History of Christiania
The Adventure About Christiania
Christiania’s more than thirty-year history is motley and long with battles, victories and defeats. Many of the people who helped start the experiment are no longer here. But the dream of a life in freedom and the idea of a resident-run city lives on.
People from far and wide still feel drawn to the haven’s magical mix of anarchy and love.
The adventure starts in 1969/70, when a group of Christianshavn residents several times set fire to or overturned the wooden structure on the corner of Prinsessegade and Refshalevej, right by the Grå Hal. Now the old bridge quarter will have a playground for the neighborhood’s children and a green open space between the residential blocks. However, the military and the municipality rebuild the wooden structure, after which it is knocked down again – which is repeated several times in those years.
The Christianshavn gradually get their playground, while the hippies, the slum stormers and the others get their haven, when the plank work was knocked down for the last time in 1971, when people started to populate the barracks.
At the same time, the alternative newspaper Hovedbladet is published with the headline “Emigrate with Line 8”. The article tells about the abandoned military buildings at Bådsmandsstrædes Barracks and contains a lot of ideas for using the area – not least as housing for the countless young people who can’t find anything to live in. The slum storms and the alternative forces from the New Society’s Thy camp in 1970 also miss a place to realize their dreams.
The result will be a massive immigration of people who want to create a different life based on community and freedom, and thus Christiania was born.
The case becomes political
The police try several times to remove people, but have to give up because the area is too big and there are too many people. Instead, the safe haven becomes a political issue that ends up in the House of Commons.
Christiania enters into an agreement with the Ministry of Defense in 1972 regarding payment for electricity and water and is given the political stamp of a “social experiment”. An idea competition must be held on the future use of the area, and the experiment can continue until the result is available.
Already the following year, 1973, however, the government changes and thus also the political mood. Now Christiania must be cleared again.
NATO is holding a summit in Copenhagen. The theater group Solvognen from Christiania stages a total theater with hundreds of actors. The “NATO army” occupies Denmark’s Radio and other key positions, as if Denmark were occupied by NATO troops. For many hours the nation hovers in uncertainty as to whether it was right.
The “NATO soldiers” exercise in real soldier fashion, and in the evening they entertain great lottery tickets with a “NATO Cabaret”. A few months later, the gender-role cabaret “Smæk for Skillingen” is performed in Den Grå Hal. The cabaret then goes on a nationwide tour, where the Solvognen angers its audience.
Christiania has now organized itself into smaller areas with local self-government. The joint meeting is for all residents the highest authority, and while the garbage team works with waste sorting, the Forge is working on furnaces from old oil barrels.
At Loppen, there are regular music events, with everything from Turkish music to amateur rock and traditional jazz. A diversity that will become the hallmark of the venue.
Theater and political actions characterize Christiania’s first years. In 1974, 12 small lists from Christiania stand in the electoral association Valgborgs Favn for the municipal elections. Valgborg wins a mandate, and Kvindelisten gets it.
Tine Schmedes takes her child to the Citizens’ Representative meetings, and when she breastfeeds the child in full public, an outcry is raised in all the country’s media. A mega Barricade party is organized with the participation of many artists, politicians, theater groups, well-known and unknown bands – and with a procession, field service, guard parade, front cinema, display house, children’s party, information booths, social policy consultation and Solvognen’s “Peking Opera” in Den Grå Hal.
The first short film about the fight for the free city, “Law & Order in Christiania” by the filmmaker Nils Vest, is shown as a pre-film in a number of cinemas around Denmark.
The Santa Claus army of the solar car takes over the city for five days and distributes gifts in the department stores to the great delight of children and the elderly. Of course the Santa Clauses are arrested, but the picture of the police beating a Santa Claus appears in all the country’s newspapers.
Clearing threats and the Peasant Army
In 1975, Christiania becomes a toss-up between Copenhagen Municipality and the state. But the Danish Parliament finally decides that the area must be cleared by 1 April 1976 at the latest.
In the meantime, Christiania has set a lot of things in motion. Communal bath, children’s house, waste sorting and recycling. Community shops and workshops are growing up, while Solvognen is building “Elverhøj” in the Grå Hal. The adventure show helps to raise awareness of the sanctuary and, with 40 sold-out performances, is the season’s biggest theater success in Copenhagen. Christiania mobilizes a peasant army from Jutland for the upcoming confrontation with the state. Well-known rock groups of the time record a record in support of Christiania. It will be a huge sales success.
But on April 1, nothing happens. The Folketing had at the last minute postponed the clearing of Christiania. Instead, 1 April becomes ‘April Fool’ – a huge party that manifests what the alternative Denmark is capable of.
On July 4, Solvognen performs an Indian demonstration in Rebild Bakker at the USA’s 200th birthday event. 40 Indians on horseback and several hundred demonstrators take part in the protest against American policies towards minorities, the poor and the Third World. The violent arrests of the Indians by Danish officers are seen all over the world. The action ends in Den Grå Hal, where Christians, Indians and Greenlanders party.
In 1975, the National Museum publishes a book about the alternative urban environment in the sanctuary, and a number of well-known urban planners and architects speak enthusiastically about the Christiania idea. In the same year, the sanctuary of Juleløses holds Christmas for the first time in the Opera. Juleløse’s Christmas is an important tradition, which every Christmas Eve feeds several thousand people free of charge in Den Grå Hal.
Christiania’s lawsuit against the state
In 1976, Christiania brought a case against the state for breach of promise. The agreement from 1973 on an ideas competition for the area’s future use has not yet been signed in 1976, and therefore the Christians believe that the decision to clear the area is a breach of promises. The sanctuary is skillfully defended by the red lawyer Carl Madsen, who combines law and politics in his fight for freedom. A Rainbow Army is organized. Everyone in Denmark is invited to come to Christiania, and many thousands flock.
The trial is to prevent a clearing, but in 1977 Christiania loses the case, which is appealed to the Supreme Court.
In 1977, the Christiania exhibition “Love and Chaos” is organized at Charlottenborg, and a gigantic work festival cleans up and repairs the sanctuary. Christiania releases its own support record “Vores Musik”, as a presentation of the sanctuary’s many poets and musicians.
Solvognen performs two musical performances at the same time:
“Soldiers’ Comrades” in a circus tent on the Prärien and “Merchant Life” in Den Grå Hal.
In 1978, the case is lost at the Supreme Court, and Christiania mobilizes again. A plan to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people in defense of the sanctuary is put into action, and Christiania again stands for municipal elections. The Christianialist gets a new representative in the Citizens’ Representation, Thorkild Weiss Madsen, who quickly becomes known for his fiery speeches against housing speculation and bulldozer remediation.
Parliament now decides that a local plan must be drawn up for the area and that the site must be normalised, without specifying how or when.
New threats lurk
In Copenhagen, the police are on the hunt for junkies and hash dealers. At the same time, heroin is introduced in earnest in Denmark. This is clearly felt in Christiania, where the hash trade is growing and the number of junkies is increasing. Christiania tries to cooperate with the police to clear the hash market of junk, but is robbed by the police management, who instead launch a large-scale raid against the hash pushers.
Fristaden’s community is now taking matters into their own hands and initiating a reduction for junkies and actions against the junk pushers. It culminates in 1979/80, when a blockade is implemented against the junk. The junkies at Christiania get the offer to downsize or move. The pushers with hard substances are physically thrown out. Learned from the experience of the Junk blockade, Solvognen performs the musical “The White Castle” in Den Grå Hal. Total theater about junk’s ways, economy and connection with the arms industry.
Although in many ways these are dark years, the culture is flourishing. From 1978, the rock machine became the home of Copenhagen’s burgeoning punk scene. Right up to 1981, when rocker terror puts an end to the activities. Cabaret life flourishes in the Opera, the Rock machine and the Moonfisher, and in 1981 a Christiania cabaret goes to Italy – invited by the city government in Modena. In the same year, the Christianias Sports Club, CSC, is established as a meeting point for a wide range of sports activities.
In 1981, the government appointed the consulting firm Møller & Grønborg to draw up a plan for the future use of the area. While the Christianites are building and rebuilding, planting gardens and having children, the consulting firm gives birth to a report that proposes Christiania developed as an experimental city with extensive self-government.
In the same year, the country gets a conservative-liberal government, and a violent frenzy against Christiania starts in Sweden. The haven is accused of being the Nordic drug center and the root of all evil.
Christiania responds again with the campaign “Älska Sverige”, where Christians “take over” Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö with processions, cabaret and art exhibitions.
Politically speaking, Christiania will be forgotten for the next few years. In return, it gives the sanctuary the opportunity and peace to create new, collective workplaces and work with the visions.
Support events for the Indians at Big Mountain in the USA and the Aassiviq conference on Greenland are held in Den Grå Hal as an expression of Christiania’s kinship with other ethnic groups. All in all, many international contacts with the alternative environments were created in those years.
In the summer of 1986, Christiania publishes “Voilà”. The report confirms that Christiania is able to take care of the building maintenance and maintain the joint institutions, subject to a certain form of tax exemption for the companies. They must instead pay their profits into Christianias Fælleskasse, which then distributes the shared funds. In 1987, some old Solvogns people meet with new energy for a total theater project “Ih – Du milde kineser” in Den Grå Hal.
In 1987, the government comes up with an “Action plan for the legalization of Christiania”, and a steering group is set up to mediate contact between Christiania and the authorities. In collaboration with the Ministry of Defence, CA-Byg is renovating the chimneys and roofs.
Legalization and normalization
The authorities are pushing to legalize – not least pub operation. Christiania’s pubs try to negotiate a joint grant, and it ends with the pubs being closed by the police in a large-scale operation at the beginning of 1989.
After this, some pubs first get a right of use agreement with their area and then an individual pub grant from the authorities.
In the same year, the “Act on the use of the Christiania area” is adopted in the Danish Parliament. The law must form the legal basis for a “normalization” of Christiania in close connection with the local plan drawn up by the Ministry of the Environment in 1989.
The plan divides Christiania into two parts. A “rural” part, which must be cleared of habitation, and a city part which, in a regulated and legalized manner, can experiment further without actual deadlines.
A large action led by the women of the sanctuary closes the original main gate with a wall and at the same time a yellow line is painted in Pusherstreet, forever delimiting the hash trade here. At the same time, the deserted Prairie will be transformed into a green area with a playground, sports fields and Carl Madsen’s paved shopping area.
In the summer of 1989, Strictly Underground’s cultural enterprise was kicked off with “Skatebeat 89”, and in Den Grå Hal large parts of the new Danish hip-hop scene gathered with music, dance and graffiti. Vote 4 Truckers, a Christiania rap band, release the support single “Christiania – Fingrene vek”.
In connection with the administration of the law, the Ministry of Defense sets up a Christiania secretariat, which in 1990 publishes the document “Aims and means for legalizing the Christiania area”. Fristaden’s residents send a total of 90 objections to the local plan and are strongly opposed to the planned division of Christiania and the many homes that must be removed, as it presupposes.
In response to the threats, some friends of Christiania organize in 1990 ‘A declaration of love’ with all kinds of pranks, festive episodes and surprising features all over Christiania, and many artists stand up for. All people are invited to experience for themselves the everyday life of the sanctuary and the way of life that the Christians fight for. Nils Vest broadcasts the film “Christiania – you have my heart”, a personal document about life in the sanctuary during the first 20 years.
In dialogue with the authorities
A magazine for Denmark about Christiania’s reality sees the light of day. “Nitten” must show a different Christiania than the image that the bourgeois press has tried to project throughout the 80s – the image of a district in disrepair with violence and crime.
Christiania’s image is an ecologically oriented city with a low economy and widespread public governance.
The Christiania secretariat wants to enter into an agreement with Christiania on the use and maintenance of land and buildings, and the sanctuary is setting up a contact group to act as a mouthpiece to the authorities.
Christiania is celebrating its 20th birthday, while the final pieces are falling into place regarding the framework agreement with the authorities. Joint meetings and area meetings use a lot of energy on long and heated discussions, but the agreement only lasts for one year and must be renegotiated every year.
The Ministry of Defense requires that building maintenance be promoted. Christiania’s community has already established a technical administration that speeds up the building technical renovation. The building office provides advice and guidance and carries out a number of major maintenance tasks. The more than 100-year-old water system is being repaired by SPAR2, the local water saving group, resulting in drastic reductions in water consumption and bills.
Christiania publishes its Green Plan as a visionary alternative to the local plan. Fristaden’s plan shows a green city in close interaction with nature. With water recycling, kitchen waste compost, renewable energy, houseboats in the moat and youth housing made of peat and soil.
In 1992, the rent increases, but Copenhagen Municipality will not pay the full amount for assistance clients. The authorities fear that they are giving “business support” to the sanctuary’s many new businesses. After long negotiations based on Christiania’s budget – which documents our financing of “public” institutions and consumption meters at the companies, the municipality accepts the rent.
Cultural life flourishes with Russian rock in the Opera, techno in the youth club, Theater War in the Rockmachine, cabaret and theater in the Bøssehuset. Thousands visit Strictly Underground’s concerts in Den Grå Hal, and there is a football tournament at Fredens Eng. Curious tourists from all over the world study Christiania bikes or explore the ramparts.
Outside the wooden fence, Christiania’s Girl Guard stands up as “Conservative Women for the Union” to scare voters into voting no. As you know, it succeeds – initially…
Occupied by the police
In September 1992, the Copenhagen Police began a campaign to clean Christiania of hashish. The Christiania Special Patrol consists of 70 police officers who monitor the area around the clock in an 18-month long, violent campaign. Hash sales are not significantly affected, but the police several times create life-threatening situations with cane soup and tear gas, which trigger trouble and barricades in Prinsessegade.
In particular, the persistence of the civil officers affects many innocent people with the visitation of school-seeking children and random, unsuspecting tourists – even the local priest is searched several times. Therefore, in the spring of 1993, Christiania puts all its efforts into the action week “Week 12 against Violence”. Clowns, street theatre, small groups in dark blue overalls with the IDIOTI badge on their backs instead of POLICE, video documentation, legal group and cooperation with lawyers and Amnesty International must stop police violence.
Throughout 1993, an extensive dialogue took place between residents, Christianshavn residents, lawyers, Amnesty International, the Danish Parliament’s legal committee, the media, the steering council – even the police leadership, but the Christiania patrol maintains its iron grip on the safe haven.
At the same time, the National Archives feels the need to record Christiania’s history and requests historical material for a special Christiania archive.
The building office carries out a comprehensive building registration. Antropopip The company performs “Animals with clothes on” in Den Grå Hal. Christiania’s Action Theater receives Christiania and EU support for continued EU resistance throughout the country. The Free Hash movement celebrates May 1st with a big Smoke-In in Fælledparken. Loppen is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a living innovator of the music scene.
The annual negotiations with the Ministry of Defense end with an agreement on a municipal contribution corresponding to the property tax. The sanctuary will be a study object for AKF, the County and Municipal Research Institute. The researchers conclude that the authorities can learn from Christiania and that the experience can be used in many places in the world. At the end of the year, 1½ years of police action culminates with raids and violent arrests at the otherwise idyllic Christmas market. After a crisis meeting between the sanctuary’s residents and Minister of Justice Erling Olsen, Christmas peace is secured, as the Christiania patrol dissolve.
At a meeting in the spring of 1994 with the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Justice, the tone is harsh, and there is a threat of clearing the area if the residents do not get control of the hashish market. Christiania regrets that the Danish Parliament has no control over Danish drug policy.
Amnesty International and Danish nurses demonstrate massive use of illegal police violence, and after video documentation and extensive debate, the use of the so-called leg lock by the police is prohibited.
The Danish Parliament deals with the Danish drug policy without any kind of new thinking. In the spring of 1994, it triggers the world’s first “hash strike”, when Pusherstreet stops work for five days in protest against the failed drug policy. Christians, pushers and customers take action with smoke-ins, signature collections, support demonstrations against hard drugs at Vesterbro and the Plant a seed campaign.
The world press and the Minister of Justice visit Christiania to study the phenomenon. After this demonstration, the police give up patrolling Christiania for a long period.
Self-management is flourishing
Månefiskeren reopens without alcohol and quickly becomes one of the city’s most popular cafes. At the UN’s Social Summit, Christiania participates in the NGO conference on Holmen, while activists from all over the world visit, study and live in the sanctuary.
In 1995, the number of children has grown so much that parents and activists begin the construction of the fourth children’s institution in the area. The ecological children’s house with solar collectors and mullokum is the first new construction for a common purpose in Christiania and will be named Rosinhuset.
A lot of effort is spent on “pay your rent” campaigns, discussions of the framework agreement and the relationship with the governing council and the authorities. The governing council introduces a “conversation forum” between the police and Christians, but since you can only talk to the police leadership and not the rank-and-file officers, Christiania rejects the idea. After that, the Governing Council feels that it has done what it could, and it dissolves itself at the end of 1995.
At New Year 1995, the Minister of Defense states that Christians can be considered “model citizens” when it comes to payment for public services.
The culture is alive and well with the new Christiania bands URD and Babajay, both releasing CDs. In Den Grå Hal, in Drakeklubben, in the Opera, outdoors on Dyssen and on Fredens Eng, techno and jungle raves bring together thousands of young people from all over Europe. At the same time, Strictly Underground does concerts with the hottest bands of the time such as Blur, Green Day, Rage Against The Machine and the underground’s best hip-hop groups.
The residents of Fredens Ark repair a fungal damage in the million range.
The sanctuary becomes a virtual village and manifests itself on the web with www.christiania.org. With the help of the sanctuary’s most talented geeks, Christiania’s website becomes a gathering place on the information highway for many private and shared websites that represent the sanctuary’s diversity in the digital realm. To date, well over a million users have visited the site. The electronic revolution also means that Christiania quickly establishes a local network with more than 300 users.
Grassroots culture is growing
In 1996, the Ministry of Defense and Christiania made an agreement on a “development plan” as a compromise between the local plan from 1989 and Christiania’s Green Plan. At the same time, Christiania is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a blast of a party with clowns, theatre, exhibitions, concerts, the support plaque “25 Years Birthday”, the picture guide Christiania for 25 years and much more. The anniversary party in Den Grå Hal is a historic marathon show with speeches by old front-line fighters, artists and other supporters – both from outside and inside. Christiania’s first children, a historical play, ‘The Suss of the Spirits’, painters, the country’s longest layer cake and much more. Christiania’s Kulturforening becomes a cultural bridge-builder between the free city and the wider world by taking the difficult topics of the time such as violence and pacifism, hashish and economics up for debate and treating them in an artistic and unconventional form.
In 1997, Christiania introduces its own local currency, a Wage with a value of 50 Danish kroner. The Christiania coin can be used for any transaction in the area’s shops, businesses, bars, cultural centers and for payments to local institutions.
Christiania’s Culture Association conducts the first major hash hearing, which will be the most comprehensive discussion of the hash and hemp issue in Danish history. Until 2001, four expert hearings were held respectively in Den Grå Hal, in the Folketing’s County Hall and at Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium, where the hearing was conclusive: Policemen, professors, farmers, writers, doctors, judges, artists and other good people unconditionally support the legalization of cannabis.
In 1998, Christiania’s Girl Guard opens the newly renovated Dyssebro. Friends of Christiania, Naverne, have improved the old military bridge and built two semi-circles with benches in the middle.
Rampen på Prærien will be Copenhagen’s first covered meeting place for both local and international skaters. The scene is built and run by the young people themselves with the support of ALIS, a Christiania company that has started to produce and sell high quality clothing and skateboards.
In 2000, Loppen is recognized and supported as a regional venue by the Ministry of Culture. CSC, Christiania Sports Club will have its own clubhouse at the bottom of the Starship.
Christiania’s largest cultural venue, Den Grå Hal, is being updated with 33 new audience toilets. The solution is environmentally sound, where urine is separated and reused, while a disabled toilet functions as a multi-purpose toilet. In the same year, Bob Dylan performs two days in a row to an enthusiastic audience at completely sold-out concerts. This year’s edition of Denmark’s most hysterical beauty contest “Miss World” will be held in Den Grå Hal. The drag festival is a tribute to all the crazy from the part of the gay community that absolutely will not be normalized.
Civilian government demands Christiania shut down
In 2001, Denmark gets a bourgeois government. The Liberals and Conservatives, with the support of the ultra-nationalist Danish People’s Party, have a solid majority. The bourgeois alliance declares war on Christiania and for the first time in the life of the free city there is a hostile bourgeois majority in the Folketinget. The goal is normalization through the construction of 300 new homes and individual agreements on ownership and rental of the homes – in short, a death sentence for Christiania’s community, which is based on a collective right of use.
Christiania turns 30 with a party in Den Grå Hal, where the Solvognen “resurrects” with music and songs from the musical “Elverhøj”. Thousands of friends of all ages and from all over the world flock to the party, which lasts for over a week. Although all cultural venues are open, it is difficult to accommodate the many birthday guests. At the same time, the world press turns up in large numbers to cover the event in the small metropolis. Christianias Pigegarde’s tireless and irresistible efforts over ten years are celebrated in an anniversary book. In the same year, Pigegarden honors the special Danish guard culture with a historic Tattoo at Kastellet.
As the flow of tourists to Christiania grows and Holmen is developed, the traffic in the area becomes heavier. The traffic group is therefore starting to establish car parks around Christiania. In the period up to 2004, more than 100 parking spaces will be constructed. At the same time, a green garden facility shaped like a snake will be established for the enjoyment of younger and older neighbors in Voldboligerne.
As Christiania’s spiritual contribution to the Danish EU presidency in 2002, an international Bund meeting will be held at Fredens Eng for four days with presentations from the world’s natural people, writers, artists and homeless people from near and far. Christiania’s Jazzklub opens in the Opera and quickly becomes a cult venue for both artists and jazz enthusiasts. Already the following year, the Jazz Club participates in the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, where many big and small stars meet for a jam session in the Jazz Club’s cozy premises.
In 2003, HalfMaschine occupies Den Grå Hal. Five days of concerts, video art, dance and interactive experiments inspired by the fusion of man and machine. The international group of young artists repeats the meltdown the following year.
While civil servants and politicians rattle around with threats of closure, the Association for the Beautification of the Capital City awards its diploma for 2003 to Christiania for the district’s long and tireless efforts to create and develop alternative housing options. In the same year, Christiania’s Kulturforening receives the Grassroots Foundation’s anniversary award.
Closure threats and mobilization
Several books about Christiania are hitting the streets, written by Christians, former residents and journalists. A new tourist guide in English opens the door for foreigners. Jacob Ludvigsen publishes his thick history book, which collects the story of Christiania. The residents’ advice Herfra og Videre turns 25 years old and publishes an anniversary publication with the experiences from the social grassroots work.
30 years after the Danish Parliament’s decision, the government’s Christiania committee publishes an ideas competition about the area’s future use. The goal is to stop the social experiment so that the area can be built up and normalized. At the same time, the officials emphasize that the residents of Christiania are generally poorer, less educated and more unemployed than the rest of the population.
As an offensive response to the government’s incitement, a circle of activists publishes a status of self-administration over ten years. The report “Christiania at work: From vision to reality” documents that self-management works and has created a well-functioning city with lots of future possibilities.
Graffiti painters from all over Europe gather for the “Meeting Of Styles”, which is held in Den Grå Hal. While bourgeois politicians scold, the young artists exchange experiences and the guests have the opportunity to see and enjoy the new graffiti art on the planking around Christiania.
The birthday in 2003 is celebrated by reopening the old main entrance. A large environmental station is opening at Carl Madsens Plads, where both Christianshavn residents and Christians can drop off waste. A new café opens in the Loppebygningen with handicrafts and information in friendly hash and alcohol-free surroundings.
Nils Vest publishes the film “Law and Order in Christiania 2” as a direct continuation of his film “Law and Order in Christiania” from 1974. The theme is again the authorities’ threats of closure and Christiania’s internal mobilization.
As the police intensify their campaign, Pusherstreet chooses to strike against the government’s failed hashish policy and large camouflage nets are placed over all the stalls to make the hashish trade less visible. It was the demands of the politicians! To preserve the smoking culture for posterity, the pushers donate a decorated Pusher booth to the National Museum. According to Gallup, 68 percent of Danes think it is a good idea to consider the hash shop as cultural heritage. And three out of four Copenhageners want to preserve the sanctuary.
In the summer of 2003, there is a folk festival with a large music and entertainment event at Fredens Eng, where a number of artists and individual politicians show up to show their love for the sanctuary and the values it represents. At the same time, Christiania opens its doors for the first Open House Day, where institutions, private homes and businesses welcome visitors. Up to 100,000 Danes visit the sanctuary. Soon after, the success is repeated with another Open House Day.
At the end of the summer, Christiania, in collaboration with friends from all over the country, organizes a “People’s Procession for the Right to Difference”. Participants arrive in special trains and buses and the people’s procession lays a wreath at the Freedom Monument and in front of Christiansborg a long line of artists will perform, with Kim Larsen and Savage Rose at the head, together with some brave politicians in solidarity with the safe haven. Afterwards, there is a “cultural orgy” with free musical and artistic performances on 22 stages around the sanctuary. Nina Hagen performs
in Den Grå Hal and Steppewolves reunite and play on a pontoon stage in the lake. Around 70,000 people visit Christiania on this day.
The government’s idea competition runs completely into the sand. No recognized architects, thinkers or contractors participate. Only 17 more or less dubious proposals have been submitted, of which only eight meet the formal competition conditions and they are all rejected by the judging committee, who must nevertheless hand out 850,000 kroner in consolation prizes.
In a necessary choice between business or Christiania’s survival, the pushers choose to remove the hash stalls at the beginning of 2004. But that does not prevent the police from carrying out a mass arrest and massive patrolling, so that Christiania once again appears as an occupied area. The police detain a number of residents and remand them for a record length of time. As is a firm tradition, Amnesty International’s annual report must once again criticize the Danish police’s extensive use of pre-trial detention. But for the first time in Christiania’s history, the obvious hash trade is gone.
Towards the goal of the future
The campaign to defend Christiania is being intensified with support from many outsiders. “Save Christiania” shirts become a nationwide fashion phenomenon. A group of young people from, among others, Global Roots form a powerful grassroots organisation that defends Christiania from the outside.
Christiania moves out into the city and sets up a temporary embassy in Christianshavn in the Department of Contemporary Art. The diplomatic activities consist of a large exhibition and a well-attended series of lectures. A beautiful and richly illustrated picture book about Christiania’s housing is published. Several support CDs are released with both popular, popular and unknown artists.
Christiania receives legal assistance for the negotiations on a fund model that can ensure the sanctuary’s autonomy, collective right of use and development opportunities. The new negotiating opponent is a committee of officials from the Palaces and Estates Agency, as Christiania is transferred from the Ministry of Defense to the Ministry of Finance from one day to the next. The Municipality of Copenhagen plays a role by employing a former resident as a special Christiania consultant. Christiania is now fielding the strongest negotiating group to date. The lawyers and eight Christians are supported by a background group of more than 30 activists who represent all parts of the sanctuary’s community.
An extensive collection states with several hundreds of thousands of signatures that Christiania must continue as a social experiment and preserve its self-management and cultural values. Those thoughts are also supported by the Academy Council for the Fine Artists, who believe that the urban experiment must be allowed to live and show its future strength or weakness. The same objections come from Christiania’s Neighbors and Christianshavn’s Local Council, who turn against “normalisation”.
Despite the obvious opposition from the government and the police, Christiania is celebrating its 33rd birthday by opening a new Youth Club in nice bright rooms at the top of the Loppebygningen. The youth club will be the fifth institution for children and young people and it naturally complements the sanctuary’s various offers for new generations of Christians. An international peace festival is held at Fredens Eng, where Indians, Tibetans, Africans and various nationalities meet to send good energies to other conflict-ridden areas on Mother Earth. On the birthday, creative ideas publish “Christiania’s architecture”, as a large and visionary conceptual plan for a series of new homes – both in Christiania and as townhouses in the surrounding canals.
The adventure is not over…
Original article at https://www.christiania.org/info/christianias-historie/