The ecological movement in the GDR developed in the 1970s. Driven by church-affiliated youth groups, the movement pointed out the discrepancy between official avowals of concern for the environment and the destruction of nature that was happening in reality. In one expression of environmental consciousness, young people planted trees in public places. The first documented tree-planting initiative happened in Schwerin in September 16–18, 1979, when a fifty-member church youth group planted approximately 5,000 trees and shrubs along a trolley line. This idea was taken up by groups in other GDR cities, including Rostock, Leipzig, and Berlin. This photograph documents a tree-planting initiative at the Samariterkirche (Samaritan Church) in East Berlin in 1985. This church, which was led by pastor Rainer Eppelmann, was one of the centers and gathering places for the GDR peace and youth movements.

Tree-Planting Initiative at the Samaritan Church in East Berlin (1985)


Source: Photo: Bernd Weu. Archive of the Robert Havemann Gesellschaft. Signature: RHG_Fo_BWeu_0496.

© Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/ Bernd Weu