Who we are

We are an association founded by various Göttingen initiatives and individuals. What unites us is the vision of a Social Center (Soziales Zentrum) in the old prison (JVA).

The central concern of our initiative is to preserve the building as a public space and to use it in a non-commercial way for the benefit of the neighborhood and Göttingen’s population as a whole.

Göttingen has been struggling for some time over the future of the old prison. Now the city council wants to sell the building in a public tender. Thanks to the great popularity we have been experiencing as an initiative, we have decided to take part in the bidding process.

The application deadline on June 1st has now passed and we have submitted our application. You can find our press release →here. It may still take a little while before the final decision is made by the administration. Until then, you can continue to support us in our project for more social cohesion and neighbourly organization.

If you want to know how, you’ve come to the right place!

Gruppe von ca. 30 Menschen die in einer Gruppe sitzen

What happened
so far...

For some time now, negotiations have been going on in the city about what should happen to the former prison. Here is a small overview of the events so far.

Initial situation: The former prison at Platz der Synagoge has been empty since 2008 and belongs to the city of Göttingen. If you want to know what happened after that, click on the respective time period.

  • In 2017, the Forum-Waageplatz-Viertel (a neighbourhood initiative in the northern city centre) became aware of the city’s (sale-) plans around the former prison
  • This is followed by the constant commitment of the Forum-Waageplatz-Viertel against the sale of the former prison to private investors and for the needs and wishes of the residents of the northern city centre
  • At the same time, the city of Göttingen is conducting a preliminary study (Voruntersuchung/VU) on the social structure in the district and improvement of the district in order to be included in the urban development funding program “Sozialer Zusammenhalt” (social cohesion)
  • Based on the results of the VU, Forum-Waageplatz-Viertel and the Gesundheitskollektiv Göttingen (Health Collective)  develop the idea for the Social Center
  • It becomes public that the city had been negotiating with TrafoHub for several years. VU and urban development funding program were just a façade
  • We start a petition against the sale to TrafoHub and for the social center – we collect a total of around 2700 signatures
  • In a non-public city council meeting in the summer the city decided to negotiate only with the private investor TrafoHub
  • Activists from Göttingen occupy the former prison on 3.10.22 to prevent a sale
  • The initiative is invited to talks with the city administration for the first time
  • On 25.11.22, Trafo Hub announced that they were withdrawing from the JVA project

  • The city decides that the former prison should be finally sold in a public tender based on a defined catalogue of criteria
  • The initiative decides to prepare for the purchase of the former prison – but adheres to the position that it must be the task of the city to maintain public buildings and make them available for public life
  • Participation of the initiative in statements and demonstrations for the realization of the Social Center
  • The city publishes an expose on the sale of the old prison
  • A minimum price of 140,000 euros or heritable building rights will be offered as an option. Die Linke (The Left), Die Grünen (The Greens) and Volt (-Party) vote for the cancellation of the sale. However, the change is reversed by the administrative committee
  • Our initiative declares the entry into the application process. Click here for our press release

Our Idea

Our idea is based on the non-commercial renovation and use of the former prison for the common good.

The Social Centre combines several areas under one roof that complement each other:

  • Coming together: A neighbourhood-café including exhibition and event rooms offers low-threshold access to the house.
  • Neighbourhood: The neighbourhood centre is a place for mutual support and neighbourly self-organisation.
  • Health: A solidarity-based health centre combines (social-) medical, nursing, therapeutic and social-counselling care
  • Youth Work: In addition, the Social Centre offers free children’s and youth services within an open youth centre.

More details under the button “Our concept”.

Why does Göttingen need a social centre?

Still not convinced? You can find more statements in our petition.


There are different ways to support us.

  • A one-time or regular donation helps us with our work. Another option for financial support is through direct loan. All information can be found under support.
  • Our work takes place in many areas. Questions about financing, construction/renovation and legal questions can sometimes not be answered without professional support. We are therefore always happy about the voluntary support of people with professional backgrounds in these or other related areas. Feel free to use the contact function.
  • But also without a professional background, we are always happy to welcome new people who want to support our work. If you are interested in working in our initiative, please send us an email.

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