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Ecologies of Socialisms

Germany, Nature, and the Left in History, Politics, and Culture


Edited By Sabine Mödersheim, Scott Moranda and Eli Rubin

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.
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Aquatic Conundrums: The GDR’s Water Woes and Soviet Bloc Cooperation, 1963–1989 (Julia E. Ault)


Julia E. Ault

Aquatic Conundrums: The GDR’s Water Woes and Soviet Bloc Cooperation, 1963–1989


In 1978, members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) met in Moscow to announce the establishment of the Interwodootschistka, or “Inter-Water Treatment.” The organization institutionalized “scientific-technological basis to improve production capacities” and aimed to “protect the needs of these countries through a quicker and more effective solution to the problem of environmental protection.”1 The GDR (German Democratic Republic, East Germany) touted the Interwodootschistka’s potential. Experts in the GDR admitted to difficulties in distributing the necessary water to its major industrial centers and lauded the “systematic cooperation in the development and production of quality facilities” that the new organization proposed.2 The Interwodootschistka promised answers to domestic water shortages and pollution while placing the GDR at the forefront of a conversation about technological innovation within the Soviet bloc. Water practically tied together socialist countries through similar economic and industrial structures, literally linked them through shared waterways, and symbolically created an ecology or interconnected set of countries and problems in socialism.←201 | 202→

East German leaders recognized the devastating effects of inefficient water use as early as the 1950s and sought to address them in a comprehensive way in the following decade. With the Socialist Unity Party’s (SED) approval, the GDR formulated a multipronged response to its water conundrums. Officials first implemented a series of new economic policies in the 1960s that incentivized pollution abatement. They...

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