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Klara Franke, a local heroine

While Kraftwerk were rhapsodising over Germany’s sprawling new Autobahns, one that had been planned to run straight through Moabit’s Lehrter Straße in the 1980s left the area derelict, as residents and investors took flight. Klara Franke, a 60-something native Berliner, suddenly found herself one of the last residents in her seemingly doomed building at No. 32. Franke’s response was to visit the Kreuzberg punk clubs, grab the mic and ask, “Who needs somewhere cheap to live?” Those who followed Franke back to Moabit squatted in Lehrter Straße’s dilapidated Altbau, repairing the buildings and kick-starting an active community of artists, punks, alcoholics, musicians and Dragon bikies – Germans and Ausländer alike. She would attend their wild gigs and they would camp out on her living room floor listening to stories of old Berlin. This sassy nana ceaselessly crusaded for her poor fringes of the West, once infamously seizing the district mayor by the necktie in the middle of the street. Though she passed away in 1995, the mother of Lehrter Straße is remembered today through the Klara Franke Playground and Moabit’s annual Klara Franke Prize for civic engagement, awarded on her birthday.