An exploration of East German tourist practices of the 1970s and 1980s provides new insight into the country’s environmental politics
East Germany’s Socialist Unity Party aimed to placate a public well aware of the higher standards of living enjoyed elsewhere by encouraging them to participate in outdoor activities and take vacations in the countryside. Scott Moranda considers East Germany’s rural landscapes from the perspective of both technical experts (landscape architects, biologists, and physicians) who hoped to dictate how vacationers interacted with nature, and the vacationers themselves, whose outdoor experience shaped their understanding of environmental change. As authorities eliminated traditional tourist and nature conservation organizations, dissident conservationists demanded better protection of natural spaces. At the same time, many East Germans shared their government’s expectations for economic development that had real consequences for the land. By the 1980s, environmentalists saw themselves as outsiders struggling against the state and a public that had embraced mainstream ideas about limitless economic growth and material pleasures.
“Scott Moranda offers an innovative, well-researched, and carefully crafted examination of the relationship between tourism and environmental reform in the former German Democratic Republic . . . This is the first meaty investigation in English of GDR environmental history at the local level and, as such, will contribute to a number of growing fields of scholarship—European environmental history, the history of socialist states, 20th century German history, histories of everyday life, and tourism studies.”
—Thomas Lekan, University of South Carolina
Jacket image: Tourist map published by the Karl Marx City (now Chemnitz) district government’s department for recreation (Rat des Bezirkes Karl Marx Stadt, Abteilung Erholungswesen).