GHDI logo

Environmentalists Protest the Building of a Nuclear Power Plant in Wyhl (1975)

page 3 of 3    print version    return to list previous document      next document

The spokespersons for the civic action groups from the different villages were the ones who most clearly represented the public’s opinion. Alarmed by warnings from environmentalists and by a wave of environmental scandals, which the media was at least reporting, they initially pleaded economic interests. They have good reason to fear for agriculture: the maize and grain fields, fruit and tobacco plantations, fisheries for ground water, the woods. The most solid group are the vintners. Supported for years by subsidies, vine transfers, the introduction of modern methods, and a lot of family work, winegrowing in Kaiserstuhl is now supposed to be sacrificed to the interest of big industry. Not a soul understands why. That's why the crisis of confidence is so drastic. Previously the government had sent subsidies, and now [it’s sending] the nuclear industry. “We can’t just strap our fields over our shoulder and move away,” says a tobacco planter. And this also goes for the part-time farmers who work at Rhodia in Freiberg or Klöckner in Malterdingen: in every crisis heretofore, their land, their house, their portion of a vineyard had been a form of security, a useful fallback.

The spokesperson for the civic action groups are so well informed, better than we used to be, better than many (otherwise critical-minded) big-city dwellers who confuse the entire movement with Luddism. Many villagers, even those who don’t read much, have been attending information meetings for years, reading books, distributing leaflets and stuffing them individually by the thousands into mailboxes (within a 50 km vicinity!), demonstrating, and sending out letters to the editor.

The public did not restrict itself to listening during the two days of the discussion meeting. It revolted by chanting in chorus, heckling, and whistling whenever the official lies became too outrageous. After some arrogant, authoritarian utterances from chairman Grawe, a tumult broke out for minutes on end. For the first time, people called out in a lapidary chorus: “The nuclear power plant will not be built!” And when the civic action groups issued a call for a walkout on the afternoon of July 10, about the only ones remaining in the hall were the government, industry, the police, and the press – quite a striking alliance.

[ . . . ]

Source: Walter Mossmann, „Die Bevölkerung ist hellwach!“ [“The Population is Wide Awake!”], Kursbuch 1975, no. 39, p. 129 ff; reprinted in Christoph Kleßmann and Georg Wagner, eds., Das gespaltene Land. Leben in Deutschland 1945-1990 [The Divided Country. Life in Germany 1945-1990]. Munich, 1993, pp. 260-62.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

first page < previous   |   next > last page