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Photo essay

In Pictures: May 1st in Berlin

Take a closer look at Berlin's May 1st demos and street parties, as the city comes alive with revolutionary spirit.

In Berlin, Workers Day is a lot more than just a day off. An explosion of street parties, family-friendly festivals and sometimes violent demos as residents hit the streets for a day of dancing and demonstrating. Photos by Makar Artemev.

While yesterday’s festivities were the most peaceful the city’s seen in years, a number of police scuffles broke out between Kottbusser Tor and Hermannplatz.

Known as Erste Mai in German, Workers Day had been an official international holiday since 1889, when it was first proclaimed a holiday by the Socialist International at its founding congress.

But in Germany, it wasn’t until a 1987 Kiezaufstand (or ‘neighbourhood uprising’), when Berlin police attacked a peaceful Kreuzberg street festival, that the day became synonymous with violent uprisings.

The following year, an official protest – known as the Revolutionary May Day demonstration – was organised by Kreuzberg locals. The holiday has been celebrated accordingly since then, and with increasing frustration around gentrification and rent-increases, the May Day demos certainly aren’t going anywhere.