The Iduna Center– Expression of Colonial, Racist Continuities
If you now let your gaze wander northward, you will see a tall, rather unspectacular, white residential building. Maybe it looks familiar to you – during the first Corona wave in spring/summer 2020, it was reported all over Germany. You can find a record of what happened in this article (German). We are talking about the Iduna Center, a building originally praised as a prestige building. This article in the Hannoversche Allgemeine gives an overview of the history of the housing complex (German). In recent years, it has become known that the living conditions in the Iduna Center, a building originally touted as a prestige property, have deteriorated significantly. According to a study by the University of Friedensau, a large proportion of the residents perceive the currently applicable Corona regulations (as of fall/winter 2021) as a severe restriction on their living situation. In some cases, they are no longer able to perform their jobs or have been put on short-time work.
Residents also experience restrictions and changes in their everyday lives at the Iduna Center: As a result of the actions taken to stop infections, many have placed themselves in self-isolation. The family and friendship relationships that are so important to many could hardly be maintained as a result, and many of the residents have noticed their mental health getting worse. Also serious are the inadequate hygiene standards in the apartments and the far too small living space, which makes domestic isolation a major challenge.
Unfortunately, residents also report discriminatory and/or racist experiences. Many are being stigmatized quite independently of Corona because of their address and are disadvantaged, for example, when looking for a job. Individuals, who were read as Asian, also report being subjected to racist remarks and hostility based on their ascribed origins. They are mistakenly dubbed the “source of the virus” and are often socially excluded.
Only a few of the people living there experience protection and support from social security systems or the city of Göttingen. Instead, they are left to fend for themselves, which hits them particularly hard during the Corona pandemic. The reporting of the Corona situation in the Iduna Center in the spring/summer of 2020, in which predominantly Muslim “extended families” and traditional festivities were titled as the cause of the rapid infection event, was racist and discriminatory due to the lack of evidence. In this sense, the NGO “Brot für die Welt” warns that the pandemic is a “test of human rights”. To this day People are socially and structurally disadvantaged because of their ascribed ethnic origin. Housing complexes, such as the Iduna Center, are an expression of colonial, racist continuities that shape the image of many German cities. The connection between the Corona pandemic, capitalism, racism, and what colonialism has to do with it is illustrated particularly clearly in this article (German) by the Weltladen Marburg.
A little suggestion: Do you know the association “Haus der Hoffnung e.V.”? As the sponsor of the “Hope Café” in Groner-Tor-Strasse 29A, they support residents through various projects. Here you can learn more.