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Todesstreifen 1991.JPG

Nature next to the Wall

"Nature" next to cold-war cruelty and brutality? Yes, in Germany - but almost lost today.

30 years ago, when the Wall came down in the middle of Germany, a hidden treasure existed. This documentary followed its traces all across once-separated East and West Germany.

Exactly where armored communist border patrols had established the inhumane and infamous Wall, nature had flourished. Wild animals, birds and plants thrived in the shadow of mine fields and brutal, war-like fences. It sounds absurd, but was true: Exactly there, where East German soldiers targeted trespassers with deadly weapons, nature found peace and quiet. 

Shortly after the Wall came down 1989, wildlife conservationists warned about the destruction of a unique and singular, man-made paradiese for wildlife. Rare eagles, storchs and many other big and small birds flourished from gigantic cold-war military construction. 

The film once dared to enter dangerous prohibited areas along the former German-German border. Today the ingenuity and uniqueness of the area has largely been lost to roads and constructions.

DDR-Todesstreifen an der Elbe, 1991, Filmszene Natur im Todesstreifen

On almost 1.300 km a once "Green Band" cut through all German landscapes: From sea to mountains. 

The former East German border protection was ruthless and led to the killing of more than 100 innocent German people along the Wall. There die not exist a real Wall everywhere. Instead, an incredible military no-trespassing area had been established. Sometimes stretching several kilometers into the East German territory. The land and nature had been completely sealed-off für more than 25 years. Wildlife and nature did not care about fences nor and smart self-firing-systems. Wildlife found military protected shelter. 

Geräumtes Minenfeld im DDR-Todesstreifen, Kamera Alexander K. Ammer
Filmcrew Natur im Todesstreifen lehnt an DDR-Mauer 1991
Stuttg. Natur
DDR-Grenze 1991 Filmszene Natur im Todesstreifen

Magical Beauty - just next to military watchtowers.

Already in 1990, the then-freed areas faced unprecedented traffic, high recreational pressures and countless business and infrastructure constructions. In times of newly found freedom, nature conservation did not came top of mind. In above picture, we just entered a previous area of military blasting mines. A great forest had thrived without other human intervention. After reunification, the quietness and protection of the areas disappeared. Today, most wildlife areas have been lost. 

In the North, the former border ran through many beautiful lakes. In mid-Germany rare mixed-forest areas sheltered many endangered species. The film shows lost ecological treasures.

Great, protected landscapes - just next to human's most absurd military areas.

The picture depicts part of the film team, leaning against remainders of the Wall. Today this Wall is gone and its natural wonders encapsuled next to it, have long disappeared. Looking back, one key question of the documentary remains unanswered.

Are humans able to protect nature, its beauty and diversity? As a matter of fact, the "Green Band" has lost most of its endangered wildlife. Animals could not adjust to human freedom. Many endangered species (animals/ amphibia/ plants) went extinct in these areas. Will nature today only be able to flourish in no-go areas for humans?

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