Kathrin Deisting came to Siemensstadt in a roundabout way. She initially studied art history in Canada and France. She then moved to Berlin and studied theology in order to make a new start. After completing her pastoral internship, she became a pastor and, surprisingly, was sent to Siemensstadt, a district that she wasn’t yet familiar with and that immediately captured her heart.
Ms. Deisting, although you’d been living in Berlin for some time, is it true that the Siemensstadt district was still unfamiliar?
I really wasn’t familiar with Siemensstadt beforehand. It was totally new territory. I knew all parts of Spandau, but Siemensstadt was brand new. And I find that Siemensstadt has a very specific flair, as do the people who live here, although it certainly must have evolved over the decades.
What’s your impression of the district?
I notice that Siemensstadt’s profile is different from that other regions in Spandau. I spent my pastoral internship in Spektefeld in Spandau, at the Paul-Gerhardt-Kirchengemeinde – and it’s already very apparent that the district region’s profile is structured very differently. A socially challenged district, the need there is very different. There are other neighborhoods in Spandau that are more upper-class. In a certain sense, Siemensstadt is between the two and features a very special sort of people.
What are the residents of Siemensstadt like?
Well, they’re different and extremely varied and that’s basically what I love about people. It’s nice to see that there are lots of elderly people as well as a lot of young people here. Elderly in the sense that I can visit them in their homes and talk to them and hear lots of different stories about the past, about the Siemens factories, when someone worked in logistics and so on. And then there are the others, lots of young families here. I especially notice it when I hold a mini church service that offers childcare or a family service that brings me in contact with the people. It’s wonderful.
What’s the neighborhood here like – do you make a lot of contacts?
We’re always a point of contact, you might say. People come with various questions. They might just need help with shopping, so they come to us and we find them help. The church and the parish – the Catholic parish as well – are points of contact for people who want another home in addition to their actual home. I think that’s what the church should be for people, a homeland, a home away from home, a place of arrival where they can just sit quietly, light a candle, let go, recharge, and then continue on your way.
And the future, the transformation that’s currently underway – is that an issue?
The transformation of Siemensstadt Square is an issue in any case. I think it’s important to integrate the interests of citizens in the planning of the district. The life of the community is always shaped by people, that’s just the way it is, and it’s important that they have a say, that they can have an influence.
So, what’s your ideal future for Siemensstadt?
Well, I’d like there to be sufficient green spaces and trees and I’d like playgrounds for children. Because I believe that when we invest in the children, we invest in our future. And yes, as I said before, I want a place for spirituality, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a church. It’s just a matter of providing people with a space, even in Siemensstadt Square, where they can stop, recharge, and then continue on their way. We and the Catholic church want to be there for the people in the district, regardless of whether they belong to a particular religion, and offer them an open ear and on-site opportunities.