Dr. Scott Moranda

Vita | Projekt | Publikationen

The People’s Own Landscape: Tourism and Nature in East Germany, 1945-1989

Under the sulfurous skies of the German Democratic Republic, entire forests appeared to be dying. Inspired by such ecological catastrophes, the environmental history of communism is most often framed as a story of decline – bleak and plodding collapse marked by passive, silent suffering until environmentalists organized within the Church. The People’s Own Landscape asks if such declensionist narratives are oversimplified. Before the environmental movement of the 1980s, what role did the environment play in state planning and everyday life? East Germany was also a welfare state that promised consumer pleasures, public health, tourist opportunities, and a high quality of life to its citizens. The above complaints of forest death reflect this postwar social contract; public anger seethed precisely because of the broken promises of rejuvenation and well-being. Environmental policy and environmental activism can only be understood as a part of larger East German discussion about health, sport, and modernization under a welfare dictatorship. While traditional conservation groups all but disappeared after 1945, this project explores how landscape architects and public health experts now led the fight for landscape protection – arguing that the land needed to be preserved for outdoor recreation and tourism, both of which were essential for winning popular support, but also for managing public health, molding popular morality, and increasing worker productivity. Beyond the realm of technocrats, vacationers demanded more campsites and bungalows in natural landscapes to satisfy their need for Erholung, or rejuvenation. In particular, the story of tourism, recreation, and the welfare state promises to complicate narratives of repression and resistance; a gray area persisted where environmental interests allied with the dictatorship in projects of social control and everyday citizens contributed to the destruction of open space as they pushed the state to satisfy consumer desires.

Kontaktperson – Thomas Schaarschmidt

Alle Rechte an Texten, Bildern und sonstigen Inhalten liegen beim ZZF (2011).