Once upon a time, a child was born in the year of 1971, and we named it Christiania. 

 

The child was growing old and could celebrate its 50 years birthday the day 26 September 2021. 

 

It was born in the morning where a group of young people occupied the empty barracks of Bådsmandsstræde housed the Royal Artillery Regiment, the Army Materiel Command and ammunition laboratories and depots. 

 

On this day this place has been most empty for several years, only a few soldiers had been there and the state has not configured what to do with this place. But we had a plan, and on the morning of the 26 of September we threw down the fence around and took the buildings in our possession. 

 

In this spring of 1971, the last soldiers left the Bådsmandsstræde Barracks in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen. Shortly afterwards the fence was toppled over by locals from the nearby slums. The Freetown is soon realised, and for lack of better ideas, the Danish government accepts it as a social experiment.

 

This place with the barracks is part of the area called Christianshavn and both the ramparts and the borough of Christianshavn were established in 1617 by King Christian IV by reclaiming the low beaches and islets between Copenhagen and Amager. 

 

After the siege of Copenhagen during the Second Northern War, the ramparts were reinforced during 1682 to 1692 under Christian V to form a complete defense ring. 

 

The western ramparts of Copenhagen were demolished during the 19th century, but those of Christianshavn were allowed to remain. They are today considered among the finest surviving 17th century defence works in the world. 

 

Time was changing and this area too. It became a city in the city, and was fined with people we could call, the crooked ones. People who were living alternative ways. 

 

But now we too was changing history. First on 4 September 1971, inhabitants of the surrounding neighborhood broke down the fence to take over parts of the unused area as a playground for their children. And then on 26 September the squatters took the place for living. 

 

We, the squatters, have in many years tried out to find houses for living, but are always thrown out by police again in a couple of days or weeks. 

 

This time we were trying to do something different, and from the Occupation and the next weeks we were establishing a group of people to make deals with the state and begin a development of the area with some rules. 

 

Quickly restaurants and music places was established and the houses we had occupied, we began to rebuild. 

 

Also Christiania becomes a rallying point for 1970s counterculture and for the multitude of movements that characterise the political life of the decade. Her name reached out to all the world. Every tourist who was vas visiting Denmark and Copenhagen should a tour around Christiania. 

 

She be involved in the commune movement, the women’s movement, the Gay Liberation Front, alternative theatre troupes and progressive rock all find space and scope to unfold within the open framework of the Freetown, greatly contributing to making Christiania’s struggle for survival fun, unpredictable and powerful.

 

So this was the birth of the baby, Christiania. And now it is celebrating 50 years of living and she can be very proud of what she has been involved with in all these fifty years. 

 

———-

 

This is also a part of my own life story. 

 

These days I was studying to be an architect, at the Arthall of Charlottenborg, and was running around all these places where all other young people were running to hear music, get a pibe of hashish and have social relations with each other. 

 

So I was knowing many of these squatters, as they were called, and I was therefore knowing their plans for these empty barracks and the area around. 

 

The group I was studying with, I talked with them argued about the importance to be within, and at last I convinced them to be with this occupation, and there establish us as a family, a collective of artist. 

 

Therefore this morning we were occupying one of the factories, as we was calling the “Sunwagon” (Solvognen in danish). It was a 3 floor building, and we were, in the next couple of weeks and months, installing electrical devices and water to build a kitchen and living rooms for us to live in. 

 

We were 9 people, me and my fiance, Poul, Kell (our cook), Hugo, Steffen and a couple more from our academic group. We sat us around the table with other people from the other families, collectives as the Lions, the Kløvedahls, Dyssen, and what they was named, which were established in other houses around the area. 

 

Together we were making plans for the area and the future. We also found a name for this free city – among many – and after votings between all who at this time was living there, we was chosing the name Christiania. 

 

But as the months were going, and the area was a “Free Town” (we were calling Christiania “Fristaden”) many criminals were using the area to hide their tefts costs and drugs. As a free town, we all want that hash should be free, but also that drugs should be banned. 

 

We therefore have a lot of problems with these groups of criminals. As a “free town”, anybody could come and go, and we couldn’t reject people not to come. If we were doing this, it was not a free town anymore. 

 

Also the police group, Uropatrulien, a special unit of policemen, was running around and was visiting people to see if they have hash or drugs in their pockets. 

 

We ourselves took the drugs, as opium, heroine etc from people, when we found some, and throw it out in toilets. Some been very angry, and so angry, that someone one early morning was throwing a fire bomb in through one of our windows. 

 

In some month before I was recognizing young boys and girls, who was running around with no place to live. They were only 10-11 years old, and I found out that their parents were divorced, alcoholic and does not want them at home. 

 

I was then in dialog with the officials at the commune and after some times they agree they could live by us in Solvognen. 

 

So in this morning with the fire bomb, it was landing under the bed of one of these kids. With all luck nobody was hurt or bothered, only we lost everything of our clothes, furnitures, private papers – and our house. 

 

After that I was opening the Tee House, some was joining me, and other from our collective was moving to some other places around. 

 

The Tee House was serving food in the daytime and all night alcohol and live music, with all the Danish groups who was playing at this time. Later on most of the music on Christiania was moving to the bigger place, the Grey Hall. 

 

After three/four years living in Christiania, I was finish my study with architecture and was beginning a designer and ceramic studying instead, was opening a workshop in Nørrebro, Mimersgade, and was moving from Christiania. 

 

I was only moving grounded that the criminals were more and more established on the area, and for all of us who want a democracy and free place for living, could not stop this. 

 

Many other was doing the same, and we only was given Christiania a few years more to live in. We saw a scenario where our government and politicians would close the area and throw all out who was living there. 

 

But I have to say: Christiania is a strong Lady, who have survived the strongest and most unbelievable experience in history, and can with proud celebrate her 50 years birthday. 💕 

 

So let’s celebrate Christiania together with a big hope that she also can celebrate a hundred years birthday. 💕 

 

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