Rote Flora
The Rote Flora is a former theater in the neighbourhood Schanzenviertel in Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

. It has been squatted
Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use....

 in November 1989 in response to the decision to turn it into a musical theatre
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...


History of the building

The theater was built 1888 and named Tivoli-Theater. Soon, it was renamed to Concerthaus Flora, and eventually became the Flora-Theater where concerts, operetta
Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter. It is also closely related, in English-language works, to forms of musical theatre.-Origins:...

 and revue
A revue is a type of multi-act popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance and sketches. The revue has its roots in 19th century American popular entertainment and melodrama but grew into a substantial cultural presence of its own during its golden years from 1916 to 1932...

s were performed on stage. Being one of the few theaters which have not been damaged in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the shows went on until 1943. During the last few years of the war, the theater was closed and used for storage, but soon opened after a renovation in 1949. From 1953 to 1964, the building was used as a cinema with around 800 seats; the department store 1000 Töpfe moved in afterwards and remained until 1987.

History of the political project

After the shutdown of the department store, musical producer Friedrich Kurz came forward with plans of turning the empty building into a musical theater. However, residents, shopkeepers and autonomous groups responded negatively and, within months, the protest grew. Nevertheless, the historical building was torn down in April 1988. Still, the protests went on and soon culminated in several violent assaults by militant
The word militant, which is both an adjective and a noun, usually is used to mean vigorously active, combative and aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in 'militant reformers'. It comes from the 15th century Latin "militare" meaning "to serve as a soldier"...

 groups. The need of police protection and the negative response in media
eventually urged the investors to forfeit the plan.

Until following summer, the ruins and remaining parts were vacant, although several groups, involved in the prior protests, had ambitions of renovating and reusing the house again. In August 1989, the city unexpectedly offered a six-months lease
A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee to pay the lessor for use of an asset. A rental agreement is a lease in which the asset is tangible property...

these groups. After the lease was official, the Rote Flora opened on September 23, 1989. However, the lease was soon declared obsolete and the Rote Flora was declared as squatted on November 1, 1989. Since then, the Rote Flora offers space for cultural and political events. The project is financed privately and administrated independently.

Between 1990 and 1991, the project turned the deserted backyard - formerly the construction site - into a park. The city, on the other hand, had plans of building apartments on the same ground, and soon the conflict ended with an eviction
How you doing???? Eviction is the removal of a tenant from rental property by the landlord. Depending on the laws of the jurisdiction, eviction may also be known as unlawful detainer, summary possession, summary dispossess, forcible detainer, ejectment, and repossession, among other terms...

 order carried out by massive police forces.

In August 1992, the Senator for Urban Development urged the organizers of the Rote Flora to sign a valid lease within six weeks. If not, another eviction order would be deployed. The negotiations between officials and representatives of the Rote Flora lasted for months; the eviction was not ordered and the Rote Flora remained squatted.

A fire in November 1995 destroyed big part of the building, but was soon renovated and restored. The Rote Flora remained as a cultural and (left-winged) political meeting point. In autumn 2000, the Senate of Hamburg once more started negotiations about a new lease. After 11 years of occupation, the Rote Flora was a political issue and also made a subject of the elections in 2001.

After controversial discussions, the occupiers refused any further negotiations with the Senate. In response, the Senate sold the building in March 2001 to the entrepreneur Klausmartin Kretschmer. In the next weeks, Kretschmer made clear that no changes are going to be made; the Rote Flora would remain autonomous.

The Rote Flora today

The Rote Flora had its 15th anniversary in November 2004. It was used while the Anti-G8 protests in Germany took place in 2007 as a convergence center
Convergence center
A convergence center is a central place for information and meeting to serve participants during large and manifold protest or other alternative activities at summits....

 and for several congresses, political meetings and cultural events.
In end of march of the year 2011, the contract with the owner and the city expires in its original form. In the contract was fixed under which conditions Kretschmer could sell the place and that it has to be a social center. From now on, he has the possibility to sell it for the price he wants and to whom he wants. If Kretschmer sells the "Rote Flora", it will be in danger of eviction.
The people using the Rote Flora started a campaign "Flora bleibt unverträglich" for activities against the possible eviction. A twitter account is as well available at: @florableibt.


The Rote Flora organizes flea market
Flea market
A flea market or swap meet is a type of bazaar where inexpensive or secondhand goods are sold or bartered. It may be indoors, such as in a warehouse or school gymnasium; or it may be outdoors, such as in a field or under a tent...

s, parties and cultural events regularly and further on serves as a meeting point for left-wing movements. Political issues involved are immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

, nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 in Germany, privatisation of public space. The Rote Flora is mainly financed through donations and parties; mainstream music is not played, instead, the Rote Flora offers a wide range of alternative music such as punk, reggae
Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.Reggae is based...

, ska
Ska |Jamaican]] ) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues...

, dub
Dub music
Dub is a genre of music which grew out of reggae music in the 1960s, and is commonly considered a subgenre, though it has developed to extend beyond the scope of reggae...

, drum 'n' bass and goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...


In the last few years, the Rote Flora manifested its importance as an alternative cultural center and is now an essential part of the Schanze-Quarter.

The front part of the building still serves as a space for political, often very subjective and propagandistic, messages. Rote Flora organises art exhibitions, working with artist from all over the world and offers a unique and creative environment to work in.

External links

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