Grimme Online Award for MDR WISSEN project “Environment in East Germany”

That’s what this project is about

For decades, the catastrophic GDR planned economy pushed people and nature to the limits of their resilience. The region around Bitterfeld, for example, was classified internally as uninhabitable for children without informing the parents. Bitterfeld itself was popularly known as the dirtiest town in Europe, Mölbis near Leipzig as the dirtiest village.

It was primarily highly toxic sulfur dioxide from lignite-fired power plants, industrial emissions and private coal-fired ovens that polluted the air. For comparison: During the notorious London smog in 1952 with several fatalities, the measuring stations showed 3,580 μg/m³. The smog of January 1985 in Leipzig reached values ​​of up to 4,999 μg/m³ – the measuring devices could not show more.

After reunification, the country experienced a multi-billion dollar recovery program that made the air, water and soil cleaner and made some places livable again in the first place. The area of ​​the former East is today – at least in terms of landscape – greener than ever. And yet we are concerned with the consequences of the committed environmental sins to this day. Almost twenty percent of the total area is still classified as a contaminated site.

In our interactive story scroll from the air to the ground – and you can experience where our actions create new and often even bigger environmental problems.

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