20.000 signature to preserve gaslighting in Berlin

Over 20.000 signatures were collected for a petition asking the Senate of Berlin for a moratorium on the plans to replace gas by electric light and to develop a comprehensive master plan to preserve the majority of gas lanterns with gas light. The Ruling Mayor Klaus Wowereit delegated his Secretary of State Dr. Meng to receive the petition at a very brief meeting on 16 January. Representatives of all the major organisations involved in the campaign including the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz (member of Europa Nostra) were present, including Angus Fowler, representing DenkmalWacht Brandenburg-Berlin and Europa Nostra. Dr. Meng expressed criticism of the aim of the petition, which he considered to be not modern and not sufficiently concerned with environmental and financial considerations of importance to the City of Berlin.


The benefit concert in the autumn of 2012, organised by the well-known actor Ilja Richter for the gaslight campaign, was a great success and brought further publicity of the issue. The issue has also been further mentioned in the media. The leading Berlin newspaper the Tagesspiegel organised a questionnaire on gas light with the simple question: are you for the keeping of gas lights? The overwhelming majority of those taking part voted for keeping gas light and gas lanterns.

Petitions are also being organised in the individual districts of the city (Bezirke). If over 1000 signatures are collected then the district assembly (Bezirks-Veordneten-Versammlung/BVV) has to deal with the matter. In Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf the petition was successful and the BVV voted with a substantial majority that gas light and gas lanterns should be preserved. However the Senate does not allow this to affect its decisions made back in 2007, then without any effective participation of the citizens or organisations.

Over 1000 of the post-war lanterns, themselves historic monuments, have now been demolished. As a result of the long hard winter there has been no demolition since the end of 2012 but the further replacement will soon be advertised for bids by interested firms. However, in the Amtsgerichtsplatz, in central Charlottenburg, a human chain around threatened gas lanterns succeeded in stopping their demolition.

In the meantime, an expertise report on the heritage value and the need for listing gas lanterns with gas light as historic monuments is being prepared by conservation expert Dr. Dietrich Worbs and should be ready by March 2013.

The organisation Gaslicht-Kultur with support from other leading organisations is preparing an application to register Gas lanterns and Gas light in Berlin with the World Monuments Watch for the next List of 100 threatened sites in the World to be published in 2014. A nomination will also be made for the new programme launched by Europa Nostra “The 7 Most Endangered”.

The Berlin local Curatorium of the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz decided that the subject Gas lanterns and Gaslight in Berlin should be the topic of the Berlin Stiftungstag (Day of Foundations) in June 2013. Ideas are also developing for an international conference on Gaslight and Gas lanterns to be held as an earlier event in Spring 2013.

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