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Nature protection during national socialism

Naturschutz während des Nationalsozialismus
[journal article]

Riechers, Burkhardt

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Abstract Der Autor weist zunächst auf die Bedeutung einer Geschichte des Umweltschutzes bzw. einer Geschichte der Ökologie-Bewegung hin. Sodann wird das gegensätzliche Bild des Naturschutzes während des Nationalsozialismus herausgearbeitet. Dieses wird in der Funktionalisierung der (romantisch) anti modernistischen Haltung des Bürgertums zu Zwecken einer ökonomisch orientierten Wachstumspolitik gesehen. Der Autor wirft sodann einen Blick auf den Beginn des Naturschutzes und des Heimatschutzes während der Jahrhundertwende. Im weiteren wird die Ideologie des Naturschutzes und der Naturschutzpolitik während des Nationalsozialismus näher untersucht. Abschließend werden die (negativen) Folgen der nationalsozialistischen Natur-Ideologie für die heutige Ökologiedebatte diskutiert. (ICD)

'The discipline of Environmental History research should include studies which examine the acknowledgement, evaluation and resolution of environmental crises of ecological movements. There are just some few authors who have explored ecological movements under the era of National Socialism. Protection of nature is one of those movements which, even before 1933, presented a contradictory, ambivalent image: One the one hand, the protectors of nature had been deeply influenced by contemporary cultural criticism and by the distinctive German-nation consciousness integral to large parts of the educated middle-classes since the Wilhelminian era. On the other hand, however, rearmament and war preparations demanded a partial autarchy of the Reich with regard to the provision of food; consequently the struggle to raise the level of food production and the Four-Year Plan demanded the conversion of ecologically valuable natural and cultural land into cleared farming and grazing areas. Nature protectors were forced to collaborate in bringing forward this development, as their concept of nature protection demanded a cooperation with the government as the only possible alternative, regardless what direction it would take them. Besides, they were unable to argue, and more so to recognize the fundamental conflict between economy and ecology. Even in the time after 1945, and scarcely nowadays is the past of the nature protection movement adequately investigated. Reasons form this situation may be found in the training of the protectors in the natural sciences, who had begun to recognize the social dimensions of their work and to develop a democratic conception of protection. The propagation of an 'ecological ethic' and the rejection of an anthropocentric notion of nature protection have the same roots, and give evidence of an ahistorical way of seeing what hinders rather than furthers the cause of protection.' (author's abstract)
Keywords ethics; ideology; Nazism; conservation; ecology; social movement
Classification Ecology, Environment; General History
Method descriptive study
Document language English
Publication Year 1996
Page/Pages p. 34-56
Journal Historical Social Research, 21 (1996) 3
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works