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Nature of the Miracle Years: Conservation in West Germany, 1945-1975

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Volume 8

Studies in German History

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Nature of the Miracle Years

Conservation in West Germany, 1945-1975

Sandra Chaney
Published in Association with the German Historical Institute, Washington

306 pages, 6 maps, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-430-2 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (May 2008)

ISBN  978-0-85745-840-7 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (August 2012)

eISBN 978-0-85745-005-0 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®



“…the first book-length study in English of the ideas, aims, and actions of conservationists in West Germany between 1945 and 1975, placing conservation in the mainstream of German political and cultural history…This fully researched and readable narrative, interspersed with three illustrative case studies, provides an excellent account of conservation in West Germany.” • Choice

“Chaney provides a valuable bridge between previous studies of conservation policy in the first half of the twentieth century, including the Third Reich,…and provides an important account of the rebirth of the postwar conservation movement that led to the greening of German politics.” • German Politics & Society

“Chaney’s study is one of the best recent works on German conservation. In great detail it traces the  gradual development of the movement, attending closely to subtle but fundamental changes in rhetoric… Her book is essential reading for anyone interested in the roots of contemporary environmentalism, the evolution of protest movements, and the steady democratization of postwar German society.” • Central European History

“This well-structured study of conservation during the miracle years is a concise, readable, and thematically profound analysis of trends in the Federal Republic of Germany.” • Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, London

“Chaney’s overview of the West German conservation movement is to be recommended, not least because it is the first of its kind; no one who is dealing with this topic can afford to ignore it.” • Neue Politische Literatur

“Chaney's book is a welcome addition to the scholarship on German environmental history. The first English-language study of German conservation after World War II, her work is also a model of painstaking research and careful argument. It will appeal to students of German history and global environmental history for years to come.” • H-German

“What makes Chaney’s study stand out from other studies of its kind is its focus on the backgrounds and philosophies of key players in the various national and regional conservation organizations as they navigated the early years of West German democracy.” • German Studies Review


After 1945, those responsible for conservation in Germany resumed their work with a relatively high degree of continuity as far as laws and personnel were concerned. Yet conservationists soon found they had little choice but to modernize their views and practices in the challenging postwar context. Forced to change by necessity, those involved in state-sponsored conservation institutionalized and professionalized their efforts, while several private groups became more confrontational in their message and tactics. Through their steady and often conservative presence within the mainstream of West German society, conservationists ensured that by 1970 the map of the country was dotted with hundreds of reserves, dozens of nature parks, and one national park. In doing so, they assured themselves a strong position to participate in, rather than be excluded from, the left-leaning environmental movement of the 1970s.

Sandra Chaney is Professor of History at Cottey College, Nevada, Missouri, where she teaches courses in European and women’s history and contemporary global issues.

Subject: Environmental Studies (General)History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Germany


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