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4. Responses to Social Conflicts
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Overview   |   1. The Deepening of Division   |   2. The Conflict between Democracy and Dictatorship   |   3. Strains in the Social Market Economy   |   4. Responses to Social Conflicts   |   5. Uncertainties of Modernist Culture   |   6. Western Success and Eastern Failure

Another result of the Wertewandel of the generational revolt was the formation of a broad environmental movement in the Federal Republic. Traditional concerns with nature deepened in the 1960s as a result of urban sprawl and the massive spread of automobiles, which seemed to bear out the warnings of the Club of Rome about the limits of growth. Local citizens' groups began to agitate for the preservation of particularly scenic spots such as the Wutach gorge in the Black Forest, which was threatened by a new power dam. With the support of farmers, leftist youths started to voice apocalyptic fears about potential accidents at nuclear power plants, and they confronted the construction efforts in a series of sometimes violent clashes. By the end of the 1970s, these diverse initiatives converged in the founding of a new political party, eventually called the Green Party. In the GDR, it was first in the 1980s that environmental groups emerged and protested the devastation wrought by strip-mining and chemical plants. SED repression left them little choice but to adopt a dissident stance (23).

A final aspect of civic mobilization was the emergence of a strong peace movement that eventually spilled across the German-German border. In both German states, the fear of war was particularly strong, because the Cold War had concentrated an enormous amount of troops and weaponry, including nuclear bombs, on German soil. NATO's dual-track decision of 1979 therefore triggered broad public agitation in West Germany, as part of which trade unions, churches, and intellectuals spoke out against the stationing of additional missiles. The trauma of World War II had produced widespread opposition to rearmament and led to lenient treatment of conscientious objection to military service by instituting an alternative civilian service. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the GDR leadership cloaked itself in the mantle of peace as it militarized its own society through mandatory paramilitary training in schools. Under the slogan "swords into plowshares," an independent East German peace movement formed in the shadow of the Protestant Church, which criticized the ballistic nuclear arms race (24).

(23) Andrei Markovits and Philip S. Gorski, The German Left: Red, Green and Beyond (New York, 1993); Gene E. Frankland and Donald Schoonmaker, Between Protest and Power. The Green Party in Germany (Boulder, CO, 1992).
(24) Jeffrey Herf, War by Other Means: Soviet Power, West German Resistance, and the Battle of the Euromissiles (New York, 1991).

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