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Information bulletin
(June 1951)

Anthon, Margaret Day
House of neighbors,   pp. [20]-23 PDF (2.7 MB)


Page [20]


House
Of
Neighbors
By MARGARET DAY ANTHON
T HE WIND FLAPPED the stained cardboard loose
lfrom the windowframes, letting in spasmodic light
to add to what seeped through cracks in the tin-
covered roof. Gradually, on that summer day in 1947,
the details of the attic that was to house the YWCA
neighborhood house became discernible. Heaps of broken
tiles, smashed furniture, soggy mattresses, broken china
and plumbing fixtures lay about on the floor. The house-
finding committee of the newly-formed board of directors
appraised the advantages this building could offer: it
had a roof, and walls, such as they were, and there were
only a few missing steps in the stairway.
The American liaison office for the borough of Neu-
koelln had scouted every vacant building in the borough,
but none could boast such a combination of luxuries!
What was required to make it livable - materials
and workers - would have to be found. As word got
around in the neighborhood that there would be a new
youth club in this building, groups of young people
came knocking on the broken door to ask permission to
join. The only price of admission was willingness to set
to work to put the space into shape for club meetings.
Temporary quarters were arranged in a basement
room in the same building which could be used on Sun-
days and Mondays. By the end of the second week, 50
boys and girls had joined up and started work on the
materials available: scrap wood and broken furniture
given by the American military, and old X-ray plates
donated by the US army hospital. All through that winter
of 1947-8 groups met all day on Sunday and after their
school or work on Mondays, repairing furniture and
cleaning the X-ray plates which gradually replaced the
dismal makeshift cardboard windowpanes.
AMERICAN FRIENDS OFTEN VISITED, and while
everyone scraped the black slime from the X-ray
plates, they discussed the questions about which the
German young people had such insatiable curiosity:
education and politics and family life in America. Oc-
casionally British, Danish or Swedish friends were in-
It's sunny but cold outside and this little girl (above)
knows that inside is the warmth of friendship and hospi-
tality that has made the Neukoelln Center one of the out-
standing neighborhood houses in Western Berlin. Since
1947 thisYWCA-sponsored institution has served the com-
munity, the name of which it bears, by providing clothing
(left), food and recreation.  Photos by Hinnes Rosenberg)
HINE     1951


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