Monday, 12 June 2017


The White House’s systematic approach to censor and compartmentalise narratives that run counter to its message in removing websites and historical records are of course not without precedent and symmetrical responses to ensure that that data might live on, but it was particularly striking that there was a meeting space reserved for the resistance in East Germany that was also the repository of verboten knowledge—specifically of an environmental nature.
The pastor of East Berlin’s Zion church donated a suite of basement rooms from 1986 on to activists and organisers that became known as the Umwelt-Bibliothek, the Environment Library. Accruing more oppositional forces and eventually becoming the only free press outlet in the country, the environmental roots were important ones as documentation on safety studies of chemicals and impact-assessments of this heavily industrialised nation became suddenly inaccessible and the public were kept in the dark about very grave and immediate risks that production posed—not only to workers but also to those who lived in the footprint of factories. Despite repeated raids and operating in a police-state with mass-surveillance, the organisation survived East Germany, folding in 1998, but the archives as well as their newsletter is still maintained.