was usually behind the apartment entrance. As revolutionary as the new type of housing was, not all apartments had their own toilet. In many houses, several tenants shared a toilet, which was usually located halfway up the stairwell. Obviously not much has changed in this situation to this day. 

Such an administration house (probably the Düsseldorf company Eisen- und Drahtindustrie) may like the Badehaus in the Kiefernstr. to have been 4 Not particularly conspicuous in the row of houses, so occupiedan old photofrom 1906 of its special importance. The picture could have been the opening ceremony of a restaurant or breakfast room. You can see the finely dressed-up tenant or operator family Allekotte, who, in addition to all sorts of physical well-being, also offered accommodation with meals and a shower bath in the courtyard. So everything that one could desire for well-being in the simple framework at that time. The facade of the pines 4 should still be largely preserved. House No. 4 currently houses the "Culture Bureau Pine Street"(K4).

With a revitalization of the Kiefernstraße in 1981, the grocery store run by the elderly Mr. Sobbek experienced an upswing again. For many years he has run this business with two saleswomen and a full range of products. He was able to continue his business for a while until his retirement, when he was greeted with a boozy celebration.

Afterwards, the Greek tenants Jannis and Maria continued to run the food trade for a few years with a greatly reduced range. Friendly conversations and sometimes letters kept the good contact with the residents alive. After Jannis found a new field of activity as a pub owner in Bilk, Ricarda ran a kiosk for a while, which over time became a meeting place with outdoor seating whenever the weather permitted.

After that, the premises stood empty for a long time. Until the "Kulturbureau Kiefernstraße 4" rented the premises to set up a gallery for exhibitions, readings and various art projects. This work was funded by the cultural office of the city of Düsseldorf. 

In January 2019, the team changed again. The focus of the old bathhouse was now on the meetings of the residents, for street meetings to continue the fight for affordable housing together. From time to time the premises are also to be used for extracurricular history lessons.

So much for the story of the pines 4.

The more recent history of the entire Kiefernstrasse is as eventful as it is enduring:

After the Klöckner works, as the successor to the Düsseldorf iron and wire industry, closed their rolling mill on Fichtenstraße 40 (today's Zakk) in 1975 and sold them two years later together with the company apartment on Kiefernstraße to the city of Düsseldorf (property office of the city of Düsseldorf), work began like recent history.

In 1977 the owner was the municipal housing association Düsseldorf (DÜWOGE), which offered residents a "lure bonus" of 1,000 DM if they would renounce their right to live on this street.

Although affordable housing was still scarce, evictions began in 1977. The houses were gradually emptied and prepared for demolition by bricking up the windows and destroying the sanitary facilities. According to plans by the city of Düsseldorf, a new commercial area should be created here. The city council therefore decided in 1978 to formally designate Kiefernstrasse as a redevelopment area. As a result, the houses at Kiefern 7, 9, 35 and 37 were handed over to the social welfare office, which mainly housed African refugees.

By 1981, more than 100 apartments had been abandoned by the former residents. However, the housing shortage was still great. In the  summer of 1981, the city handed over 50 apartments in 4 buildings to the association "Aktion Wohnungsnot eV", founded in 1972, with the promise to make another 50 apartments available in September 1981. This promise was not kept. As a result, in the fall of 1981, another 50/60 apartments were occupied. Through the intervention of the "Wohnungsnot eV", the city legalized the squatting through usage contracts, but did not want to accept further squatting, since the living space was needed for refugees. In some of these apartments, mainly African refugees were accommodated by the social welfare office. Further occupations followed, against which approached the city with criminal charges of coercion and trespassing, and subsequently lost contact with the city.

Together with the neighboring alternative communication center "ZAKK", over 600 signatures were collected from the residents, which were passed on to the city with the demand to rethink urban planning and leave the much-needed living space to the residents. The city didn't move, however. The residents began to organize themselves by means of house meetings and street plans and began to renovate the living space, which had been neglected for many years, on their own initiative. When squats were evicted throughout the city in 1982, some of the affected residents also moved to Kiefernstrasse.

Only when the forces in the district council and in the council shifted in the course of local elections in 1984 were contacts with the city administration resumed, albeit hesitantly. Most of the asylum seekers were resettled and the houses at Kiefern 35 and 37 were rented out again. In 1985, the asylum seekers from houses 7 and 9 in Kiefern were also resettled. The following year these houses were also squatted.

When RAF member Eva Sybille Haule-Frimpong was arrested at 4:30 p.m. in the Dolomiti ice cream parlor in Rüsselsheim on August 2, 1986, together with 2 residents of Kiefernstrasse, a major raid followed with 800 police officers in fast vehicles. The heavily armed special task force, equipped with visor helmets and bulletproof vests, stormed several apartments. They had waited the whole night before they got the news of the successful arrest in Rüsselsheim. The two companions, aged 23 and 27, were suspected of having been couriers for the Red Army faction and having connections to the militant core of the Düsseldorf squatter scene. After the name and place of residence of the two were known, access was possible. Terror investigators from the Federal Criminal Police Office searched Kiefern 1, where one of the men is said to have lived. As a result, the Kiefernstrasse became the center of attention in Germany. The arrest of Eva Haule and her companions was in connection with the assassination attempt on July 9th, in which the Siemens manager Karl Heinz Beckurts and his driver Eckhard Groppler were murdered. With Ms. Haule-Frimpong was a fully loaded, large-caliber SIG-Sauer pistol, which came from an RAF raid on a gun shop in Masdorf on November 5, 1984, as well as other ammunition and various forged ID cards.

No weapons were found during the search of Kiefernstrasse, but vast amounts of documents were found.

Over the next year there were repeated raids, demonstrations and large-scale police operations. The pine road was temporarily blocked by the police. By 1988, 6 residents of Kiefernstraße were arrested on suspicion of terrorism. From the then CDU General Secretary Helmut Linssen, the Kiefernstraße in the NRW state parliament as  "Zentrum  des  terrorism in the BR 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_designated.

After long debates and renewed squatting, it came about that in 1988 limited rental

Polizei räumt auf Kiefernstr. 02/88

contracts could be concluded  with all residents  which were extended 10 years later. When the leases were due to expire in November 2008, the residents were strong again

Photo Feb 1988: Werner Gabriel/Hans Jürgen Breuer - Montage: Krebs/Radousi - Permission to publish: Jon Blos

Artistic appreciation 

At the beginning of the new millennium, the artistic upgrading of the Kiefernstraße slowly started. From 2003 the "Kulturbureau Kiefernstraße" began with the artistic implementation of the new house facades. The previously occupied houses with the odd numbers were gradually given a colourful, partly socially critical design in different stages in consultation and with the support of the house residents. The new look should match the flair of the Kiefernstrasse.

In 2004 were created by the artist group"color fever"about Klaus Klinger under the motto "More beautiful living on the Kiefernstraße" the houses Kiefern 1 - 5 are colorfully designed. The painting extends from the corner house of Kiefernstraße/Fichtenstraße to the side of Fichtenstraße where the "ZAKK" is located at Fichtenstraße No. 40.

In 2008 the "5 times 5" campaign started. Here 5 different houses are again elaborately painted under the aegis of Klaus Klinger.

Gradually, the painting took place on the odd houses up to house no. 37. House no. 10 on the even side was painted in 2012 and with the "Afrikahaus" by Karsten Breidenbroich, the last house was painted in 2016.

One must not forget the site fence, which is a place for artistic meetings at regular intervals. The special thing about the Kiefernstraße is shown in the fact that the street art and graffiti works of art are largely spared from external scribblings.

Since  20 different houses own 20 different stories, you can find them in their numerical order here.  At least as far as I can find out. In most houses, one or two pictures are not enough to convey the many pictures in the picture, symbols on the walls and ideas from the artists and residents. For this reason there is a small gallery for each house.


At this point I would like to thank the artistKarsten BreidbroichThank you for the friendly telephone interview, which gave me interesting insights into the "making of" the "Afrikahaus" (Kiefern 12). When looking at the pictures that the photographer Jürgen Wintermantel-Menze gave me permission to use, I have the feeling that I was there myself. 

The Gallic Village - core competence resistance

this is how an article from March 5th, 2019 in Coolibri titled die  Kiefernstraße. Because the Kiefernstrasse community sees itself just as defensively when it comes to preserving their living space.


Here you will find an insight into the diverse activities of the Kiefernstraße community to preserve their living space, which they fought for with so much commitment:

*Planwerkstadt378-HANDELN: CITY THINKING - Invitation to the participation process (...)

*For Social Urban Planning - Poor people get kicked out! No hotel construction (...)

*Flingern Can't be eaten - June 26th, 2019 meeting of the district representatives...(...)

*For A Rebellious City - Peace to the Shacks! War on the palaces! Demo (...)

*Statement on the current developments - protest is worth it! But: (...

Progressive modern developmentof the surrounding commercial areas is currently putting the Kiefernstraße under pressure. The desire of various investors and project developers to build micro apartments and hotel complexes in the upper price range in the immediate vicinity has caused massive resistance from the residents of Kiefernstraße  . Together with the rest of the district, the people have so far been quite successful in defending themselves against various misplannings in the city. For example, (as of 03/19) 140 student apartments are to be built for Cube Real Estate, both as single apartments and shared flats, as well as a hotel with 280 rooms and a day care center.

Yesterday as today, the residents want to ensure that opportunities and space are created for all citizens, especially in their district. It is enormously important to them that not only people with higher incomes, but people from all social classes have adequate living space that they can pay for. Everyone should be able to live according to their preferences. There are no management consultants or lawyers here; artists, craftsmen, physiotherapists and musicians live here. People here know Susie from 12 or Ahmed from 35, the surnames seem to be of secondary importance. A lively neighborhood should be created and maintained, in which people can get to know each other if they like. Accepting each other and offering help when needed. Music and art should also be given space here. The residents want to actively participate in the political and cultural events in their city. They want to be able to determine their own interests. Participation in them important.

The Kiefernstraße sees itself as a unique and progressive way of life and an example of functioning social interaction. They reconcile different life preferences and different cultural backgrounds in a socially acceptable way, so to speak. It has been recognized that different cultures and social statuses offer the opportunity to participate in one another. In this way, Kasper Michels, who was one of the first residents of Kieferstrasse, brings the lifestyle of Kiefernstrasse to life even for "non-Düsseldorfers". Its informative city walks  he currently runs Corona compliant online.

The Kiefern, as the residents of the Kiefernstraße like to call themselves, have an extremely autonomous residential community. Changes to the buildings are decided democratically. When repairs are needed, you first lend a hand before a caretaker is called. If apartments in the Kiefernstraße become available there, the community decides who can move in there. A basic rent for everyone ensures a piece  social justice. The Kiefern organizes itself through various committees and working groups. They continue to decide on the design of the house facades.

In this very difficult environment, there is a very high level of social competence. They think that people who can afford expensive hotels and apartments would not feel comfortable in this environment. They would be better off in other parts of the city. This is the statement of a resident who lived in Kiefernstraße for 2.5 years in 03/19.

According to Kaspar Michels in an interview with Collibri, published March 5th, 2019, the planned large-scale construction projects are harmful to the identity of the entire Flingern district. People have fewer and fewer points of identity and anchor points that connect them with "their" district. It should not be about maximum economic utilization of building land. Rather, it must be ensured that, for example, working-class families can continue to find affordable housing in Düsseldorf. If this were barrier-free, that would also be an improvement, for example. The above resident also considers day-care centers and facilities for refugees and the homeless to be desirable for the pines.

In tireless joint work, the residents have now found 3000 like-minded people in a signature campaign in 2019. Apparently, the district council has now given in. There were/are discussions with the parties involved, which were definitely perceived as pleasant and productive.

But this story doesn't end there. It will continue to be written...

But first, the 40th birthday will be celebrated in August 2021. You can be excited but also be sure that despite Corona, a special event will take place.

Krefeld in April 2021



2.360° tour of Pine Street - Kaspar Michels

3. pines.og

6. Coolibri from 05.03.19

7. "They call is small pairs"- Kaspar Michels Rundgang  WAZ from ....

8th RP Online from 08/27/2013

9. WAZ from 16.05.2019

SamaraBlue - MyWayOfArt/

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