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Cold War EcologyForests, Farms, and People in the East German Landscape, 1945-1989$
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Arvid Nelson

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780300106602

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300106602.001.0001

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Landscape and Culture

Landscape and Culture

(p.10) 2 Landscape and Culture
Cold War Ecology

Arvid Nelson

Yale University Press

In this chapter, the author narrates his trip to East Germany in the early days after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He made observations of marshes, forests, and wetlands as well as the old Prussian “sand and pine” landscape east of the Elbe River. There were reports of a crisis in the eastern forest attributed to the four decades of conflict between Marxism-Leninism and the natural landscape. Forest management under the rule of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany is a testament to its competence and power. In the early years of the nineteenth century, Germany's forest landowners enclosed their forests, which prevented the peasants from foraging for fallen wood and gathering honey, collecting mushrooms, taking small game, and pasturing their livestock on oak and beech mast. Peasants opposed the closing of the forest commons and even won the support of the young Karl Marx. East Germany's forest decline was compounded by weak political geography and ecological and material deficits.

Keywords:   forests, East Germany, Marxism-Leninism, forest management, Socialist Unity Party, peasants, forest commons, Karl Marx, forest decline, political geography

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