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Environmental Organizations in Modern Germany

Environmental Organizations in Modern Germany: Hardy Survivors in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

William T. Markham
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Environmental Organizations in Modern Germany
    Book Description:

    German environmental organizations have doggedly pursued environmental protection through difficult times: hyperinflation and war, National Socialist rule, postwar devastation, state socialism in the GDR, and confrontation with the authorities during the 1970s and 1980s. The author recounts the fascinating and sometimes dramatic story of these organizations from their origins at the end of the nineteenth century to the present, not only describing how they reacted to powerful social movements, including the homeland protection and socialist movements in the early years of the twentieth century, the Nazi movement, and the anti-nuclear and new social movements of the 1970s and 1980s, but also examining strategies for survival in periods like the current one, when environmental concerns are not at the top of the national agenda. Previous analyses of environmental organizations have almost invariably viewed them as parts of larger social structures, that is, as components of social movements, as interest groups within a political system, or as contributors to civil society. This book, by contrast, starts from the premise that through the use of theories developed specifically to analyze the behavior of organizations and NGOs we can gain additional insight into why environmental organizations behave as they do.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-030-2
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book combines a sociological analysis of the history of German environmental organizations in the twentieth century with an analysis of the dilemmas and strategy decisions that confronted them as they entered the twenty-first. The history is a fascinating and sometimes dramatic story of organizations that have doggedly pursued environmental protection through difficult times—times of hyperinflation and war, National Socialist rule, postwar devastation, state socialism, and confrontations with the authorities during the 1970s and 1980s. It is also a history punctuated by the organizations’ encounters with powerful social movements from across the political spectrum—homeland protection and socialism in...

  6. Chapter 2 Environmental Organizations: Theoretical Considerations
    (pp. 13-42)

    This book examines both the history and present-day status of large, national environmental organizations in Germany. It focuses on why they have chosen the goals, strategies, and structures that they have, emphasizing, in particular, those decisions that constitute “dilemmas” for the organizations. I examine the factors in the organizations’ political and social contexts that influence their decisions, how the choices made to deal with one dilemma influence the remaining ones, and the consequences of their choices for the organizations and their roles in society.

    I believe that these issues can be understood without bombarding readers with the sometimes arcane terminology...

  7. Chapter 3 The Origins of Nature Protection Organizations in Germany: Conservative Reactionaries, Protectors of Nature, and Social Democracy at the Beginning of the Century
    (pp. 43-68)

    National-level organizations concerned with protecting the environment first arose in Germany—as in the US and most other European countries (Dalton, 1994; Kline, 2000)—near the end of the nineteenth century.¹ They appeared in the context of a nation state then only a quarter of a century old, at a time when national-level interest groups in business, labor, and social welfare were also coalescing (Reutter, 2001), and when political debate and legislation about environmental damage and the establishment of government agencies to protect nature were just getting underway.

    The turn of the twentieth century was also marked by disruptive changes...

  8. Chapter 4 Nazism, the War, and Its Aftermath: The Causes and Consequences of Right-Wing Ecology
    (pp. 69-93)

    By the 1920s, national organizations with environmental goals, all emphasizing nature protection, had achieved significant memberships, considerable stability, and a modest degree of institutionalization and influence in Germany, occupying differentiated niches with their own objectives and constituencies.¹ All but the Friends of Nature received small government subsidies and had at least occasional input into political decision making, while the Friends of Nature had its own network of connections to parties of the left and other workers’ organizations. This arrangement was disrupted in the early 1930s by the rise of National Socialism, a powerful social movement with an ideology that included...

  9. Chapter 5 Confrontation and Counterculture: Ecology from the Left in a Turbulent Era
    (pp. 94-127)

    The postwar period of relative quiet on the environmental front in West Germany came to an end in the 1970s, when a confluence of events brought environmental issues to the fore and called forth a large and, at times, radical environmental movement centered around opposition to nuclear power.¹ The long-established nature protection organizations played almost no role in bringing about this movement, but the period of polarization and confrontation that ensued confronted them with both enormous challenges and opportunities to which they had to respond. It also led to the establishment of new environmental organizations born out of the movement....

  10. Chapter 6 Nature and Environmental Protection Eastern-Style: Environmental Organizations in the German Democratic Republic
    (pp. 128-152)

    Events in the Soviet occupation zone and German Democratic Republic followed a different trajectory from those in the West, posing different challenges for nature protection advocates.¹ East Germany emerged from the war a shattered, resource-poor land under strong pressure from the Soviets to build a socialist state and orient itself to the Eastern Bloc. Nature protection groups in the East, which had just emerged from the Nazigleichschaltungexperience, soon found themselves once again confronted by an authoritarian state, which forced them to sever ties with their peers in the West and subordinate themselves to state-controlled organizations. Yet environmental interest...

  11. Chapter 7 New Challenges at Century’s End
    (pp. 153-174)

    The period of polarization and confrontation described in Chapter 5 continued into the 1980s. Yet by the beginning of the decade, new trends were already emerging, trends that both signaled the end of the period of polarization and shaped the challenges facing the large national environmental organizations as they entered the twenty-first century. This chapter discusses six such trends: the institutionalization of environmentalism, reduced coverage of environmental issues in the media, the decline of polarization and protest, the rise of competing political issues, the rise of new types of environmental issues, and changing public opinion about environmental issues. Although these...

  12. Chapter 8 The Social Context of Environmental Organizations at the Beginning of a New Century
    (pp. 175-218)

    The changes described in the previous chapter—the institutionalization of environmentalism, decreased coverage of environmental issues in the media, diminished polarization and protest over environmental issues, the rise of competing political issues, the appearance of new environmental issues, and the declining relative priority of environmental issues in the public mind—combined to produce many new challenges and some new opportunities for Germany’s major environmental organizations. They find themselves today in a complex social context in which they must adapt to demographic and geographic factors, economic and political institutions, the growing importance of the European Union, the characteristics and preferences of...

  13. Chapter 9 Major Environmental Organizations in Germany: Four Profiles
    (pp. 219-244)

    By the last decade of the twentieth century, four large organizations, the German Nature Protection League (NABU), the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), the German League for Environment and Nature Protection (BUND), and Greenpeace, each with over 250,000 supporters, had come to be generally recognized as the most important German environmental organizations (Rucht, 1989; Blühdorn, 1995; Bergstedt, 2002; Foljanty-Jost, 2004; Brand, in press). The precipitous decline of the BBU, the demise of the GNU, the self-imposed limitation of the Green League to the territory of the former East Germany, the stalled growth of Robin Wood, and the continued marginal role...

  14. Chapter 10 Dilemmas of Internal Structure: Professionalization and Centralization
    (pp. 245-263)

    Numerous dimensions of organizational structure have been examined in the literature about organizations (Price and Mueller, 1986; Hall, 2002); however, not all of these are equally salient for understanding how environmental organizations cope with pressures from their external environments, how they function internally, and how effective they are in trying to advance their objectives. The literature reviewed in Chapter 2 identifies two dimensions of internal structure, professionalization and centralization, as especially problematic, and my research supports this hypothesis. As the organizations entered the twenty-first century, questions about how much to rely on paid professionals versus volunteers and whether to opt...

  15. Chapter 11 Dilemmas of Resource Acquisition: The Perils of Fundraising
    (pp. 264-288)

    Present-day efforts by NABU, the WWF, BUND, and Greenpeace to influence public policy and public opinion through ambitious, wide-ranging campaigns mounted by large professional staffs require budgets of a different order of magnitude than those of the volunteer-staffed nature protection organizations of a half-century ago. Acquiring large amounts of cash has thus become an unavoidable necessity for both the national organizations (Oswald von Nell Breuning Institut, 1996; Rat von Sachverständigen für Umweltfrage, 1996) and their regional branches (Maxim and Degenhardt, 2003).

    While the organizations can raise small amounts of money from sales of merchandise, there are only four possible sources...

  16. Chapter 12 Dilemmas of Goals and Strategies: Confrontation, Cooperation, and Competition
    (pp. 289-318)

    The third set of dilemmas environmental organizations face centers around choosing goals and the strategies for reaching them. Goal setting is problematic because abstract goals, such as saving the environment or protecting nature, have to be translated into operative goals (Perrow, 1961), such as increasing public knowledge of global warming or blocking a particular legislative initiative. In view of the multiplicity of conditions that might be defined as environmental problems, the uncertainty of scientific knowledge about the causes and effects of these conditions, and uncertainty about what initiatives might have the most effect on politics, industry, and citizen behavior, choosing...

  17. Chapter 13 Concluding Observations
    (pp. 319-344)

    This final chapter undertakes four tasks. First, I look back at the history of German environmental organizations to identify patterns and formulate generalizations useful for understanding the German experience and, potentially, environmental organizations in other Western nations as well. Second, I develop a model, grounded in organization theory, which identifies the dilemmas the four most important environmental organizations faced at the beginning of the twenty-first century and helps to explain their strategies for coping with them. Third, I examine the implications of this research for improving theory about environmental organizations. Finally, I reflect briefly on the possible futures of German...

  18. References
    (pp. 345-395)
  19. Index
    (pp. 396-407)