Postcard from... Berlin


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The Independent Online

Even on a grey midweek afternoon with temperatures below freezing, in Berlin’s Görlitzer Park it takes a mere 90 seconds after arriving before somebody asks: “Wanna score?”

Görlitzer, a small stretch of urban greenery in the midst of Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg district, has been labelled Germany’s biggest drug-dealing centre.

Roberto, a dealer who says he comes from the Gambia, is one of Germany’s growing number of refugees and unable to work by law. He said he had been dealing drugs in the park for four years.

Görlitzer was built on the site of railway sidings in the 1990s to provide recreational space for one of Berlin’s most densely populated boroughs.

But the park has become a major headache for Berlin’s city government. Its mushrooming drugs scene is seen as an unwelcome consequence of a record influx of refugees into Germany, but the traditionally Green party-administered borough is anxious not to lose the support of its “alternative scene” voters by being seen to clamp down hard on immigrants.

This month, the patience of the Berlin authorities ran out. Police have since radically stepped up their presence and patrol the park daily. But when the police arrive, the drug sellers simply scatter.