Song Of The Day 10/8/2014: Ton Steine Scherben - "Rauch-Haus-Song"



Foreign Underground: "Rauch-Haus-Song" by Ton Steine Scherben, who CNN would probably call "The Deviants of West Berlin" and that's if they bothered to do one ounce of their interns' homework, was an early '70s anthem that sprung from the Berlin squatters' movement. Well, one of them, anyway; by my rough, cursory, more-concerned-about-hitting-deadline research I count at least three squatters' movements happening in Berlin from the early '70s through the early '90s. To their credit European squatters' movements weren't just adrenalized spewings of inchoate anarchy phlegm. Usually there was a full set of thematic strains behind the Berlin squatters' stances, and sometimes they were welcomed into the community with sofa donations and pies. And with that I will stop backhandedly demeaning an entire Germanic subcultural movement I knew nothing about before I sat down to write today's blog.

Ton Steine Scherben wrote "Rauch-Haus-Song" for the group of squatters who took over the former Bethanien-Krankenhaus. The castle-like building was constructed in the mid-19th century as a deaconess institute by King Frederich Wilhelm IV, who was a very religious man and something of a softy. It was eventually turned into a hospital, but after falling into a state of disrepair fairly common in Berlin at the time, it closed in 1970 and was scheduled for demolition. This was however delayed by an insurgent anti-authoritarian movement, and in 1971 squatters took over the hospital, resisting the advances of the Berlin police force.

The squatters, unofficially of course, renamed Bethanien-Krankenhaus after anarchist martyr Georg von Rauch, who had been shot to death under dubious circumstances in a police confrontation. "Rauch-Haus-Song," which is unfairly catchy, outlined the events of the occupation and served as an anthem and rallying point for like movements of the time. Those of you with the time to decode the lyrics would be most welcome back here. The only line I feel confident about translating is "Das ist unser Haus!" That would be "This is our house."

By the way, happy ending: The civil disobedience action resulted in the front part of Bethanien-Krankenhaus being leased to a youth center three years after the occupation. Now, of course, it's a combo Taco Bell/Pizza Hut.
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