Eviction in progress in an occupied village in Germany against the coal industry. From lundi matin #366 (16/01/2023).
This morning, Wednesday January 11, around 9 a.m., hundreds of police cars surrounded a village occupied for almost 2 years in western Germany. Only a few metres from the camp, stands the open pit mine and its metal monsters gradually swallowing up agricultural land, villages, forests, for the benefit of the coal industry .
Lützerath is a ZAD structured according to German militant practices and does not necessarily resemble the image of a ZAD that we would have in France. After the very popular occupations of the Hambach and Danni forests, activists have developed a certain way of working in work groups (kitchen, infrastructure, care and first aid, press, info point, lookouts, etc.) Thus in Lützerath, it is possible to welcome thousands of people for festivals, group visits, demonstrations or mass actions… while maintaining a certain self-management throughout the camp. Permanently but especially on weekends, streams of students, activists from various associations, families or simply curious people come to spend a few days in the village. Between old squatted farms, tree houses, caravans and tents, new arrivals and new people are politicised every day. However, in this desire to attract and rally as many people as possible to the cause, the offensive spirit has gradually faded. The micro-institutions allowing the ZAD to run with so many people have also become places of informal hierarchies, difficult to question and alter (let us quote the traditional centralized general assembly). Here, therefore, there are few or no barricades, the police and security guards from the RWE company can approach the camp without incident, the actions and demonstrations are mainly pacifist.
We must also take into account the context of the German police, whose practices differ enormously from the French police. Repression is played out on the legal level, a posteriori, rather than physically and directly during clashes. Where the French police systematically draw batons, LBDs and grenades, the German police are more in favor of a doctrine of “de-escalation”, only rarely having recourse to these “sub-lethal” weapons. On the other hand, in certain regions of the country, including in particular North Rhine-Westphalia (where Lützerath is located), the statutory time for police custody is no longer 24 or 48 hours, but… 7 days. The law is very harshly applied and abused – it is not uncommon for activists occupying tripods or trees to disappear in prison for more than a year.
It is therefore in this restrictive context that Lützerath finds itself today, at the dawn of expulsion. Yet our comrades in the area seem determined to step up a gear and push the limits of what the state, its police and its propaganda impose on them. Despite the fact that the majority mode of action is still passive/defensive (sit-in, armlock, peaceful occupation of high structures, etc.); the latest news reaching us gives us hope.
- On January 2nd, the first police cars arrived to set up a camp specially intended for equipment and police personnel for the eviction. Despite the effect of surprise and stress, our Zadist friends reacted spontaneously by throwing stones and fireworks. Then in the following days, more organised, larger and more peaceful blockades held firm to somehow stop the installation of the “cops camp”. Day and night, the lookouts carefully followed the movements of the police and informed the whole camp in case of emergency. Thus, in parallel with daily life – cooking, washing up, meetings, constructions – continued mobilisation slowed and disrupted the police advance. The craze for building barricades is intensifying, while it was still at a standstill a few weeks ago!
- On January 8, during the march organised by Alle Dörfer Bleiben (one of the largest legal associations fighting against the mine), a spontaneous mass movement pushed back all the measures deployed until then by the police. A small group of activists began by robbing barriers near their camp, and when the police responded, the crowd gradually formed tight lines and advanced arm-in-arm. Although we cannot speak of clashes, the solidarity of the great number and the will to drive out the police lasted a whole afternoon, completely overflowing the police presence. Activists thus made their way to the nearest excavator, stopping its activity. Others formed a chain to place branches and tree trunks across the road. It was not until nightfall that police reinforcements came to put an end to the action.
- On the morning of January 11th, thousands of police officers invaded the ZAD from several points, marking the start of the bulk of the operation. In addition to traditional police vans, construction machinery, water cannons, armored vehicles, helicopters, drones surrounded the entire village. Inside and still at the time as this article is written, our comrades are holding on! They block police supply routes, occupy high structures; tripods and monopods, swings, treehouses, roofs of houses… our German zadist friends are not content just to block on the ground, but exploit the advantage of height to waste the time and money to the police. The expulsion is probably going to last several days…
The popularity of pacifist tactics in Lützerath is of course questionable. Based on the use of the body as a moral barrier, this form of passive resistance is widespread in many other militant circles in Western Europe. So far, the state and its propaganda has yet to push the boundaries of social acceptance and cannot assassinate activists without strong public reaction. But how long will this last? Having the choice of pacifism is a reflection of our privileged situation. As everywhere in the world already, the economic, social and ecological crises will intensify in the future, as well as the rise of repression and authoritarianism. Faced with such an uncertain future, it is important to question our self-defense practices, to consider defensive tactics and offensive tactics as complementary. In Lützerath, the practice of the black bloc for example, popular in France, is set aside or even boycotted, and not considered for its real strategic interest. Mass sabotage has just (last August) officially entered the modes of action of the Ende Gelände organisation and its mass blockades. Today, during the eviction of Lützerath, a molotov cocktail was thrown for the first time since the start of the occupation – a particularly rare phenomenon in Germany. Will offensive acts take on more importance in our imaginations and our practices of struggle in the future?
How to support Lützerath now?
Lützi still needs as much support as possible! The resistance organises itself both inside and outside the village; several camps have been established just a few kilometers from the ZAD to welcome anyone wishing to get involved. Camping, collective kitchen, supplies, repatriation of expelled zadists and group departures to join the blockades, organisation of decentralized support actions, pirate radio…
In major cities in Germany but also in Prague, Vienna and elsewhere in the world, demonstrations are planned in the coming days. It does not stop at Lützi: we are all concerned by the violent repression of the German government and we must show solidarity wherever the capitalist machine is destroying lives and gaining ground.
On January 14th, a massive demonstration will be held converging on Lützerath in order to support the occupiers and overwhelm the police forces on site. All the information to join the procession and the external support camps can be found on the Lützerath website: https://luetzerathlebt.info/
To follow the eviction live, there are several options:
- AALPunk pirate radio broadcasts between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. every day until further notice. Music, podcasts, interviews, debates, and live news flashes – in German and English: https://radio.nrdpl.org/aalpunk/
- also bilingual, 24-hour live news feeds on twitter, element, telegram, mastodon…: https://luetzerathlebt.info/ticker/
Lützerath will live! Support for all militant occupations around the world!
This article was written by a small group of French-speaking people who lived and resisted for a few months in the area (contact: laluttealutzerathsenflamme at riseup.net).