Minutes of the Berlin LINKE Internationals 2021 Kickoff meeting, 12th January 2021

1. Elections

The following people were elected as our speakers:

  • Hanna Grześkiewicz (16 for, 0 against, 1 abstention)

  • Phil Butland (18 for, 0 against, 1 abstention)

Many thanks to our previous speaker, Judith Benda, who is expecting her second baby. We wish her and her family all the best.

2. Who are the Berlin LINKE Internationals?

Here is a brief description of who we are and what we do at. Some of the information is slightly out of date and should be updated.

Our main focusses are making the German left aware of the non-Germans living in Berlin (a quarter of the population) and practically introducing the international left to German politics.

During lockdown, most of our work is done online in this Mattermost group. The group has different channels for different projects. If you are not a member, please contact us at lag.internationals@die-linke-berlin.de and we will send you an invitation to join.

3. Key Issues of 2021

The main 2 events for us this year both take place at the end of September:

  • German local and national elections

  • Deutsche Wohnen & Co referendum on gentrification in Berlin

In addition we will be active in other campaigns for choice, against racism and other campaigns in Berlin which affect us as internationals. Some of our main topics will be addressed in the meetings we organise (see below).

We also support the reading groups being organised by the DSA on racism and on history and politics. For more information, contact Ted at tedknudsen@comcast.net. Izquierda Unida also organise a reading group in Spanish. More information from Jaime at jmporro@usal.es.

This year, we will also consider organising some sort of education introducing German politics to an international audience. We have set up a new channel to decide how we can do this.


4. Meeting on the Arab Spring (early February)

February sees the tenth anniversary of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. We are planning a public meeting with Hossam el-Hamalawy, one of the key actors in the Egyptian Spring, who is currently living in Berlin. We have also invited a female speaker from Sudan.

We are negotiating a date with the speakers. The format will be some form of Q&A session (first from the chair, then from the audience. We still need to discuss which questions the chair should put. Anyone who would like to help prepare the meeting should join this Mattermost group.


5. Other meetings in early 2021

We organise a monthly public meeting. Participants of today’s meeting suggested possible subjects and voted on their favourite themes for the next few months. The full voting are results are at the bottom of these minutes, but the 4 most popular subjects were as follows:

The meeting titles, speakers and dates will be decided in the appropriate Mattermost groups (follow the links above) – please join if you want to be involved. If no other urgent topics come up, these meetings will be once a month between March and June (not necessarily in the listed order).


6. Networking with other groups

As soon as lockdown conditions are lifted enough, we would like to organise an informal monthly meeting with food and chat in Bilgisaray in Kreuzberg. We’d cook together and each month, someone from a different group would make a presentation about a political topic.

Anyone interested in getting involved should join this Mattermost channel. If you’re interested in more general networking, we also have this channel


7. theleftberlin.com website

www.theleftberlin.com was launched in October as a website that is closely connected to the LINKE Berlin Internationals, although it has its own independent editorial board. For the last few months, it has concentrated on publishing one independent article a day.

This means articles written by us, articles written for us and articles which we have translated from a different language. We also publish a small number of articles which have already appeared online in the Global South but have not yet reached an audience in Europe.

Anyone who is interested in getting involved is invited to join the appropriate channels in this Mattermost group. If you are not a member of this group, contact theleftberlin@yahoo.com for an invite.

Last year, we strengthened the editorial and translation teams. The next goal is to build a team for the Newsletter which we send out every Saturday lunchtime. We also intend to relaunch the Website in March. If you are interested in joining the Newsletter team, please join this channel.

The editorial board meets for less than an hour every Sunday at 5pm German time. On the first Sunday of each month there is a longer open meeting to discuss more general issues. Anyone who is interested please contact us via the Mattermost group.


8. Anti-gentifrication in Berlin

Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen (DWE) is organising a referendum to appropriate the big landlords and cut rents. DWE recently set up a working group Right2TheCity specifically to involve non-Germans and people who prefer to speak English.

We wholeheartedly support the Right2TheCity group and many of us are active members. The group plans most of its activities on a Telegram group which you can join using this link. They also have a group organising translations which you can join using this link. And use this link to join the mailing list.


9. Festival Neukölln

Die LINKE Neukölln is planning a day festival in June and would like us to organise a workshop. Contact person is Antigoni, who is one of the festival organisers and also a member of our group. Anyone wanting to help prepare our workshop should join this Mattermost channel.


10. Summer Camp 2021

Every year we organise a Summer Camp in Hermsdorf Naturfreundehaus, a sort of youth hostel just outside Berlin. Summer Camp goes over 2 days with free accommodation. For more information about what happens, see this report from last year’s Summer Camp and this photo gallery.

The Naturfreundehaus books up very quickly, so we’d like to book it this week. If you have any suggestions about possible dates / dates we should avoid, please make them in this Mattermost channel.

Until now, we have the following thoughts:

  • before May and after September will be too cold

  • in July and August some people are away

  • it should not be too late in September as there are elections (and the referendum on gentrification) on 26 September

  • it should not be on 10 June as that is the provisional date for the Festival Neukölln

Please make your suggestions by Thursday night and we will try to make a booking on Friday morning.


11. Face-to-face meetings

One of the many negative aspects of Covid is that it’s been very difficult to meet each other face-to-face and to get to know each other better. We had hoped that this meeting could take place in Karl Liebknecht Haus but alas, it just wasn’t possible.

As soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted enough, we would like to organise something where we can all meet each other – maybe in the Luxemburg Saal in KL-Haus which is large enough to allow social distance. We’ll post more information in the Mattermost group and the Newsletter when we think we can do that.

Longer term, we’d like to get back to our old routine of monthly face-to-face orga meetings. Of course, that is not possible at the moment.


Appendix – voting results

Here are the votes for the different meeting topics

58%: The New Left in Latin America

58% Gentrification

58% How can the left be more radical?

52% Palestine in Germany

47% Green New Deal / Climate

41% Western Sahara (maybe with somewhere else)

41% Cancel the debt with the global South

35% Femicide

23% Precarious Labour