15 years Weglaufhaus

Obituary for Thilo von Trotha
(20.4.1960 – 16.3.2009)

The Weglaufhaus and the Verein zum Schutz vor psychiatrischer Gewalt e.V. mourn the death of Thilo von Trotha.

After studying philosophy in Freiburg and Berlin, Thilo von Trotha helped conceive the Weglaufhaus, fought for its realization for many years, and co-founded it. Since the foundation of the association (1989) he was a longtime member of the association and from 1998 – 2002 Thilo worked in the Weglaufhaus.

He has decisively shaped and promoted our project and the new anti-psychiatry and psychiatry-affected people movement in Germany.
Thilo was a smart and perceptive thinker. His texts and his theoretical and practical impulses have enriched and advanced our work.

His warm-heartedness, strength and perseverance have given courage and confidence to many people who sought support in the Weglaufhaus and in the association and helped them on their way. Even under adverse circumstances, Thilo was always very committed to the residents. He had a lot of space, understanding and tolerance for people in the most difficult life situations and crazy conditions. In our disputes we learned a lot from him and developed the anti-psychiatric practice together.

With his inexhaustible commitment and generosity, he made a deep impression on us and provided lasting support to many people, residents and colleagues.

We are deeply shocked by his death, which makes us helpless and sad. Thilo will remain unforgotten and is missed by us.

Iris Hölling for the Association for Protection from Psychiatric Violence and the Weglaufhaus

The history of the Weglaufhaus

Instead of presenting the history of individual active people, because the history of the project can also be told as their history, it is more important to us here to embed the history of the Weglaufhaus in contemporary historical developments. However, the realization of the Weglaufhaus is the result of many years of great commitment and dedication on the part of those affected and those not affected. Many people, in the most diverse positions, have invested a lot of time and energy of their lives in this project.

The origins of the anti-psychiatry movement go back to the 19th century, on both sides of the Atlantic.

End of the sixties: affected people organize themselves, at the same time as the student movements, in the USA and Europe.

Theoretical considerations from the psychiatric and philosophical side (Foucault, Deleuze) as well as practical implementations since the fifties:

Kingsley Hall in England (R.D. Laing, D. Cooper, 1965 – 1970), Soteria in California (L. Mosher, 1973 – 1985),
Psychiatric reform in Italy (F. Basaglia).

Founding of affected persons’ organizations nationally and internationally (e.g., BPE, ENUSP, WNUSP).

In the seventies, so-called Wegloophuiser emerged in the Netherlands, inspired by the Gekken movement. These initially served as a model for the “Villa Stöckle” Weglaufhaus implemented in Berlin.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the social movements that had their origins in the ’68 movement experienced a new upswing in the FRG. In West Berlin, among others, the squatter scene was very active. Here, psychiatric patients who were beginning to organize themselves also found points of contact.

1980 Foundation of the Lunatic Offensive, West Berlin

Organization of those affected and self-help, public relations and political campaigns for the rights of those affected by psychiatry, education about damage caused by psychotropic drugs, support and counseling for those affected. Within the framework of the work in the Lunatic Offensive, many practical experiences with self-help and mutual support were made, which later flowed into the conception of the Weglaufhaus.

1982 Congress in Amsterdam, visit of a Weglaufhaus, idea of realization of this concept

1986 Foundation of the Weglaufhaus group within the Insane Persons Offensive

1989 Foundation of the Verein zum Schutz vor psychiatrischer Gewalt e.V. (Association for Protection against Psychiatric Violence) out of the Weglaufhausgruppe

Separation from the “Irren-Offensive” due to disagreements about the integration of non-affected persons in the future “Weglaufhaus”.

Earmarked donation for a house purchase in the amount of one million marks.

Plan to open the Weglaufhaus in the Red-Green coalition agreement, but this coalition breaks up at the end of 1990, a few days before the planned release of funds for the Weglaufhaus

Subsequently, attempts to finance the project mainly from donations (sponsorships). This results in considerable response, but not enough. Establishment of committees of generally recognized professional authorities: Advisory Board and Consultative Board.

1990 Congress of FAPI (Forum of Antipsychiatric Initiatives)

1991 Rejection letter from the Senate – Department of Health

Subsequently, attempt to finance the project through the social welfare agencies, homeless assistance

1990 Purchase of the house in Berlin – Frohnau

Tough years follow in the “ordinance jungle” of the city and the borough and ongoing work on the conceptual design

1995 Invitations to the neighborhood to make the project known, reveal partly strong rejection and wild threat scenarios

1995 Name of the house “Weglaufhaus – Villa Stöckle” after the deceased co-initiator Tina Stöckle

1.1.1996 Start of operation of the Weglaufhaus as part of the homeless assistance, daily rate financing according to § 72 BSHG (since 1.1.2005 according to §§ 67 ff SGB XII), 13 places, women’s floor:

Anti-psychiatric orientation, alternative to psychiatry, support in discontinuing psychotropic drugs, no diagnoses, transparency,

Participation of at least 50% psychiatric patients in the team,

Practice of the concept of being there in crises, taken over from Soteria, support in everyday life and in official, legal, financial and housing matters, around the clock.

2000 Creation of the service type crisis facility for homeless assistance in Berlin, classification of the Weglaufhaus under this

since 2002 premises of the association in Auguststrasse in Berlin-Mitte

2002 Start of the project Support – anti- and non-psychiatric individual case assistance according to §§ 39, 40 BSHG (since 1.1.2005 § 53 SGB XII) in the association for the protection against psychiatric violence e.V.,

2003 Start of the film forum, leisure, cultural and contact offer in the association for the protection against psychiatric violence e.V., supported by Faf e.V.

2003 Congress “Poverty and Health”, Forum Antipsychiatry, in Berlin

2004 Symposium “Betroffenheit und Professionalität”, brochure “Betrifft Professionalität” together with the projects Tauwetter and Wildwasser,

2004 “Ingeborg Drewitz Award” of the Humanist Union

  • Participation of staff in national and international (professional) meetings, congresses and conferences
  • Project presentations/lectures for professionals, affected persons, students; lectures, workshops, further training courses
  • Membership in the ENUSP and WNUSP, as well as in the BPE and the Berlin BOP&P
  • Member of the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, expert committees, working groups and working groups regionally and supra-regionally (ÜPSAG), active cooperation in the AK Wohnungsnot (working group on housing shortage)
  • Support of other runaway house initiatives in Germany (through internships, joint events, project presentations, information)
  • Publications by staff members
  • Political activities, e.g. on guardianship law 2003, 2004
  • Various books, film contributions, film, radio play, radio contributions, newspaper articles, among others:

Book “Das Weglaufhaus” by Uta Wehde (1991)
Book “Flucht in die Wirklichkeit”edited by Kerstin Kempker (1998)
Radio play “Zwischenraum” by Caspar Abocab (2001)
Special issue “Antipsychiatrie” of the Journal for Systemic Therapy, edited by Karin Roth (2001)
Film “Fluchtpunkt Wirklichkeit” by Christine Mast (2001)


On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Weglaufhaus in January 2006 party in the “Festsaal Kreuzberg” and in April 2006 reception(speeches as PDF) in the “Villa Stöckle”, among the guests the Berlin Senator for Health and Social Affairs Knake-Werner.

May to August 2006 extensive renovation work on the “Villa Stöckle”.

2007 Opening of the anti-psychiatric counseling center in the Verein zum Schutz vor psychiatrischer Gewalt e.V. (Association for Protection against Psychiatric Violence).

Since 1996 more than 700 residents, more than half of them without psychotropic drugs in the WLH, close contact with the residents often beyond the stays, inquiries from all over Germany.

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