The area around the former power station Umspannwerk, the testimonies of the struggle in the last few months are still visible. “Google, get out ! “can it be read on a door of a building. “Google is not a good neighbor,” proclaims a poster pasted on a lamppost. “Meeting the anti-Google every second Sunday of the month “, is it announced on the front of a grocery store.
Now, all this belongs to the past. Wednesday, October 24th, Google announced that it was opting to install a “campus” in the heart of Berlin. In November 2016, the american group had made it known that he wished to create, in the German capital, a place dedicated to the meetings, events and professional training in the area of digital, as it already has in London, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Tel Aviv and Warsaw. The address of this future ” campus “, the opening of which was scheduled for the beginning of 2019 ? The old power station Umspannwerk, an old industrial building of red brick located on the edge of a canal in Kreuzberg, a district of former West Berlin, used to be very popular, reputed to be a breeding ground for anti-capitalist activists and anti-globalization, and now in the process of gentrification is accelerated.
However, it is precisely this which was made to abort the project. Upon learning that Google had leased 3 000 m2 in this vast quadrangle, which is already home to the spaces of coworking for start-ups, as well as cafes, and a trendy restaurant, several local associations committed against real estate speculation, and rising rents and evictions of families with modest incomes, are mounted at the front.
In recent times, the fight was quite hardened. A group called ” Fuck off Google “, was built up to denounce the installation of” a society in which practice tax evasion and dream of a dystopian future “. On 7 September, the police had had to intervene to dislodge a fifty demonstrators who were brought into the building, with banners reading ” Google, go home ! “(” Google, go home ! “).
The story :
In Berlin, the fronde anti-Google
“Hostile to entrepreneurs ”
“Protest serves to something. Google withdraws “, is welcomed by the association of local residents most active in the collective ” Fuck off Google “, Wednesday, on Twitter. A ” surrender “, has welcomed the leftist daily Die Tageszeitung. An interpretation of the facts that the leaders of Google have very quickly wished to counter : “We don’t let the protests we dictate what we do,” responded Ralf Bremer, a spokesman for Google in Berlin, in an interview with the daily Berliner Zeitung, stating that his company had no intention to renounce to finance the development of start-ups in the German capital, but not in the context of a ” campus “, as had been originally planned.
Clearly keen to look after its image, the american giant has, however, committed to continue to pay, for the next five years, the rent of 3 000 m2 it is rented out to Kreuzberg (480 000 euros per year). But, this time, with a single ” sponsor “, the premises to be occupied now by a non-profit association, engaged in social and humanitarian aid…
Since Wednesday, the political reactions were not lacking. First opposition force in the Parliament of the Land of Berlin, the christian democratic Union (CDU), the party of chancellor Angela Merkel, has described the decision as ” chilling message “. For the conservatives, the renunciation of Google proves that the majority who governs the German capital from 2016 – composed of the social democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the party of the radical left, Die Linke – is ” hostile to entrepreneurs “. According to a study published on Tuesday, October 23 by the German Association of start-up, the Rhineland-of-North-Westphalia would have dethroned Berlin its first place, this year, in the ranking of the German Länder with the largest number of companies in the sector of digital.