Solidarisches Netzwerk von Nachbarschaft und Gewerbetreibenden in Berlin-Kreuzberg

The neighborhood bookstore against the billionaires – petition

The petition was started by #Volle Breitseite für unsere Buchhandlung Kisch & Co and is addressed to
Bundesregierung und Berliner Senat
Victoria Immo Properties V S.a.r.l.
Christine Lambrecht Bundesjustizministerin

Save our local bookstore Kisch & Co! Save our inner cities and neighborhoods as living, social and cultural spaces! No! to speculation with rental and commercial spaces!

In a time of pandemic reductions and close-downs when the vast majority of cultural institutions has
suffered economical losses and still has vage chances to survive economically, internationally
operating corporate enterprises were gaining ground in almost all German major cities. Their
business model is affecting residential and commercial space in an extremely high degree. Market
prices and rental income do not seem to matter: The economic aim of these investors is to save taxes
and to increase profits with resale. They operate in the same line by terminating rental agreements
in order to demand rack rents or to market vacant spaces for high prices.

The well-known cultural centre of our neighborhood in Berlin-Kreuzberg Oranienstraße 25 is threatened in its existence. First of all the customer-orientated bookshop Kisch & Co, that had been practicing its business for more than 23 years at this place, was told, its economic potential did not meet the new owners‘ expectations. The new holders were investors of a Luxembourg closed real estate fund, the Victoria Immo Properties V S.à.r.l., that was active on the market since the 5th of March 2019 and will exist for only 11 years. The building was bought in autumn 2019 for an incomparable high price of 35.5 million €. 11 year ago it was bought by Berggrün V for 7.2 million €, which already then had been an unexpected purchase price. Estate agents estimated the current market value of the building according to assortment criteria 60% less.

Some tenants were already told that their rent would rise by 175%. This increase of profits regardless of the economic market situation of this relative poor area is overrated even compared with prosperous centres of the inner city.

With high evidence investigative journalists found out that the financal source of this financial transaction can be traced back either to private properties or corporate asserts of the Rausing family, the heirs of Tetra Pak. All members of the family own a fortune by own businesses. Their ancestor established the basis for this economic wealth by acquiring the patent of the Tetra Pak packing, an invention of an employee of the company, at a reasonable price of three months wages. Tetra Pak now is one of the most leading businesses in the word and is also investing in other business branches as well in the assert market. The influence of the Tetra Pak company is permanently extending into several shareholdings of relevant productions with the help of offshore companies. Normally they act very anonymously by trust investments.

All members of the family moved from Sweden to England because of the lovely landscapes and the opportunity to optimize their taxable income. In public they appear as benefactors and benefactress with trusts and donations for the public welfare. As investors they can exert their influence on rent and lease agreements, otherwise their commitment for public benefits is non-credible and would interfere and baffle efforts of welfare economics of members of the family. Up to now only one member, Sigrid Rausing, clarified, she had nothing to do with this business investment, but would intercede for the bookshop and talk with her family. Despite several requests the family members were hiding from their responsibility.

The financial interests of the Victoria Immo Properties V was not quite clear to enquired economists. In agreement they came to the conclusion that not only the surpluses of rents and the enhancement in value were doubtful. The development of the real estate market during the last years had shown clearly the profit margins were in decline, not only in these uncertain times but also because of an overheated and turnaround market. The further prospects were less optimistic with only slight growth rates during the following years at most. The overcharged price of the building Oranienstraße 25 could not be achieved in the remaining years of existence of the closed-end fund.

The first reaction to the non-renewal of the lease agreement already showed several backlashes.

Loyal customers explained in video clips the importance of this bookshop for themselves, their families and the exchange of literary information. This can be seen on YouTube…

At the same time the local government wrote a letter to the Victoria Immo Properties V with the urgent request to preserve the bookshop Kisch & Co. as a cultural institution. Members of the Berlin Senat and the Bundestag joined with identical appeals. Newspapers informed about the imminent cultural loss and the practices of the foreign property market. The reaction of the solicitors‘ office of the Victoria Immo Properties V succeeded immediately and was unexpected in form and content. They offered a contract renewal till to the ultimate end of the year 2020. In return for this service the bookshop should maintain silent about the real conditions of the contract, the proceedings of the Victoria Immo Properties V. and should inform the media and several specific nominated persons about the new owners in a positive way. Counteracting this demand would result in contract penalties. Kisch & Co. could not accept this gagging order and remained in its premises without a rental contract, which ended at the end of May ’20, but was paying the previous rental fee furthermore continuously.

Kisch & Co. tried unsuccessfully to renew the tenancy agreement for months. In the meantime a supporting encouragement group organized a campaign „Volle Breitseite“ (the whole nine yards). Shops of the neighbourhood, customers, and initiatives designed a book in A1 portrait. Together they expressed artistically what the bookshop meant to them and what they hoped and feared for the future. A variety of those creative statements was bound as a calendar an can be bought or ordered at the bookshop. An exhibition of these pages in the famous gallery of the ‚New Society of Fine Arts‘ found great favor with an regional and international visitors.

Together with famous authors, musicians, and comedians, who were associated with Kisch & Co. a local campaign started. All supporters arranged regular events every two weeks during the whole summertime an in autumn in front of the bookshop. Cultural performances alternated with political discussions. The popularity of these events increased up to an extend that the street had to be blocked for traffic. This attracted several television broadcasting transmissions and radio stations. They reported regularly about the status quo and the unreadiness of the hirer. Some long-term reportages were broadcasted in whole Germany as an example of rigorous business practice. Nevertheless the bookshop received the official information, the lawyers of the Victoria Immo Properties had moved an action of eviction.

Several politicians of different parties, respected personalities of culture and social economy, journalists, cultural associations, initiatives, and other bookshops signed a petition with the following demands. In addition to these first 150 subscriber 2’000 others followed in a few days only. The petition will be published in several newspapers.

Nevertheless the bookstore received an eviction notice on 22th Sep. 2020. The eviction trial at „Landgericht Berlin“ (Berlin Regional Court) was scheduled for the 5th February 2021 and recently postponed to April 2021.

Support by the neighborhood as well as by politicians, residents, bar and shop operators, urban political groups – all of them speak out clearly in favor of the urgently needed preservation of the bookstore. The bookstore in the media is gaining widespread attention.
Media coverage of the fight for Kisch & Co

We demand from the owners/responsible persons of the building Oranienstraße 25:

  • Withdrawal the action of the eviction immediately
  • Extend the rental contract or offer a new tenancy arrangement with affordable financial conditions as well as a long-term valid time.
  • Guarantee the same rights for all cultural institutions and businesses in the building on equal terms.

We demand from federal and state politicians:

Protect small businesses, social cultural institutions. Establish a tenancy law with equal rights in the German Civil Code as it is already existing for rented flats: Protection against dismissal, no stipulated time limits, establish criteria for the level of rents by rent-regulations and binding agreements like a local commercial rent index and upper limits.

To get an impression of the protest and resistance activities so far, a few links are attached (in german language):

To finance the further campaign and the process costs, „#Volle Breitseite für Kisch & Co“ a calendar for 2021 was produced. A 16-page calendar, A3 format with 12 monthly pages and plenty of illustrated information has been created from a pool of over 100 artistic A1 format pictures from our supporters. It can be ordered here: Volle Breitseite Kalender 2021

150 people from politics, culture and organizations as well as various initiatives have already supported this petition as first signatories:

  • #200 Häuser
  • 23 Häuser sagen NEIN
  • Vernetzung der Akelius-Mieter*innen
  • Reza Amiri, DIE LINKE, BVV FHXB
  • Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Arlt, Autor und Publizist
  • Jim Avignon, Künstler
  • Heike Avsar, Autorin
  • Simone Barrientos, DIE LINKE, MdB
  • Leonie Baumann, weißensee kunsthochschule berlin
  • Canan Bayram, Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, MdB
  • Arndt Beck, Künstler
  • Meret Becker, Schauspielerin
  • Berliner Hefte zu Geschichte und Gegenwart der Stadt e.V.
  • Elvira Berndt, Jugendkulturarbeiterin
  • Prof. Dr. Elisa T. Bertuzzo, weißensee kunsthochschule berlin
  • Dieter Bertz, Bertz + Fischer Verlag
  • Josef Bierbichler, Schauspieler
  • Klaus Bittermann, Verleger
  • Bizim Kiez
  • Thilo Bock, Autor
  • Die Buchkönigin, Buchhandlung
  • Matthias Coers, Filmemacher und Stadtaktivist
  • Planungsbüro coopdisco
  • Cosimo, Künstler
  • Georg Daniels, Journalist
  • Buchhandlung Dante Connection
  • Pizzeria De Noantri
  • Deutsche Wohnen & Co enteignen!
  • Drea, Künstlerin
  • Chris Dreier, Künstlerin
  • Egotronic, Musiker
  • Susanne Ehlerding, Journalistin
  • David Ensikat, Journalist
  • Klaus Farin, Schriftsteller
  • Bäckerei-Café Filou
  • Katrin Fischer, Bertz + Fischer Verlag
  • Julius Fischer, Autor
  • Nanette Fleig, Fotografin
  • Fünf Häuser
  • Katalin Gennburg, DIE LINKE, MdA
  • Nina George, Schriftstellerin
  • Kathrin Gerlof, common Verlagsgenossenschaft e.G. („OXI“)
  • GloReiche Nachbarschaft
  • Prof. Dr. Maja Göpel, Autorin
  • Gaby Gottwald, DIE LINKE, MdA
  • Thomas Gralla, Vorstand Landesverband Börsenverein d. dt. Buchhandels Berlin/ Brandenburg
  • Matt Grau, Künstler
  • Raphaël Grisey, Künstler
  • Gregor Gysi, DIE LINKE, MdB
  • Ralph Hammerthaler, Schriftsteller
  • Harry Hass, Vagabund
  • Lebensmittel Hillmann
  • Ulrich Hopp, be.bra verlag
  • Laura Horelli, Künstlerin
  • Johannes Jansen, Dichter
  • Elfriede Jelinek, Schriftstellerin
  • René Jokisch, DIE LINKE, BVV FHXB
  • Katja Jösting, DIE LINKE, BVV FHXB
  • Johannes Kahrs, Maler
  • Antiquariat Kalligramm
  • Ursula Kamischke, Kulturschaffende
  • Dota Kehr, Musikerin
  • Cansel Kizeltepe, SPD, MdB
  • Marc-Uwe Kling, Autor
  • Florian Günther, Autor und Verleger
  • Jochen Knoblauch, Autor
  • Lars Knuth, Performancekünstler
  • Korbinian Verlag
  • Alfons Kujat, Schauspieler
  • Verlag Antje Kunstmann
  • Ralf G. Landmesser, Publizist
  • Protestoper Lauratibor
  • Caren Lay, DIE LINKE, MdB
  • Sebastian Lehmann, Autor
  • Markus Liske, Autor
  • Kristine Listau, Vorstand Landesverband Börsenverein d. dt. Buchhandels Berlin/ Brandenburg
  • Boris Löbsack, Musiker
  • SC Lurich 02 e.V.
  • Geburtshaus MAJA
  • Maik Martschinkowsky, Autor
  • Sigrun Matthiesen, common Verlagsgenossenschaft e.G. („OXI“)
  • Manfred Maurenbrecher, Musiker
  • Pascal Meiser, DIE LINKE, MdB
  • Kerstin Meyer, Volkswirtin
  • Mieterpartei
  • Modern Graphics
  • Steve Morell, Musiker
  • Wolfgang Müller, Missverständniswissenschaftler
  • Marion Alexa Müller, Vorstand Landesverband Börsenverein d. dt. Buchhandels Berlin/ Brandenburg
  • Lindsay-Jane Munro, Übersetzerin
  • neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK), Berlin
  • OraNostra
  • O-Ton Keramik
  • Jan Off, Autor
  • Buchhandlung Oh 21
  • One World Berlin Human Rights Film Festival
  • Fritz Panzer, Maler
  • Pastor Leumund, Musiker
  • Dagmar Pelger, Architektin
  • Ulrich Peltzer, Schriftsteller
  • Manja Präkels, Autorin
  • Uwe Preuss, Schauspieler
  • Prinzessinnengärten am Moritzplatz
  • Pro qm Buchhandlung
  • Prof. Dr. Ralf Ptak, Volkswirt
  • Dr. Max Putzer, AsJ Berlin
  • Siebrand Rehberg, Fotograf
  • Matthias Reichelt, Kulturjournalist
  • Robert Rescue, Bühnenliterat
  • Ellen Röhner, Ausstellungsmacherin
  • Christiane Rösinger, Musikerin
  • Runder Tisch gegen Gentrifizierung in Moabit
  • Scardanelli, Dichter
  • Regina Scheer, Schriftstellerin
  • Clemens Schick, Schauspieler
  • Anne Schindler, common Verlagsgenossenschaft e.G. („OXI“)
  • Sanaa Schlaeger, Musikerin
  • Katrin Schmidberger, Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, MdA
  • Buchladenkollektiv Schwarze Risse
  • Ines Schwerdtner, Jacobin Magazin
  • Volker Seewald, Autor und Musiker
  • Berthold Seliger, Autor und Konzertagent
  • Regine Sommer-Wetter, DIE LINKE, BVV FHXB
  • Åsa Sonjasdotter, Künstlerin
  • Soundwatch Musikfilmfestival
  • stadt von unten
  • Erik Steffen, Literaturveranstalter & Publizist
  • Thommy Stückle, Zum Goldenen Hahn
  • Leander Sukov, Vize-Präsident des deutschen PEN-Zentrums
  • Sukultur Verlag
  • Jörg Sundermeier, Vorstand Landesverband Börsenverein d. dt. Buchhandels Berlin/ Brandenburg
  • Kneipenkollektiv Syndikat
  • Klaus Theuerkauf, Künstler
  • Wolfgang Tillmans, Künstler
  • Marin Turina, Drehbuchautor & Videojournalist
  • Lilo Unger, SO36
  • Ventil Verlag
  • Siljke Vogten, Autorin
  • Elisabeth Voß, Publizistin, NETZ e.V.
  • Ullrich Wannhoff, Künstler
  • Eckehard Weis, Drehbuchautor
  • Wem gehört Moabit
  • Heiko Werning, Autor
  • Marieke Wikesjo, Sopranistin
  • Willi wollt‘s anders
  • Frank Willmann, Autor
  • Dr. Thomas Wörtche, Publizist
  • Raul Zelik, Schriftsteller
  • Steffen Zillich, DIE LINKE, MdA
  • Friederike Zöllner, Vorstand Landesverband Börsenverein d. dt. Buchhandels Berlin/ Brandenburg
  • Bündnis Zwangsräumung verhindern