Since the beginning of the 1990's groups of Poznan freedom movement wanted to have their own premises. During that very active period, the freedom movement took part in many initiatives which aim was to socialise goods. Successes of groups in other towns were encouraging them to act.In the summer of 1994, not minding the consent of authorities or owners, activists decisively started to look for premises. Several buildings were found, but the most appropriate one was the barrack of the bankrupted warehouse. It was situated in an deserted area that used to be a warehouse-industrial complex.
Initially, squat Rozbrat's role was a house similar to freedom communes. Some more serious actions that were creating and supporting the squat took place. In summer 1995, it was still being adapted. On one hand, it had only a residential function, one the other hand almost every resident of the squat was somehow active in social activity.
With time, concerts started to be organised at Rozbrat, because of safety reasons, the entrance was allowed only with an invitation, but they were organised more and more frequently, and the character of those concerts started to be more open. This kind of cultural activity was the leading one for following several years. A bigger room was adapted and prepared, sound equipment was collected. Slowly, the character of the place started to change and it became an independent culture centre.
After the activities were created in a closed group a time for creating a wide coalition for sustaining and keeping the squat has come. Squat started to be treated not as a whole, but as a part of activity. A wider bunch of people not living at the squat started to get involved in Rozbrat, laying the foundations of new quality of the Rozbrat Collective.
In 1997 Anarchist Federation started their activity at Rozbrat. Since then, it has gathered the more active participants of Rozbrat Collective and plays very important role in shaping the place, both in the ideological way and in material one. Meetings called the Liberation Feasts were initially a forum for both solving the problems of Rozbrat itself and the outer activity. The Anarchist Federation created the Anarchist Library in 1997, and in 2000 the Anarchist Club, where weekly meetings of AF still take place. In 2001 another room was adapted for initiative "Lame Mule" (Polish: Kulawy Muł), where recitals, poetry evenings, discos and lectures take place. The back of "Lame Mule" was transformed into the Gallery, that is open for all kinds of independent artists. With time, a technical structure and a management system based on self-governance was being created. In 2005, a new cafe bar next to the Gallery was created, it is a chillout zone. All the time, we are creating and improving the infrastructure. With small steps we are developing the place engaging ourselves in it.
Rozbrat is a peculiar centre of independent culture in Poznan, and actually, in whole Wielkopolska region. Actions that are taken here would be very difficult to be taken in a commercialised world. We are creating a place based on independent social and cultural activity: without donations, subsidies, sponsors, outside of the system, outside of the good or bad economic situation, for ourselves, for propagating an independent thought, for building social consciousness.
That is how Rozbrat has changed its side and blended well into Poznan's surrounding, for some people it has been a nice accent, for others being a thorn in their side. The outside-of-institutions character of the place was attracting and still attracts people wanting to create culture in an active and independent way, and also undertaking others actions on social-political level.
Rozbrat - The idea
Free houses for free people.
Squat is nothing but an uninhabited building, usually in a very poor shape, being occupied by a group of people who repair it, move in and create a certain kind of community. Therefore squat becomes home to them.
From the community...
The original idea of Rozbrat was to set up a commune composed of the people who did not approve of the world based on "the rat race". Then it has evolved and developed: the place itself was changing, different people got involved in the formation. The goal has broadened from residing to carrying on cultural, social and political work.
The group, initially small, has grown larger becoming kind of "open community" with the aim to keep the place and build free ideas upon it.
Today Rozbrat is the center of the alternative culture both for Poznan and the whole region called the Wielkopolska. This is the social space where the activities, which would not have happened in the commercialized world, do take place. Everything here is based upon the independent social and cultural activity: we don't get any donations, subsidies, we are not sponsored by anybody, we are out of the establishment and shady relations; we do it for ourselves and to spread the free, independent thought and raise social awareness.
For a start few words about Rozbrat's structure. It is divided in several autonomic but altogether integral pieces: the inhabited building - squat, the anarchist library, two rooms- concert hall plus another hall, the anarchists' club and other smaller spaces. The activists work in different groups but they cooperate with each other in the Rozbrat Collective.
The activity of the Rozbrat Collective is very wide. The Technical Collective is very important here - it is in charge of technical maintenance of Rozbrat (for instance reconditioning and improving the infrastructure, raking up the leaves in the autumn and so on) and it also coordinates the squat's activity.
From the very beginning Rozbrat has been a flat for the group of people; now there are here 15-20 squatters. There is broad cultural and social activity undertaken at Rozbrat, for example concerts, exhibitions, festivals and many other events. As individuals and as a group we are very often invited to take part in organizing some projects. We reach the people by arranging the lectures and workshops; they can also see our ideas being carried into effect.
Rozbrat has always been connected with music; actually, it was the beginning of its cultural work. People setting it up were involved in the "independent scene" based on "do it yourself" method, which applied to everything from organizing concerts, recording to releasing records; Rozbrat is also a fruit of this maxim.
The first concert at Rozbrat took place spontaneously in the autumn of 1995. Oi Polloi, legendary band from Scotland, had their gig in Poznan canceled, but they showed up at squat because of social contacts and played for a small group of people. That was the beginning; next gigs were organized by inviting certain bands to play. Only squatters' and activists' friends knew about the concerts, because it was a bit risky at that time to let unknown people come at Rozbrat. Then there were leaflets and posters spreaded, and now the info about gigs is fully official; it took several years to make people respect us and the place. But still we may refuse the entrance to some folks; some people praise us for it, but some find it pissing off. Well, the place got its own specificity and it is of big importance in the chain of interdependences around us. At the end of the day, every place got its policy and so does Rozbrat. Our aim is to influence the society through forming the alternative culture. We are alternative to plastic pop culture, which patterns got nothing to do with building free and conscious society. Pop world is the world of neon signs and stars, spectacle and sham brilliance; it is expansive and effusive, because it is based on big dough. In this world you can be a radical or an asshole, but still you are a part of this system. We don't mind popular culture, its creators and its consumers. Consciousness is the most crucial, the most important; how you act, what you do is your business- life is nothing but a constant choice!
We create our own world here and now, without menagers and visagists; we do it, because this is what we want and what we feel. We might be unprofessional because of it (though it very often appears that we are more professional than it would seem to), but we feel good about ourselves and people trust us.