The new German Democratic Republic, known as East Germany, faced many challenges when it was founded in 1949. Not least of which was convincing its citizens that they should be loyal to the new state and mobilizing the population towards its ideological goals. In The People's Own Landscape: Nature, Tourism and Dictatorship in East Germany
(University of Michigan Press, 2014), Scott Moranda
explores how the Socialist Unity Party (SED) attempted to use tourism and landscape planning to reshape East Germans' definition of their homeland. He also demonstrates the messy boundaries between state and society, in which East Germans refused to change patterns of pre-World War II nature activities such as hiking and camping; conservationists and the regime found common ground on concepts of landscape management; and environmentalism resulted in a fundamental break between society and the state. The People's Landscape
contributes to our understanding of East Germany's environmental history as well as to our understanding of the nuances of the relationship between state and society under dictatorships.
Scott Moranda is Associate Director of History at SUNY Cortland.