A Pub in Mulack Street93-05-28-MulackStr-(E)  

A Pub in Mulack Street, Berlin
Previously called Mulack Alley, it was narrow and called "Mulack-ritze" (Ritze = crack or cranny) by the locals. The name was passed on to the little pub in the street.

Published October 1991

reviously called Mulack Alley, it was narrow and called "Mulack-ritze" (Ritze = crack or cranny) by the locals. The name was passed on to the little pub in the street. It was part of the Spandau Suburb also known as the "Scheunenviertel" - barn or shed district - because the sheds of the farmers of Berlin once stood in this district. In the first half of this century this area was predominantly Jewish, working class, and poor.

The building was originally built in 1770 and had always been an inn or pub. " 15 - Taverne - 15 " stood in large letters across the front of the building known as the Mulackritze. About 1900 the name of the landlady was Marie Manfrass, and she was followed by Hermann Lodtke. "Lodtke's Restaurant " could be read on the facade until the early 1920's. In 1922 it was taken over by Fritz Brand and his wife who was known as Auntie Elsie. Only at the end of the war (1945) was Fritz, now a widower, able to pass on the pub, to Minna and Alfred Mahlich, who looked after Fritz until his death.

As Heinrich Zille sketched his scenes of everyday life the Berlin "milieu" in this pub, the pub was a "dive" mainly used by small-time criminals and ladies of the street.. But the boxing and wrestling clubs also met there.

In 1920 the "Mulackritze" was the setting of the film The girls from Acker Street, a film about life in the old district "Barn District". Again in 1929 the house with its 7 rooms was used for the background to the film, Mother Krausen's journey into joy which dealt with the tragic fate of a poor Berlin working class family in the period immediately after the 1st. World War.

In the twenties the Mulackritze became a favourite haunt of artists, some of them well-known. According to what has been passed down Max Pallenberg and Berthold Brecht, as well as the famous Jewish researcher in to sexuality was often here for "study purposes", since the pub was long a meeting place of homosexuals, women and men, as well as transvestites. For some time the "Tuesday Club" was for women in men's clothes, while the "Thursday Club" was for men dressed as women, because the place was so small and the attendance so great that the little pub was packed out. The guests, who came from all over Berlin and even beyond, were a colourful bunch.

The atmosphere was lively, and the notice "Dancing is forbidden" was only there to avoid paying the music tax. The big-horned gramophone which stood on the bar was there instead of a band, and provided the music for dancing. The other notice, "Klammern is forbidden" was equally applied as though it wasn't there! "Klammern", derived from the Jewish cardgame "Klaverjas" played for money, was and is still played in pubs.

Of course the ladies of the street (whores) who were quite at home in this district, also used the pub. Some - up to 8 of them -used the attic room for "work purposes". Next to the clock hung a sign which announced, "Prostitutes are not allowed on the premises, according to police regulations." The grammar wasn't very good, but everyone knew that the landlord didn't object.

Punch-ups were not altogether unknown in which even chairs and glasses flew through the air. It was quite dangerous in 1907, for a well-known pimp shot at a young whore because she didn't do as she was told. The shot which hit her in the breast was luckily not deadly. The pimp was soon arrested.
Otherwise it was quite a harmless pub, only now and then someone who was unruly was laid over a table and everyone took turns and pleasure to whack the arse as hard as they could! Upstairs in the attic, if so desired, "massage" with S-M sex, with a whip or stick on appropriately hard wooden trestle beds. Male or female could get their particular type of sex. But everything was quite natural. People can talk about hunger and thirst, when and how one wants something to eat or drink, but when it comes to needs below the waist a shameful silence is maintained, although these are among the most beautiful needs nature has given us. Where intolerance can lead, not only on a political, but also in the sexual area, was shown under the criminal regime of the Nazis. The persecution of minorities and twelve years of terror six of which were war years, didn't pass by the Mulackritze unnoticed. How many lost their lives, just because they were homosexual, or Jewish, or Gypsies, a whore, or politically undesirable.

Emergency conditions overtook the pub. To the left and right, as well as across the street, the houses were bombed or burned out; many lost all that they possessed. Finally the only thing to eat was swede soup. No-one dared to dance; when the army patrols were around the landlord put a record of Nazi music on the gramophone - to warn the inhabitants. The transvestites, who would wear no uniform and refused military service, were now, as the Jews, treated like wild game, and were shot on the spot. Thanks to the landlords warning system in February 1945 during an SS search the "wild Game" had time to flee.

The couple that took over at the end of the war (Minna and Alfred Mahlich) had known tragic times. Minna was a Jewess by birth, and thus subject to the extermination laws of the Nazis. It was only the heroism of her husband Alfred which saved her life. As a so-called Aryan - despite the chicanery of the Nazi authorities and the Gestapo - he remained loyal and refused to divorce her.

In the last years of the war Minna had to do hard labour in the Lehrter goods station lifting hundredweights of coal, potatoes, and cement, both summer and winter. As an added punishment, Jewesses were not allowed to wear a coat, even in the coldest winter. Alfred came back from the war, if he had been killed is wife would have gone to an extermination camp.

When the Mahlichs took over in 1945 the pub began to flourish again, and regained much of its character. People from the film, radio and theatre, such as Bert Brecht and Helene Weigel were guests there. Those who had survived, homosexuals, transvestites, men and women and of course the ladies of the street, returned. People danced again. (...)

But soon the Mahlichs began to have trouble with the authorities. They were to refuse entry to whores and queers. In the 1951/52 period 32 so-called whore and queer pubs in the Scheunenviertel were closed on orders of the Magistrat - the (East) Berlin City Council. The "scene" went underground, and to the west where the occupying powers were more tolerant.

Colin de la Motte-Sherman

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