Berlin and German Politics

Snowdenstraße, 10967 Berlin

Spotted this afternoon on what was once Schoenleinstraße, Kreuzberg: a political art action renaming the street Snowdenstraße, after the American whistleblower was granted asylum from Russia today.

There’s been tremendous support in Berlin for Edward Snowden. Last weekend hundreds marched in Kreuzberg, in favour of providing him with asylum–– part of a nation-wide protest which brought out ten thousand.

This isn’t the first time that there’s been an art-action of this kind. An anonymous masked artist posted his/her action online. (S)he changed the street sign of Schwedterstraße in Prenzlauer Berg also to Snowdenstraße. You can see the video (and the related article from the local press) here.

There’s plenty of graffiti in Berlin, but this kind seems to inspire, creepily, very quick official treatment. Apparently the police removed the sign in Prenzlauer Berg within twenty minutes of the action, and have charged ‘property damage by an unknown culprit’ (I wonder if all of us who have been bugged against our knowledge can also claim compensation now that that culprit is known).

Back in Kreuzberg, for at least the last three years the cross streets to Snowdenstraße have also been changed: Lachmannstraße to ‘Achman’ and Boppstraße to ‘Be-bop’ Straße. I wonder whether ‘Snowdenstraße’ will last as long. Somehow I doubt it.

Joseph Pearson

Joseph Pearson (1975) is writer and historian based in Berlin. Born in Canada, he was educated at Cambridge University, UK, where he received his doctorate in history in 2001. Since 2008, he has written The Needle, which has become one of Berlin's most popular blogs. His portrait of the German capital, Berlin, for Reaktion Press was published in 2017. His second book, My Grandfather's Knife, was published by HarperCollins and the History Press in 2022. He is also the essayist and blogger of the Schaubühne Theatre, one of Berlin's best known state-funded institutions. His writing has appeared widely in the press, literary and academic journals, and has been translated into Italian, German, French, and Arabic. Having taught at Columbia University in New York City, he lectures in Berlin at New York University Berlin (since 2012) and the Barenboim-Said Academy.

2 thoughts on “Snowdenstraße, 10967 Berlin

  • Almost three weeks later, the street in Kreuzberg is still named Snowdenstraße, despite thunderstorms and police. That’s, so far, 1500 X longer than the length of time the sign in Prenzlauer Berg survived…

  • Update: Wednesday 21st August, sign has been torn down. But it lasted more than three weeks!

Comments are closed.