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Occupation of JUZ Bockenheim

From squatters to prison owners: The history of the initiative »Faites votre jeu!« and the use of the Klapperfeld began with a squat.

The initiative »Faites votre jeu!« occupied the former youth centre at Varrentrappstraße 38 in August 2008 in order to oppose the repressive restructuring of the urban space with an attempt at a self-managed, non-commercial centre. In February 2009, we decided to move into the former police prison at Klapperfeldstraße 5, which was offered by the city of Frankfurt as a replacement building under the pressure of broad support for our project.

For documentation purposes, the following is the self-representation from 2008, referring to the occupation of the former youth centre in Bockenheim:

»Faites votre jeu!«

The initiative

The initiative »Faites votre jeu!« is an association of mainly young people who are united by a common interest in cultural, artistic and political work beyond established structures. The initiative came into being as a reaction to the advancing, repressive restructuring of urban space and aims to point out breaks in the social totality and thus represent a possible counter-draft to the prevailing social conditions. The initiative is an open association of individuals and groups and is open to all interested people. The consensus is that anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism and sexism and other reactionary and inhuman patterns of thought and behaviour have lost nothing in the common contexts and are in contradiction to the declared goal of developing self-determined, emancipative politics and culture.

The house

The house at Varrentrappstraße 38 was first occupied over 30 years ago and was used at that time as one of the first self-managed youth centres in Germany. After the house was put under municipal administration and the original users were no longer active in the JUZ Bockenheim, the premises were vacated in 2001 and the JUZ moved to Schlossstraße. Since then, under the administration of the Department of Education and Women’s Affairs, it has been exposed to ever-increasing decay and the city of Frankfurt has not taken any measures to preserve the listed building.

The occupation

On 2 August 2008, the initiative »Faites votre jeu!« occupied the former JUZ Bockenheim with an opening party. The building, which had been empty for 7 years, was occupied with the aim of creating space for the initiative. This building was deliberately chosen because, on the one hand, it serves as a symbol of urban policy, in which less and less space is available for uncommercial and self-managed projects, while, on the other hand, more and more buildings are empty and not being used. Moreover, it offered enough space for the multitude of planned projects and, as a formerly occupied JUZ, is already in the tradition of self-organisation and self-administration.

The use

Since 2 August, the rooms in the former JUZ have been made available for use after years of dereliction. A self-managed, non-commercial centre has emerged. It has become a meeting place for people to work together on art and cultural projects and offers space for political discussions, readings and events.

So far, community, bar and event rooms, a sports and training room and a kitchen have been set up on the ground floor. The first floor offers sufficient space for a wide variety of exhibitions and, with the »Red Salon«, a classically furnished lounge. The stage on the second floor can be used for readings, discussion events and concerts. Other rooms on the second and third floors are available as open studios. In the basement there is already a workshop room, a free shop, the »Kellerklause« and a photo lab. Currently, a media room, a room for the students’ café and a band rehearsal room are being set up. Furthermore, the former JUZ also offers space to various political and cultural groups and initiatives.

The programme

Since the reopening in August, a number of weekly events have become established: Every Tuesday the bar evening, partly with musical theme evenings. On Wednesdays, after the students’ café, the »Faites votre cuisine« takes place in the afternoon, where you can eat delicious food for little money. Afterwards, you can gamble into the night at the »Autonomous Gamble Night«. On Sundays, surprise films are shown at the »Questionable Film Evening«.

In addition to these regular events, there have already been many other varied events in the last six months. In addition to various lectures, information and discussion events, there was, for example, a contemporary witness talk with the resistance fighter and anti-fascist Ernesto Kroch and a series of author readings as part of the counter-book mass. In addition, after a break of almost ten years, various bands from Berlin, Argentina and the USA played at the venue that was famous for its concerts in the eighties and nineties – even beyond Frankfurt’s borders.

Another focus of the programme is the organisation and realisation of exhibitions. In the meantime, six exhibitions have taken place, at which more than 30 different artists have exhibited their works.

The organisation

All decisions concerning the initiative »Faites votre jeu!« and the rooms in Varrentrappstraße 38 are made by all users according to the consensus principle at the weekly plenum. Anyone who is interested can take part. The attempt to create a self-determined social and cultural practice stands in opposition to authoritarian hierarchies.