The Berlin market that’s a magnet for city’s Vietnamese

Posted by Ed 17 mths ago
Old warehouses and typical plattenbau, apartment blocks made from prefabricated concrete slabs, line the streets in Berlin-Lichtenberg, a district in the northeastern part of Germany’s capital. But in the middle of this forlorn industrial area, where many buildings have been abandoned and stand idle, the Dong Xuan Centre stands out.

Its halls are filled with lively chatter, mostly in Vietnamese. People queue at restaurants to warm up with a bowl of hot pho. Shopkeepers lure visitors into their stores by loudly announcing the offers of the day.

The Dong Xuan Centre is home to numerous wholesale businesses, shops, and food producers. Eighty per cent of its tenants are Vietnamese. The others are Indian, Pakistani or Chinese. The history of the centre is closely connected to the story of thousands of Vietnamese who came to East Berlin as contract workers when it was the capital of communist East Germany.

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