Berlin is finally honoring the GDR star with a street! One district even went through their Stasi files for this

With headscarf and apron in her role as Traudel Schulze: The great GDR entertainer Helga Hahnemann (1937-1991) was a Berlin original with heart and soul. imago/Günter Gueffroy

She was an artist with a Berlin heart and snout. The great GDR entertainer Helga Hahnemann, who is still unforgettable among people in East and West and would have been 85 in September. But even three decades after her death, her name is still missing from the cityscape. Now there will finally be a Helga-Hahnemann-Strasse in East Berlin. For this purpose, “Henne’s” Stasi files were even searched through in one district.

Last November, on the 30th anniversary of her death, KURIER denounced the fact that no street in Berlin had yet been named after Helge Hahnemann. A path near the Friedrichstadt-Palast should be on the initiative of Berlin artists. But nothing came of it.

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Now suddenly three districts want it. Based on the KURIER article, street naming was requested in the district parliaments (BVV) in Mitte, Pankow and Treptow-Köpenick at the beginning of 2022.

Treptow-Köpenick has the edge in the race. If everything goes well, there will be Helga-Hahnemann-Strasse in Berlin next month. The BVV decision is currently being prepared, district spokeswoman Laura Schluricke told the KURIER.

A street in a new district in Treptow-Köpenick is to be named after Helga Hahnemann

The place is already fixed with Niederschöneweide, where Helga Hahnemann attended the drama school from 1956 to 1959, which was once located on Schnellerstrasse. In the BVV it was suggested that a private road in the new residential area should bear the name of “Big Helga”, which is being built between Fliessstrasse and the banks of the Spree.

The new residential area in Niederschöneweide: Helga-Hahnemann-Straße will soon be here.
The new residential area in Niederschöneweide: Helga-Hahnemann-Straße will soon be here. Volkmar Otto

On the “Buwog-Bauwerk” site, for example, new houses and the “Strohhalm” welfare center (a facility for homeless people) have already been built on Fliessstrasse. Further buildings are now being built in the direction of the Spree side. According to the Buwog website, a total of over 140 apartments are to be built on the site by 2024. One of the new streets will be named Helga-Hahnemann-Straße, confirmed Buwog spokesman Michael Divé.

Street naming already in September?

In September it could be time. The process is “quite advanced,” said district spokeswoman Schluricke. “Currently, the land surveying office is working on the numbering of the lots,” she says. “After completion, the street renaming decision that has been drawn up goes through a circulation procedure for final co-signing and then the street renaming is published in the Official Journal. A period of six to eight weeks for the renaming is realistic.”

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Even if that doesn’t happen until around the end of September: naming the street would be a dignified reminder of Helga Hahnemann, who would have celebrated her 85th birthday on September 8th.

That was in 2003: Mitte's district manager at the time, Joachim Zeller, Angelika Mann, Ulla Klingbeil and Katrin Güttler (first Miss GDR) provisionally inaugurated Helga-Hannemann-Straße.  The sign is gone today.
That was in 2003: Mitte’s district manager at the time, Joachim Zeller, Angelika Mann, Ulla Klingbeil and Katrin Güttler (first Miss GDR) provisionally inaugurated Helga-Hannemann-Straße. The sign is gone today. imago/Eventpress Herrmann

In Mitte, the district office is far from ready. There was a provisional Helga-Hahnemann-Straße near Henne’s place of work, the Friedrichstadt-Palast, in 2003, but its actual realization failed.

Mitte and Pankow are also planning a Helga-Hahnemann-Strasse

In February 2022, the CDU parliamentary group of BVV Mitte submitted the application for a real Hahnemann street. But implementation can take time. An extensive bureaucratic procedure was set in motion. Among other things, it provides for the biography of the person to be honored to be checked, the district office said. “Accordingly, the existing Stasi documents were viewed by Helga Hahnemann and the content was assessed as harmless.”

Helga Hahnemann in a very glamorous way: With her stage appearances on television, she inspired people in East and West.
Helga Hahnemann in a very glamorous way: With her stage appearances on television, she inspired people in East and West. imago/Günter Gueffroy

The district office wants to create a biography about the artist and submit it to the culture committee, which should then include Helga Hahnemann in the list of women’s names for possible street renaming. Until then, the street for hens has long existed in Treptow-Köpenick. It is questionable whether Mitte will follow.

In Pankow, the plans for a Hahnemann-Strasse are still in the district culture committee. It is unclear whether the appointment will be on the agenda for the August 24 meeting. In the BVV, the CDU had proposed naming a square or park in the Wilhelmsruh district after the artist, who was buried there in the cemetery and received an honorary grave.

For Pankow’s CDU faction leader Denise Bittner, it would not be a problem if there was already a street for “Big Helga” in Treptow-Köpenick. “We have so many Berlin streets in the city that there can be several for Helga Hahnemann,” says Bittner.

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