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Chapter 2 - “Socialist Environmentalism”: Between Ideal and Practice, 1971–1982

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2021

Julia E. Ault
Affiliation:
University of Utah
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Summary

Chapter two traces the SED’s institutionalization of environmental protection and the party’s conviction that socialism provided solutions to pollution. The SED succeeded in creating a more environmentally minded population and, at least initially, tried to address concerns within existing structures. The SED used mass social campaigns to unite East Germans around the issue of environmentalism and practiced protection through policy and negotiating petitions. The GDR simultaneously reached out to other socialist countries to build coalitions around its brand of environmentalism in contrast to the one taking off in western Europe. This positioning intentionally placed the GDR in the middle of a regional and global phenomenon that spanned the Iron Curtain. Despite minor improvements, however, the discrepancy between rhetoric and lived reality produced a politically untenable situation. The SED relied on the Stasi to police the population, and ultimately opted to classify all environmental data in 1982.

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Saving Nature Under Socialism
Transnational Environmentalism in East Germany, 1968 – 1990
, pp. 54 - 90
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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