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German History in Documents and Images
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Water Pollution in North Rhine-Westphalia (1958)
The layer of foam visible in this 1958 photograph of the Niers River in the heavily industrialized state of North Rhine-Westphalia makes clear that the negative effects of West Germany's postwar industrial reconstruction and the ecological downsides of the "economic miracle" were already apparent in the 1950s. It was only in the 1970s, however, that the larger public recognized the true extent of the problem and politicians responded. Photo by Herbert Werner Gewande.