This is Bohemian-Rixdorf

In the middle of Neuköln, between U-Bahn Karl-Marks-Straße and S-Bahn Neuköln lays a little quiet square called Bohemian-Rixdorf. This square holds an interesting history. About 280 years ago this place was a refugee settlement, and from that the little village grew to the neighborhood we know today as “Neuköln”.

After the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, Bohemia (today Czech Republic) was recatholicized, Protestants from the area were persecuted and killed. They fled to Germany, which welcomed them. 305 refugees were invited by King Friedrich Wilhelm I to settle in Rixdorf (a small village next to Berlin). The People of Böhmisch-Rixdorf kept their Bohemian traditions and their language for a very long time. For 60 years all community records were in Czech; until 1820 all tombstones were bilingual; town ceremonies were held in Czech until the First World War.

a couple dancing in Rixdorf
*inspired by the folk song “In Rixdorf ist Musike”

In 1912 Rixdorf was renamed as Neukölln, because of Rixdorf’s bad reputation. The town was known for its frivolous entertainment, fun, and of course bad morals. 8 years later Neukölln became the 14th district of Berlin. 

There are a few buildings still standing from that time:

Bethlehem Church (Richardplatz 22), known as the “Rixdorfer Dorfkirche”, which dates from 1481. The old church was destroyed but rebuilt by the bohemian settlers that came in 1737 and it is still in use today.
The Museum in the Bohemian Village (Kirchgasse 5) is one of the best-preserved historical buildings in Böhmisch-Rixdorf. This building was a school from 1753 until 1909, Today there is a small museum there.
The Böhmischer Gottesacker is a cemetery (Karl-Marx-Platz 10) that was built in 1751 and it is the second oldest cemetery still in use in Berlin.
A Historic Smithy (Richardplatz 28). It originally belonged to a blacksmith from Berlin who drove here once a week. In 1797 a Bohemian blacksmith settled there, his descendants ran the smithy for 150 years. The smithy is still in use today but its function is artistic and restoration. Every year the smithy takes part in the traditional Alt-Rixdorf Christmas market.

Until today there is an expression in German that refers to the Bohemian settlements „Das ist mir ein böhmisches Dorf“ which means “That is completely foreign to me”, or “I don’t understand this”.

In Rixdorf ist Musike 
Auf den Sonntag freu’ ich mir.
Ja dann geht es ‘raus zu ihr
feste mit vergnügtem Sinn
Pferdebus nach Rixdorf hin.
Dort erwartet Rieke mir
ohne Rieke kein Plaisir.
Rieke Riekchen Riekake
die ist mir nicht pi-pa-pe.
Geh’ mit ihr ins Tanzlokal
Rieke Riekchen woll’n wir ‘mal?
Kost’n Groschen nur
für die ganze Tour.
Rieke lacht und sagt: “Na ja
dazu sind wir auch noch da!”
Und nu geht es mit avec
immer feste weg.
Rieke feste angefasst!
Rechts herum links herum
immer mang das Publikum
kreuz und quer hin und her
das gefällt mir sehr ja sehr.
Balancez ach herrje
Rieke tanzt wie eine Fee.
Tritt sie mir tret’ ich ihr
das gehört nun zum Plaisir.
… In Rixdorf ist Musike, Musike, Musike,
da tanzen Franz und Rieke,
die letzte Polka vor .-
… In Rixdorf ist Musike, Musike, Musike,
da tanzt die alte Rieke
mit ihrem Zickenbock.


written by Adi G.

Adi G. is a graphic designer and illustrator, she moved to Berlin 7 years ago with her cat. She still struggles to say Kichererbsen.

Rachel K. is an illustrator. She moved to Berlin 12 years ago with her husband. She is still confused when people say igel and refer to a hedgehog and not an eagle.

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