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Wyhl: The Mid-1970s Anti-nuclear Mobilization Efforts between a Small West German Village and Germany’s Younger Generation

  • Author(s): Christian, William Laurence
  • Advisor(s): Marcuse, Harold
  • et al.
Abstract

ABSTRACT

Wyhl: The Mid-1970s Anti-nuclear Mobilization Efforts between a Small West German Village and Germany’s Younger Generation

by

William Laurence Christian

In 1974 protesters in Wyhl, a taciturn village in Germany’s Kaiserstuhl area on the edge of the Black Forest, ushered in a crusade against nuclear energy. Inevitably, this particular movement challenged the perceived authoritarian rule of the West German government. Protesters in Wyhl began to prioritize the principles of regional and national concerns over the needs of individuals. The Bundesverband Bürgerinitiativen Umweltschutz, commonly referred to as the BBU (National Association of Citizen Action Groups for the Protection of the Environment) had been founded in 1972 and within a short period boasted more than 1,000 grassroots organizations throughout Germany. In Wyhl, there was a uniquely diverse coalition that included Catholics and Protestants, educated and uneducated individuals, conservative and liberal voters, as well as working and professional classes. This dissertation, however, will highlight the role and involvement of the younger generation of Germans, especially students from nearby

University of Freiburg who assisted the small agricultural community of Wyhl in its resistance against the government’s offensive environmental proposal to build a nuclear plant less than one kilometer from the historic Rhine River, and in the center of South Germany’s wine-growing region. This dissertation is the culmination of numerous personal interviews with former students, student leaders, community activists, cooks, and other behind the scenes participants. These protesters were essentially the “followers who led” one of Germany’s most effective anti-nuclear power movements.

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