Illustrations on the wall of a cafe in the Kreuzberg district. Rent control after World War II kept housing conditions poor and attracted many immigrants seeking low-cost accommodation as well as squatters from the radical left and the area retains a bohemian atmosphere.
Berlin – Fact Check

When hipsters move in, who pays the price?

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Berlin – Fact Check When hipsters move in, who pays the price?

Kreuzberg is the kind of place travellers love – a colorful neighborhood full of vintage shops, bargain flea markets and artisan coffee. As this once-impoverished part of Berlin booms, however, its people pay the price of development.

Meera Dattani
Meera Dattani Travel Writer

Kreuzberg used to be a no-go zone, on the border of the former East and West Germany. Its poor housing offered a home to squatters and immigrants, but now its location its biggest selling point.

Trendy “X-Berg” has become somewhere to find places such as Burgermeister, a burger restaurant under a U-Bhan station inside what used to be old toilets. Famous for its all-night parties, the district has some of Berlin’s boldest street art and an annual Carnival of Cultures.

But at its heart is a long-established Turkish community and, as rents rise, they are paying the price. Turkish grocery store Bizim Bakkal/Our Grocery, X-berg’s oldest greengrocer, has been selling fruit, vegetables, goat’s cheese and more for 28 years. Now owner Ahmet Caliskan has been served an eviction notice.

Locals have rallied around, staging weekly demos with banners such as “Bizim Bakkal Must Stay” and “Je suis Bizim Bakkal”. It’s a culture war, pitting neighborhood against developers.

X-Berg’s future may be up for grabs, but what price do you put on its soul?

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Young teens in the Kreuzberg district, which has a large population of migrants, predominantly Turkish. Although Germany’s links with the Ottoman Empire go back to the 17th century, it was the labor shortage of the mid-1950s that first drew mass migration from Turkey and there are now around 250,000 Turks in Berlin alone. Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

NIKON D2X

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Young teens in the Kreuzberg district, which has a large population of migrants, predominantly Turkish. Although Germany’s links with the Ottoman Empire go back to the 17th century, it was the labor shortage of the mid-1950s that first drew mass migration from Turkey and there are now around 250,000 Turks in Berlin alone.

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