The German Forest: Nature, Identity, and the Contestation of a National Symbol, 1871-1914

The German Forest: Nature, Identity, and the Contestation of a National Symbol, 1871-1914

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By Jeffrey K. Wilson
German and European Studies
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2017
World Rights
344 Pages
ISBN 9781487521677
Published Jul 2016
Online discount: 25%
 $34.95    $26.21
ISBN 9781442640993
Published Jun 2012
Online discount: 25%
 $80.00    $60.00
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442698048
Published Jun 2012
Online discount: 26%
Full purchase $34.95

From the late eighteenth century, Germans increasingly identified the fate of their nation with that of their woodlands. A variety of groups soon mobilized the 'German forest' as a national symbol, though often in ways that suited their own social, economic, and political interests. The German Forest is the first book-length history of the development and contestation of the concept of 'German' woodlands.

Jeffrey K. Wilson challenges the dominant interpretation that German connections to nature were based in agrarian romanticism rather than efforts at modernization. He explores a variety of conflicts over the symbol — from demands on landowners for public access to woodlands, to state attempts to integrate ethnic Slavs into German culture through forestry, and radical nationalist visions of woodlands as a model for the German 'race'. Through impressive primary and archival research, Wilson demonstrates that in addition to uniting Germans, the forest as a national symbol could also serve as a vehicle for protest and strife.

Jeffrey K. Wilson is an assistant professor in the Department of History at California State University, Sacramento.



Chapter I: National Landscape and National Memory

Chapter II: Contested Forests: Ideal Values and Real Estate

Chapter III: Environmental Activism: Berlin and the Grunewald

Chapter IV: Reforestation as Reform: Pomerelia and the Tuchel Heath

Chapter V: Meaningful Woods: Sylvan Metaphors and Arboreal Symbols




‘Wilson’s book would be important reading for any student of environmental history or the history of Western Europe in the modern age.’

Charles Closmann, Environment and History vol 21:04:2015

‘The book fills a real gap, not only in its chronological and spatial focus but also in drawing connections between the politics of the forest and the Heimat movement. Wilson offers a significant and persuasively narrated contribution to the history of Imperial Germany, of the forest, and of nationalism.’

Richard Hölzl, German History vol 32:02:2014

‘This well contextualized study provides an interesting example of environmental history, offering insights into the land and human relationships with it as well as revealing how much environment-related issues can tell us about humans as political animals.’

Brian Vick, American Historical Review, vol 118:03:2013