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No City Hates Its Landlords Like Berlin Does

Activists say a five-year rent freeze is merely a good start. Who’s up for expropriating some private property?
relates to No City Hates Its Landlords Like Berlin Does
Photo Illustration: 731; Photos: Getty Images; Redux

On the ground floor of a tan stucco building in the Schillerkiez neighborhood of Berlin sits an anarchist bar called Syndikat. Its windows are plastered with anti-Nazi and anti-gentrification stickers. Motörhead and German punk bands play on rotation, and a small draft beer costs less than €2.

Since 1985, Syndikat has served as a kind of cigarette-smoke-saturated living room for misfits, students, immigrants, and hard-up neighbors. In September 2018, however, an eviction notice from the bar’s landlord, Firman Properties S.a.r.l., appeared in the mail. That’s when Syndikat’s co-managers took on a surprisingly difficult challenge: finding out who owned their building.