“Tacheles” is an old Jewish word meaning to disclose, to reveal or to speak clearly. The slang meaning of the word was to bring something to an end.
Located in former East Berlin, the Art-Centre Tacheles is situated in a ruin in Berlin Mitte. The building itself was the entrance of the Friedrichstadt-Passage, a huge shopping mall built in 1907 and the area, a Jewish quarter in the past, has become a meeting point for people interested in arts and culture.
Within a relatively short time of its 1907 opening the department store went bankrupt, and in 1928 the house was taken over by AEG, which founded the Haus der Technik, a display and marketing space for their products. In World War II parts of the building were used by the Nazi Party, and on the 5th floor French prisoners of war were detained.
Partly damaged but not completely destroyed during the war, after 1948, one side of the building was slowly torn down, step-by-step, as the East Berlin government had no funds to restore it properly. Eventually the site became just a storage for building material. The very last structure still standing was planned to be demolished in April 1990. Which very well may have happened, if not for the artists.
In February of 1990 the building was discovered and taken over by a group of young artists from all over the world. After the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, a subculture which had its main focus on autonomy, spontaneity and improvisation arose in former East Berlin areas Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain. Artists and individualists from all over the world used the plurality of available free spaces to put alternative lifestyles to the test.
Due to the individualistic character of the building and the mass of creative activities taking place, the Tacheles soon became famous. Many international artists staged performances or concerts here, exhibited paintings, sculptures and installations.
Tacheles also attained recognition from the Berlin government and receives a varying amount of subsidy every year in order to help finance a part of its many projects. Other money is raised through commercial enterprises such as the cinema and the bar.
Update: Tacheles has since been demolished.
Know Before You Go
The last artists left Tacheles in 2012 and the building is inaccessible for public since then. You can see the now-empty building from outside only.U-Bahn Oranienburger Tor is right around the corner.