Today I wandered over to the rent increase protest camp on Kottbusser Tor. Some initial unformed thoughts.
It seems that the occupy style encampment has become quite a popular way of making a point. The crop of professional protesters and squatters that congregate around these camps are not very inviting towards deeper engagement. If you have no deep interest in the issues at hand, you might go over and read a couple of the pamphlets, but probably not much more.
The creative workers I know who like myself work and/or live in Kreuzberg are not very concerned with the issues plaguing these people. Most of them are in fact in direct competition with these people whose home rents are being spiked and liberalized. As soon as the renters are moved out, their houses are very rapidly turned around, sold on the overheated Berlin real-estate market to investors and then rented out at several times inflated prices.
This agrees with my personal experience that rents in Kreuzberg are on the rise and not at all slowly (they may be the only thing in Germany that indeed does change rapidly). The urban tides are shifting and most of these people have no footholds to stay in what was their home for the past decades. Those that know how and why things are changing closely guard that knowledge. The housing corporations have refused talks with afflicted renters and their organizations. In Germany knowledge translates quite directly into power and those that possess it are usually not very squeamish about employing it for personal gain.
Update: Just to support some of the writing here with this quote I came upon from Tagesspiegel (via Slow Travel Berlin):
“It is not the fault of foreign artists or party tourists; they too would prefer to pay less rent. It is caused by the mass sell-off of publicly-owned apartments, combined with the deregulation of rent prices.” —Joel Alas