16 Mar 2008, 5:42pm
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by admin

Green, brown and bloody all over

By Boaz Neumann, Haaretz.com, the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel [here]

“How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment and Nation in the Third Reich (Ecology and History)” by Franz-Josef Brueggemeier, Mark Cioc and Thomas Zeller, Ohio University Press, 288 pages, $22.95

“The Green and the Brown: A History of Conservation in Nazi Germany (Studies in Environment and History)” by Frank Uekoetter, Cambridge University Press, 246 pages, $23.99

Nazism and ecology? The Nazi party as a green movement? At first glance such analogies seem ridiculous, absurd, outrageous. In 1985, historian Anna Bramwell published a book in which she claimed outright that the Nazi party was a “green party.” She focused on Richard Walther Darre, the agricultural minister of Nazi Germany, and his “Blut und Boden” (”blood and soil”) ideology. Darre, wrote Bramwell, was the head of the “green” faction of the Nazi party, which greatly influenced the thinking of leading Nazis, among them Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich. Bramwell called Darre the “father of the greens” for his support of organic agriculture, restrictions on the use of mechanized farming methods, and so on. In its time, if I am not mistaken, the book was quite esoteric.

In recent years, however, a growing number of articles and books, primarily academic texts, have been written on the subject. One of the more dominant titles is “How Green Were the Nazis?” In other words, the question “Were the Nazis green?” has already been answered. Another book with a no-less- provocative name is “The Green and the Brown.” Brown, for those who have forgotten, was associated with the Nazis because it was the color of the shirts worn by their stormtroopers.

So this is clearly a difficult and emotional subject, like all historical and historiographic issues related to Nazism. Were the Nazis “green,” and if so, how green? What does that say about them? Does it change our perception of their crimes? In what light does this place the green movement and ecological activism in the 20th century?

In July 1935, Germany’s Nazi regime headed by Adolf Hitler passed the Reich Nature Protection Law. It was one of the most progressive laws of its time. First of all, it was a federal law that applied to the whole country and not just a local ordinance, as had been customary in the past. It was also unprecedented in scope: The law protected nature and the environment in the name of the German people and for their sake, and prevented damage that might have been caused by economic development in undeveloped areas. Anyone whose actions were liable to harm nature or alter the landscape in any significant way, such as developers and building contractors, had to obtain permission from the Reich nature protection office. This legislation also protected bridges, roads, buildings and other landmarks perceived as having German historical-cultural value. It imposed restrictions on advertisements that marred the landscape and, in some cases, banned them altogether. In Britain, legislation of this scope was only introduced after World War II, and in France, as late as the 1960s. … [more]



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