that structure the interactions between environmentalism, nature, and socialism in German history and culture can be said to constitute a kind of ecology – a complex and interdependent web of relations, which can appear as antagonisms, but which can also contain deeper, less immediately visible, interdependencies. Ecologies of Socialisms attempts to combine the work of scholars from a wide range of disciplines (history, literature, German/Austrian studies, philosophy, geography) in order to contribute to a better and more nuanced understanding of how «green» and «red» have clashed and also merged in German history and culture.
Table Of Contents
- About the editors
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- List of Figures
- Introduction (Eli Rubin / Scott Moranda)
- A Garden of Small Plots or Factory Farms? Early Cold War Agricultural Planning in East Germany (Scott Moranda)
- Environmental Policy in the GDR: Principles, Restrictions, Failure, and Legacy (Tobias Huff)
- Counterworlds: The Pioneers of Nature Conservation and Life Reform in East Germany (Astrid Mignon Kirchhof)
- Justifying Air Pollution in the GDR, 1949–1989 (Michel Dupuy)
- Ecology and its Discontents: The Concept of Nature in Elfriede Jelinek’s Oh Wildnis, oh Schutz vor ihr (Gernot Waldner)
- The Greens, the Left, and the GDR: A Critical Reassessment (Eli Rubin)
- Aquatic Conundrums: The GDR’s Water Woes and Soviet Bloc Cooperation, 1963–1989 (Julia E. Ault)
- The Half-Life of State Socialism: What Radioactive Wild Boars Tell Us About the Environmental History of Reunified Germany (Thomas Fleischman)
- Shrinking Green Cities: Trees and the Afterlife of Eco-Socialist Planning in Vietnam (Christina Schwenkel)
- “Zweige, Nadeln, Dreck”: Dwelling on the Social in Simple Storys by Ingo Schulze (Katrina Nousek)
- Wildes Brandenburg: Engaging “Unruly Nature” in Berlin’s Peripheries (Bettina Stoetzer)
- Notes on Contributors
- Series Index
Sabine Mödersheim, Scott Moranda,
and Eli Rubin (eds)
Ecologies of Socialisms
Germany, Nature, and the Left
in History, Politics, and Culture
Oxford • Bern • Berlin • Bruxelles • New York • Wien
Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek
Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Mödersheim, Sabine, 1959- editor. | Moranda, Scott, 1975- editor. | Rubin, Eli, 1975- editor.
Title: Ecologies of socialisms : Germany, nature, and the left in history, politics and culture / Sabine Mödersheim, Scott Moranda, Eli Rubin (eds).
Description: Oxford ; New York : Peter Lang,  | Series: German life and civilization ; 70 | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018050511 | ISBN 9781787075771 (alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Socialism--Germany--History. |
Environmentalism--Germany--History. | Communism and ecology--Germany--History.
Classification: LCC HX274 .E36 2018 | DDC 320.53/10943--dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018050511
Cover image: Demonstration against the planned nuclear power plant at Wyhl. Photograph by Leo Horlacher © Archiv Soziale Bewegungen. Reproduced with permission.
ISBN 978-1-78707-577-1 (print) • ISBN 978-1-78707-579-5 (ePub)
ISBN 978-1-78707-580-1 (mobi) • ISBN 978-1-78707-578-8 (ePDF)
© Peter Lang AG 2019
Published by Peter Lang Ltd, International Academic Publishers,
52 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LU, United Kingdom
Sabine Mödersheim, Scott Moranda and Eli Rubin have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Editors of this Work.
All rights reserved.
All parts of this publication are protected by copyright.
Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without
the permission of the publisher, is forbidden and liable to prosecution.
This applies in particular to reproductions, translations, microfilming,
and storage and processing in electronic retrieval systems.
This publication has been peer reviewed.
Sabine Mödersheim is Associate Professor in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, where she teaches courses on environmentalism in German culture and visual culture. She most recently co-edited Deutsche Geheimgesellschaften (2013) with Jost Hermand.
Scott Moranda is Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York at Cortland, where he teaches central European and environmental history. Previous publications include The People’s Own Landscape: Nature, Tourism, and Dictatorship in East Germany (2014).
Eli Rubin is Professor of History at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he teaches modern European history. He is the author of Synthetic Socialism: Plastics and Dictatorship in the German Democratic Republic (2008) and Amnesiopolis: Modernity, Space, and Memory in East Germany (2016).
About the book
This volume explores the complex webs of interaction between the environmental movement, socialism, and the “natural” environment in Germany, and beyond, in the twentieth century. There has long been a divide between the environmental, or “green,” movement and socialist movements in Germany, a divide that has expressed itself in scholarship and intellectual discourse. And yet, upon closer inspection, the split between “red” and “green” is not as clear as it might at first seem. Indeed, little about the interaction between socialism and environmentalism, or socialism and the environment, fits into a neat binary. In a way, the discourses, positions, and policies
that structure the interactions between environmentalism, nature, and socialism in German history and culture can be said to constitute a kind of ecology – a complex and interdependent web of relations, which can appear as antagonisms, but which can also contain deeper, less immediately visible, interdependencies. Ecologies of Socialisms attempts to combine the work of scholars from a wide range of disciplines (history, literature, German/Austrian studies, philosophy, geography) in order to contribute to a better and more nuanced understanding of how “green” and “red” have clashed and also merged in German history and culture.
“Ecologies of Socialisms invites readers on a rewarding journey that leads to a much richer understanding of the Left in recent German history and culture. The relationship between socialism and environmental thought is explored via multiple pathways, all of them questioning our firm beliefs in the incompatibility of ecology and socialism – a welcome addition to recent debates in the environmental humanities.”
– Sabine Wilke, Professor of German, University of Washington
“For many today, ecological socialism is either the most urgent political dream or the gravest political threat. This book tells the history of the tensions between ‘red’ and ‘green’ under conditions of actual existing socialism in East Germany. It shows in detail how attachment to ‘prometheanism’ and dedication to growth upset divisions of Left and Right. Through contributions from some of German history’s most important younger scholars, it helps us understand the past but, perhaps more importantly, to think more clearly about the challenges of the present.”
– Quinn Slobodian, author of Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism
This eBook can be cited
This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.
Index←vi | vii→
Figure 1: From article in science journal Urania. The caption reads: “2.5 Millions of tons of sulfur escape every year from the chimneys in our Republic. Through the exposure to sulfurous gases, forests in the Ore Mountains will soon die.”
Figure 7: Multifunctional, communal green space used for parking bikes, grazing, gardening, drying clothes and playing badminton (a team of grandmothers in the background), 2015. Photo by the author.←vii | viii→ ←viii | ix→
This book benefitted from the hard work and dedication of many people. The editors would like to thank first and foremost the German Studies Association. The GSA instituted “interdisciplinary networks” some years ago, as part of its commitment to interdisciplinary German studies. This led to the formation of the Environmental Studies network, and more recently, the German Socialisms network. The GSA also encouraged cooperation between interdisciplinary networks, and this led to a collaboration between the German Socialisms network and the Environmental Studies network. A huge thank you goes to Marc Silberman, who encouraged both the formation of the German Socialisms network, and the cooperation between German Socialisms and Environmental Studies. Also a huge thank you is owed to April Eisman and Benjamin Robinson, who, along with Eli Rubin, helped found the German Socialisms network and oversaw this collaboration with Environmental Studies, led by Scott Moranda and Sabine Mödersheim. Tom Lekan and Katharina Gerstenberger deserve great thanks for helping launch the Environmental Studies network and bringing Sabine and Scott together to continue its work.
Another enormous debt of gratitude belongs to our editor at Peter Lang, Laurel Plapp. It was she who had the idea of publishing the results of our networks’ collaboration. Her encouragement, steady guidance, and patience at our somewhat slow pace meant everything to the successful outcome of this book! And we would be remiss in not thanking Jost Hermand, the editor of this series, who supported this project from the beginning, and whose own work defined the careers and the work of all three of the editors and many of the contributors of this volume. Thanks as well to our anonymous reader, who helped us make many improvements. Thanks also to Simon Phillimore at Peter Lang who helped with the editorial process.
Most of all, we wish to thank our amazing contributors, all of whom are engaged in work of the highest importance, and producing cutting edge and fascinating scholarship. The Anthropocene is here, and we must←ix | x→ grapple with it in all its dimensions, as these scholars are doing. With their hard work and excellent research and writing they are helping lead the way for many future scholars.←x | 1→
Is Germany the “Greenest nation” as Frank Uekötter has provocatively asked?1 Forget the Berlin Wall, forget the Cold War, World War II, the Nazis, the Holocaust, the Kaiserreich, and forget the storied history of the Social Democratic Party – the SPD. Germany is now the nation of separated trash, solar panels and wind power. The only Wende people talk about now, in relation to Germany, is the Energiewende. And perhaps, that is part of the point. The Energiewende provides for a national identity that generates warm, positive press and seemingly avoids the more divisive and troubling aspects of past markers of Germanness.
- X, 336
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2019 (September)
- Germany, Nature, and the Left in History, Politics, and Culture Ecologies of Socialisms Ecocriticism Environmental history of socialism Marxism and nature from interdisciplinary perspective
- Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2019. X, 336 pp., 7 fig. b/w