GEHAG > association

In Berlin, special public housing associations were set up to reorganise residential construction. The best known of these was the Gemeinnützige Heimstätten, Spar-, Bau und Aktiengesellschaft or GEHAG, which played a decisive role in building the city’s World Heritage housing estates. Founded in 1924, the company had a structure as complicated as its name: a lobby-friendly model that catered to trade union, cooperative, non-profit and municipal shareholders. The politically left-leaning GEHAG was not only in charge of planning, design and financing, but also had its own non-commercial property developer, Deutsche Bauhütte, and therefore did not have to hire profit-oriented construction companies. The marketing and letting of GEHAG properties were handled by the Berliner Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Einfamilienhauses, or EINFA for short. Bruno Taut, who designed four of Berlin's six World Heritage housing estates, was engaged as chief architect for consulting and design. The first chairman of the supervisory board was Martin Wagner, an architect and Social Democrat who was a driving force in the planning and reorganisation of Berlin housing construction. Wagner was appointed municipal building commissioner in 1926. GEHAG’s transformation during the Third Reich is a prime example of how the Nazis pressured people and organisations to tow the party line. Only a few months after Hitler came to power, all of GEHAG's managers were suddenly replaced, which naturally had an impact on the association's leasing policy.

In 1998, GEHAG was privatized by the State of Berlin despite fierce protests from tenants. Following a series of takeovers on the stock exchange, GEHAG became part of the Deutsche Wohnen group. Due to takeovers on the stock market in 2021, the two biggest German real property companies merged and Deutsche Wohnen SE became part of Vonovia SE. From the social and the preservation perspective, the initial sale of GEHAG resulted from a political decision that is difficult to fathom today.

organization chart of the GEHAG housing association, Source GEHAG-Archive