Innkeeper Andreas Strobel experienced Leipzig in the early 1990s as a city of many opportunities. If he were younger, he would move on today.
Innkeeper Andreas Strobel wonders whether only coked-up architects are still at work in Leipzig Photo: Katharina Muller-Guldemeister
"I moved to Leipzig after the fall of the Wall. I thought: If everyone runs to the bananas, I’ll run in the other direction. So I quit my job as a social worker in the Wendland; I knew Leipzig from visits. When the Wall fell, I wanted to know where the city was going. Unfortunately, everything went haphazardly. Leipzig was a book city and had a wonderful trade fair. Any other city would have made something of it.
Starting in 1997, I worked with right-wing youth in Grunau. Grunau was the second largest slab in the GDR. From doctors to craftsmen, everything was there. After the fall of communism, the intelligentsia left and the workers stayed. Some of the young people became rappers, some skaters, and some joined the right-wing movement. I took care of them until I couldn’t get along with my boss anymore. Then I switched to the restaurant business.
When the Theater der Jungen Welt moved into a circus tent on the Jahrtausendfeld in 2000, I did the bar. There were none on the whole Karl-Heine-Strasse, you can hardly imagine today. Since 2011 I have the Barabbas Inn in Connewitz, better known as "Forgiveness". As long as the expenses are covered, I’ll keep doing it. My life has never been about profit.
If I were younger, I might move on. Leipzig has not changed for the better. In the ’90s, small stores and coffee houses were the charm of the city center. Now they’ve been swallowed up by chains. The free spaces, the many little things have disappeared. There’s no longer any fat cream cake. Instead, there are crime dinners and events everywhere, and Leipzig no longer comes to its senses. And when I look at what’s being built, I think it was a coked-up architect without any degree.
As part of the taz’s "Future Workshop", every Friday, instead of the Neuland page, a separate page for Leipzig appears, the taz.leipzig: planned, produced and written by young journalists on the spot.
Nevertheless, Leipzig will be my last stop, I was already on the road too much. I moved out when I was 14 – my mother had got herself an Italian guest worker, and I couldn’t cope with the new situation. For three years I worked at a fair, then I took care of the horses in a circus. Because I wanted to prove to my mother that I could learn a trade, I became a street social worker. As a bachelor, I was sent from project to project. That was interesting, but being on the road all the time is not good for the body. Now people come to me."