In the heart of SO 36, as the neighborhood in Kreuzberg is known by many, the musician Rio Reiser, who died almost 26 years ago, got a square named after him. The square on Oranienstraße, popular with left-leaning alternative crowds with its many pubs, bars and clubs, was previously called Heinrichplatz.
Berlin names square after musician Rio Reiser
The self-proclaimed "King of Germany" is being honored with a square in Berlin: Rio-Reiser-Platz in Kreuzberg was ceremoniously inaugurated on August 21.
German music legend gets his own square
Ralph Christian Möbius (1950-1996), known under his stage name Rio Reiser, was the lead singer of the band Ton Steine Scherben, one of the most influential German language rock band of the 1970s. As vocalist and lyricist, Reiser was known for his highly politicised and emotionally charged songs that would later inspire leftist and punk movements in Berlin. In the 1980s, Reiser embarked on an extremely successful solo career that made him a household name in Germany.
Inauguration Ceremony with Music and Political Celebrities
In the neighborhood, which is still considered left-wing alternative, the long-awaited event was vigorously celebrated. Several thousand people came to the opening with live concerts, among them Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth. The Green Party politician was manager of the political rock band Ton Steine Scherben for several years in the 80s, whose singer Reiser was before his solo career. For some time, Roth and Reiser also lived together with other musicians in a farmhouse in North Frisia.
Claudia Roth recalls Reiser's political commitment
For Roth, the square's renaming is a symbolic return of Rio Reiser to a district where he was at home for years. She also recalled the singer's political commitment. He openly and self-confidently declared his homosexuality during a time when the general public was much less accepting and tolerant of gay people than today. This had been "pretty damn brave," Roth said. "For Rio, the private was always political," the late musician's close confidante said.
Renaming Decision Controversial with Residents
The plans of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district office to rename the square had already been published in the official gazette in April 2021. There were four objections from residents, which were rejected as inadmissible in October. The decision was controversial, for example because many believe that the male-heavy list of Berlin streets and squares should have been diversified by more places named after women.