Story of ufaFabrik

Sigrid Niemer

My name is Sigrid Niemer and I am one of the founding members of the ufaFabrik in Berlin. It was a long time ago about 34 years. And we came out of the squat. We were a group of young people mixed together in this city West Berlin. That means we were an island in the East German country.

And as people on an island, you know they are somehow creating their own lifestyle. And this was something that we took quite serious. We wanted to create our own life structure. This means we wanted to work in condition that we liked and we wanted to integrate arts and culture in our work. We worked with the first ideas of sustainability during that time it was called ecology. And we were also experimenting with human relationships, with a social commitment and new form of integrating arts and culture into the daily life. We were looking for a place in Berlin where we could do this not only in leisure time but really to create a work and life project.

And then we found this old grounds of the ufaFabrik. It was the grounds of a former film industry the very famous German UFA Film Industry. But these premises here were empty. And there were plans from the city council to turn down all the buildings but we said that these buildings would be perfect for us. And somehow we were no names in the city and we knew we would not have a big chance.

So we decided to squat but in a very friendly way and in a very creative way. That means we said we would have nothing for free. We just needed the chance to get a contract for these premises. And we went with our music instruments in the city. We made a shows like a street circus and then we explained the people about our plans. We went to the mayor playing drums and I was playing violin in front of his door. So we showed the people that we are quite normal people. The only thing we would like to have the freedom to create our own life and work project. Yes we got big support from the people of West Berlin. We collected signs and within the first three weeks we got about 30.000 people that signed in that they would be happy if we would get this chance. We got the first contract after three months and today we have long-term lease until the year 2037.

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