MPrey (MPrey@xtc.fido.de)
Mon, 28 Oct 1996 17:13:00 +0100

From: Initiative for an Anarchist Federation in Germany
Hamburg federate group

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re: hard times for dishoused persons

Hamburg senate plans to make life hard for dishoused persons in the city of
Hamburg. Since they reckon beggars to be a nuisance like litter and dog shit in
the streets (an official comment by a senator indeed linked these three "items"
in one sentence) and tourists to our city must not be confronted with things
like that, they are thinking to introduce a ban on beggars for Hamburg. A paper
worked out in the Hamburg Senate for Interior Affairs also says that especially
begging Sinti and Roma were a nuisance, thus adding a clearly racist angle
(Sinti are a minority in Germany who have lived here for centuries; during
recent years a great number of Roma fled to Germany from Romania and other
states to escape discrimination and horrible living conditions).

This means that dishoused persons found in the streets or sleeping in
public places can be taken to the city outskirts by the police and will be
left behind there.This has been carried through in other cities in Germany
but was dropped after media coverage on dishoused persons dying of
exposure right in the middle of nowhere after being deported by the

Furthermore, the chairman of Hamburg Liberal (?) Democratic Party,
Widmann, came up with the suggestions to tax the income of beggars.
Widmann stated that beggars are not only a nuisance to people and would in
many cases aggressively demand money, but also did not fit into nice
shopping parlours at all. Widmann furthermore presented a strange bill: he
said he knew for sure that beggars would make an income of DM 200 per day
(approx 140 dollars), amounting to DM 4000 and above per month, and thus
had a significantly higher income than average working persons. Therefore,
police should secure names and personal dates of all persons found begging
in the streets and hand out tax valuations to them.
This is a more than absurd way to solve the city|s financial problems,
apart from the fact that nobody knows where Widmann got the info about a
beggar|s daily profit. If this emerged to an official policy, this would
also mean that every person registered for begging and receiving tax bills
will also lose payments by social security which in many cases is the main
source of money (which cannot be called an income).This suggestions raised
a lot of protest, and in the meantime, media speculate about Widmann|s
position as a chairperson of the Liberal Party to be endangered.By the
way, Liberal Democrats enjoy the image of being the political party for
persons with an income above average....

Public transport in Hamburg, however, has come up with strategies realizing the
new policy even before this passed Hamburg senate:

About 4 weeks ago, the company (in the ownership of the city of Hamburg) told
bus and subway drivers to throw out dishoused persons since they annoyed normal
paying travellers.
Many dishoused persons use buses and subways as a means to keep warm
during the cold seasons, not all of them asking passengers for money. In
individual cases, drivers have already acted accordingly, as was reported
even in mainstream media.
During the winters in recent years, several organizations have come up
with appeals to open subway stations to dishoused persons during nights to
give them an alternative to sleeping in the streets or under bridges.
These appeals were enforced after media reporting dishoused persons dying
of exposure while sleeping in the streets. Subway stations in Hamburg
will be closed from approx 1 to 5 a.m. regularly. Hamburg senate never
approved of this and instead put up containers and other accomodation
which many dishoused persons do not use (due e.g. to rigid controls, and
most of those quarters will turn people away who have consumed alcohol
even in minor amounts, also theft seems to be a common problem there).
This discussion in Hamburg senate has also brought up the idea to force
dishoused persons to take up work (like sweeping streets or similar jobs) in
return for receiving social security payments which is put forward again by
some Hamburg politicians now. Seems they cannot well remember the past and
"work will make you free" ....

To close with something positive:
During recent elections to the parliament in the German federal state of
Lower Saxony, dishoused persons were given the opportunity to vote for the
first time.


This is a report by A-Infos Germany
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