Safety in Marzahn/ Lichtenberg?

12 posts in this topic

I found student accommodation in the Lichtenberg and Marzahn districts of Berlin. The apartments/rooms themselves look like a good offer for my rather limited budget, but I've heard these districts are a no-go zone due to neo-nazis and other undesirables. The most recent info I have is from 2008 though. So I wanted to check - are these areas still really bad? What exactly are the problems there? I don't mind disadvantaged areas per se, but I don't want any trouble, especially from neo-nazis! I'm a late 20s female, white skinned but not blond (actually some Jewish heritage - not sure how obvious it would be) and I speak reasonable German. I will be riding a bicycle or depending on public transport to get around, so I will be visible (and might frequently be alone).

 

Am I crazy to consider living in these areas? Where else in Berlin are the neo-nazis a problem?

 

thanks! :)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you'll hear a variety of answers here. I should say at first, that I am not a "person of colour" and that I might be too oblivious to what others would feel. At the end of the day - the decision should be yours, not anybody else's, whether you feel comfortable in a certain place or not.

 

After having said that, I can say that I have never felt too unsafe visiting Marzahn (to go to the Gardens of the World; or to visit a friend who lives in Allee der Kosmonauten) or working in Lichtenberg (around the former Stasi HQ..., but I swear, I am not an IM). I even looked at flats around Fennpfuhl and Weissenseer Weg on one of my moves around the city. I have never felt it was dangerous to speak English and other foreign languages in these areas, not more than in the rest of Berlin. I have met lovely people who live in both areas.

 

The only woman I have ever met who was a real anti-Semite in my years in Berlin was a woman who lived in Schoeneberg and came originally from Baden-Wuerttemberg (and needless to say, she is representative of neither areas - she was just a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic). In general, by the way, unless you're an Israeli, I doubt it if the Germans have any way to know if you're Jewish (unless you tell them of course, and/or are a rabbi etc.). People here don't tend to discuss faith/religion/etc. unless they are in very good terms with you. And even if you're an Israeli, I would doubt it if they would care for your religion/heritage, although some might start a political discussion with you, as if you're now the ambassador of Israel on an interview. During the Bush Administration it also happened to Americans in some parts of Germany, so if Romney gets elected, they should get ready!)

 

In general, it should be said, that although one cannot dismiss Neo-Nazism and racism as a problem in modern European societies and especially in Germany, the number of cases of people being beaten up, mugged, or whatever, in Mitte, is much higher (see for example this statistics from 2 years ago, in German, but the darker the colour, the more criminality there is).

 

There is also a large Russian community in Marzahn and there is a very famous Vietnamese market in the border of Marzahn Lichtenberg.

 

So, Marzahn and Lichtenberg suffer first and foremost from an image problem.

 

But... I don't live there, do I?

 

- The place is boring

- The place is far from city centre

Combine these two, and understand that you're not going to easily enjoy Berlin's legendary culture and nightlife, or much social life outside the dorms. Either your poor friends will have to travel far to see you, or you'll have to travel for every museum/gallery visit; for every clubbing night; for every date with that nice person you have just met.

 

In addition, there is always a grain of truth in every stereotype. The two neighbourhoods you have mentioned are huge, and have all kinds of areas (e.g. including the quite expensive Karlshorst and some village like areas in Marzahn), but around the dorms in Allee der Kosmonauten, it is not a lot of fun to walk at night, an eerie feeling creeps upon you. The type of buildings in these areas are not very hospitable - I actually like Plattenbau and there are areas in Marzahn (and in Berlin in general) where you can see how great it is for families, when it works - but in the evening, around the dorms, this is certainly not the case.

 

In addition, these dorms are far from almost all universities and colleges, except for Alice Solomon or FHTW. If you're going to either one, Marzahn/Lichtenberg may still be a good idea, at least you'll be close to your place of study.

 

In my days, student dorms were also mostly for clueless international students (or very weird Germans), because renting in the city was very cheap and there was no reason that someone would pay for the dorms, the same price they can pay for a shared flat outside the dorm. Consequently, there was also not much of social life in the dorms. I think now with the increase in rents in Berlin, it might be more attractive to live in a dorm.

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good points from donno. The latter points are true for Marzahn, but not for entire Lichtenberg. Lichtenberg area not too far from the Ringbahn (stations Lichtenberg, Noelnderplatz, Frankfurter Allee...) are quite close to the city centre and there are even some nice locations in the neighbourhood. So, it depends. Personally, I would move to the western part of Lichtenberg, but not to the rest - or Marzahn.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great thanks donno and Toby G that makes a lot more sense now.

 

How long would it take (approximately) with the metro to get from western Lichtenberg to the centre of Berlin? Do the metros out to Lichtenberg run late at night as well, and are they safe to travel on alone?

:) thanks!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Difficult to answer, as Berlin has no real centre. Closest nightlife district is Friedrichshain, just five minutes away. Closest kind of inner city centre is Alexanderplatz, 15 minutes away. Historical center south of Friedrichstrasse, 20-25 minutes away... they run late at night at least on weekends. Safe? In general, yes, the number of incidents is still low. That said, I would be afraid of entering a completely empty wagon together with a group of drunken skinheads saturday morning around 4 o clock (which might happen, but of course not too often). going by bike it is normally totally safe though. with western lichtenberg I mean everything around (500 m distance) the stations Ostkreuz, Frankfurter Allee, Lichtenberg, Rummelsburg (not betriebsbahnhof rummelsburg), Magdalenenstrasse, Noeldnerplatz and storkower strasse/landsberger allee.

there are also many trams in Lichtenberg, but they take a rather long time anywhere. I would consider moving near a tram station maybe, if the next ceonvenient (see above) s-bahn or metro/u-bahn station is not more than one or two tram stations away...

 

very nice is especially the area around pfarrstrasse/kaskelstrasse (though there is no student accommodation) and around the Stadtpark and, to a lesser extent the Noeldnerplatz area.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I lived in Marzahn/Biesdorf for a year (Oberfeldstrasse) and had absolutely no problems. In fact, I loved it there and wouldn't have wanted to live anywhere else. Yes it's a bit remote, but as long as you're near to public transport then it's not really more than a 20min train journey into the city.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I agree that Marzahn is not as bad as some people tell, you're exaggerating. If you're lucky, you need about 20 minutes train ride only from Marzahn - not included are the walking distances and waiting for trains, which can be frustrating especially sundays, at night and when the S-Bahn strikes. Usually, it takes about half an hour to 45 minutes to get to, lets say, Friedrichstrasse, changing between trains (e.g. to get to Kreuzberg or elsewhere) not included. Not to mention the ugly Plattenbauten, but well, that is not Biesdorf (which is hellishly boring I think) of course and depends on your personal taste...

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reviving this old thread because I'm on the apartment hunt and see a lot of well priced places In Lichtenberg, nestled between S-Bahn Lichtenberg and S-Bahn Noldnerplatz. The location would be good for me since a lor of my friends are in Frederichshain and I work near Treptower Park. Currently in Kreuzberg.

 

I'm very brown and living solo, but from (pre-hipster) Brooklyn and don't scare easily. Has it calmed down in the past years for someone like me or would the potential racial bullshit make it not worth it?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's difficult to respond as racism can of course manifest itself at any time, but I would say (as a white Brit married to a non-white German citizen) that these areas have overall improved over the past two decades. You'll find Dönerläden these days where previously there were none, although it is still the case that these areas have nothing like the ethnic mix of Kreuzberg or Neukölln. 

 

I'd say the best approach would be to spend some time wandering around the area during the day and evening, popping into cafes and basically trusting your instincts if things don't feel right. Good luck!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my personal experience (I am not white, I'm not brown either though so my experience could differ vastly from yours) I have not had any issues in these areas of Lichtenberg straddling just outside the Ring Bahn (Storkower, Nölldnerplatz). The demographic is definitely more "homogenous" than say, Neukölln or East Kreuzberg, but I haven't faced any outright hostility. 

 

For the better or for the worse, I feel Friedrichshain has gentrified to the point of spilling over just outside of the ring into Lichtenberg for some time now. 

I still don't feel 100% comfortable in deep parts of Marzahn though, for instance. 
 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, ddn said:

For the better or for the worse, I feel Friedrichshain has gentrified to the point of spilling over just outside of the ring into Lichtenberg for some time now.

 

They are selling stylish 1 million EUR apartments in Lichtenberg nowadays, so I guess you are right.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are no no-go zones in Germany in the sense that is used in the Anglo-Saxon press (that is, police, fire services, ambulances are afraid to respond to calls there). The closest to that would be perhaps dealing with the aggressive demonstrators where one police department has to ask others for more resources (e. g. recently there was a 200-strong police opertaion to perform a search in the Rigaer Straße house in Friedrichshain).  

 

If you are interesting in the relative safety  by district and type of crime you can take a look at the criminal statistics, e.g. https://www.berlin.de/polizei/verschiedenes/polizeiliche-kriminalstatistik/ which additionally examines politically motivated crime, so including neo nazis.

 

Someone close to me was recently sexually assaulted when returning from “unsafe party-town” Kreuzberg, but the assault took place in a “boring safe” neighborhood of Schöneberg. So I’d say it’s more about situational awareness and less about the district. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now