Prof. Mark Naison: Why City of Berlin Should Purchase Tacheles and Turn it into a Public Resource


April 1st, 2011

As a scholar, and cultural activist, who has developed a deep affection for the City of Berlin, I would like to urge that the City of Berlin purchase the land on which Tacheles is located at the upcoming auction in April. Tacheles is not only a tremendous economic and cultural resource for the City of Berlin, it has been a source of inspiration for arts groups around the world seeking creative use of once abandoned urban space. I have seen this operate first hand when a musical group I helped bring to Berlin, Rebel Diaz, who performed several times at Cafe Zapata in Tacheles decided, upon their return to the Bronx, to transform an abandoned candy factory in the South Bronx into a community arts space. This has been repeated by arts groups around the world. Tacheles is an international symbol of popular creativity in the face of political upheaval and economic
hardship. To artists and cultural workers, it is as important a symbol of Berlin as the Tower or the Brandenburg Gate.

To allow this incredible cultural space to fall into the hands of developers and be transformed into an upscale shopping center or luxury hotel would be an unspeakable tragedy, a negation of the creative spirit that has transformed Berlin the premier cultural center in Europe. It would also deprive Berlin of a precious cultural
resource, a center of artistic and musical create and a symbol of a heroic period in the global struggle for Democracy when ordinary people took history into their own hands.

So, my German friends, please make sure that Tacheles survives in its current form, as a public resource. Now, with the global economic crisis creating vacant commercial spaces crying out for creative uses, we need Tacheles more than ever.


Mark D Naison Phd.
Professor of African American Studies and History
Fordham University,
Principal Investigator, Bronx African American History Project
Founding Member, Bronx Berlin Youth Exchange.