Map of Berlin showing the 3 locations of the Kommune 1: 1. Friedenau, 2. Charlottenburg, 3. Moabit, ©BOARD

Bernd Upmeyer conducted an interview with Rainer Langhans, a pioneer of communal living, who has lived in various forms of community for over fourty years. Langhans is known most of all for his membership of the legendary “Kommune I” which was established in Berlin in 1967 and through which he gained popstar-status in the Germany of the 1960s and 1970s. The interview took place on 18 January 2013.

The 1960s

Bernd Upmeyer: Ever since the 1960s you have gathered experience in communal living. You moved in with the famous Berlin “Kommune I” in 1967 – what did you imagine communal life and living to be like in those days?
Rainer Langhans: In order to understand what we did in those days, you have to grasp that all of us, especially the younger people, were caught in an incomprehensible level of ecstasy. We saw ourselves for what we truly were. This led us to the desire to create a better human being, who would be peaceful and able to live without war. We did not want any more wars, but a new and better cooperative order, which would be more loving, more beautiful, no longer war-like and no longer murdering on a mass scale, as used to be the case. And we did achieve some of that at the time; not too much, of course, but still some of it. That was the origin of the rebellion against our elders who had left us with a pile of corpses after their mass murders.

BU: What role was played by physically sharing spaces for communal use?
RL: My experience of the period of 1968 and the “Kommune I” was a meeting of spirits. We did this physically as well, of course, because that was the only way to stimulate spiritual community life. Today, we know that it is all about communication. To that extent, the experience of 1968 was a kind of spiritual love affair. Therefore, one could say that love is the highest form of communication and in those days we stood in a loving relationship to everyone, to the entire world. And this love was brought about by strengthened communication. Because we are not just bodies and animals concerned with their survival and desires, but we are spiritual creatures. And in the years around 1968 we experienced this love in the Kommune, where we perceived paradise and the promised land, in which all of us were gods…

…the complete interview was published in MONU #18 on the topic of Communal Urbanism on April 23, 2013.

Title: Ecstasy and Privacy
Project: Interview with Rainer Langhans
Date: January 2013
Type: Commissioned interview
Topic: Communal Urbanism
Organizer: MONU
Status: Published
Publications: MONU #18, P.9-16
Interviewer: Bernd Upmeyer