I can still clearly recall the first time I set foot on the Kottbusser Tor. It was just different from anything I’d seen before. Its smell, dirt, and the zombie drug dealers whispering “ecstasy?” in front of the fruit and vegetables stand definitely made up for a powerful first impression.
Further perplexed by the army of dinky mannequins supposed to represent little boys sporting traditional attire in a shop on Kottbusser Straße, I pretty much knew Kotti would become a place close to my heart.
In hindsight, I have to admit that it did, which probably comes as no surprise – I know I’m not the only one prone to Kreuzberg’s unique atmosphere. Another special feature which contributes to it is the ubiquitous number “36”. To enlighten some of you – Berlin SO 36 used to be the postal code for the Südost 36 area.
But it’s obviously in Xberg that the number gained a symbolic meaning over time – mostly thanks to a local gang.
The gang, appropriately called “36 Boys” and active from late 80s to mid 90s, was first founded by Attila Murat Aydın, a graffiti-artist and rapper (known as Maxim), initially as an organization connected to the hip-hop scene. Over time, more than 100 new members joined.
36 Boys, with their graffiti widely distributed, would become famous all over town for incidents including confrontations with other gangs.
After the gang days were over, the mentioned founder, Attila Murat Aydın, actually made a reputation for himself as an opponent of violence. But this came to an abrupt end.
In 2003, on the day of his 33th birthday, Attila Murat Aydın died, stabbed with a pocketknife by a pensioner.
Through researching the press, I could not find one definite version of the incident.
What’s certain, though: Attila Murat Aydın was mourned by his wife and young son. A figure whose actions had an effect on the neighborhood, and whose legacy we can still trace, sadly left the community way too early. I can’t get rid of this reflection anytime I pass any of the “36” kind of places now.
* photos slightly color-corrected and cropped