Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
The legendary Rixdorf (since 1912 Neukölln) inn, the “Rollkrug”, used to stand on the corner of today´s Hermannstrasse and Karl-Marx-Strasse (then known as Berliner Strasse) on the south-eastern corner of Hermannplatz.
Built on the crossing of two important roads, the inn where the travellers changed their horses, stood on this spot since mid-16th century. After having been “revamped” several times and served generations of visitors, the small, obsolete-looking “Häuschen” was finally demolished in 1907 to make space for the building occupying the spot until today.
It was in the old “Rollkrug” that the first Berlin Enthaltsamkeit-Verein – Abstinence Association – was established in February 1838. “Abstinence” in this case meant a ban on serving Branntwein: the abuse of this strong distilled alcoholic beverage, also known as spirit, was responsible for fast growing social problems in Prussian capital. With one Schnapsbrennerei per 109 residents (!) combined with often unspeakably bad living conditions as well as pretty much remorseless competition on the job market, the hard liquor abuse led to rising criminality, growing abuse within families, sexual abuse of children (forced to find extra source of income families often put up paying strangers for the night or during the day) as well as crippling diseases and deaths.
Beer, however, was excluded from the said ban. Not out of carelessness or neglect, though: for centuries beer was a much safer drink than water available in the cities. It was traditionally drank by both gown-ups and kids. Plus, it had, of course, a far less debilitating influence on those partaking of it and came from the impressive number of traditional, local Berlin breweries which needed supporting. For the Enthaltsamkeit-Verein from Rixdorf those were good reasons to stamp it off as acceptable.