The protection of animals, both wild and domestic, was taken very seriously by the Nazis: in 1933 the Reichstag passed The Law of Animal Protection which banned vivisection and animal trapping, restricted hunting and even regulated the boiling of lobsters and crabs, along with much more. Hitler was vegetarian and encouraged his entourage to join him, and thus the link between Nature as a symbol of purity and timeless values with Fascism was firmly cemented.
It was against this background of admiration for the German ‘back to Nature’ movement that in the years following the publication of Tarka the Otter (please see previous ‘post’) that Henry Williamson edged ever closer to the British Union of Fascists, the infamous Blackshirts, which he eventually joined and became a leading figure.
Looking back it is clear that Williamson and his fascist friends, putting aside their wider political views, were staking out some of the ground covered by later environmentalists worried about destruction of the planet. For Williamson the motivation was the First World War and for later generations it was the shadow of the Bomb and the Cold War.
Former Wehrmacht and Bundeswehr general, Gert Bastian, wrote a pamphlet in the Sixties called ‘Generals for Peace and Disarmament: A challenge to US/NATO Strategy’, and was instrumental in the founding of the German Green Party with his charismatic partner, Petra Kelly; in The Lord of the Rings the evil Sauron and the Orcs live in the sinister land of Mordor while consuming the Earth’s plants and minerals, a book written by Tolkein partly as a protest against the Bomb and industrialisation.
In a sense the Bomb was both an emblem and an energising force for other environmental protests such as against pesticides highlighted by Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book Silent Spring and the march of industrialisation that flowed back into social protests such as against the Vietnam War, when the use of Agent Orange was a visible symbol of the environmental destructiveness of war.
To match the scale of the problems the environmentalists organised themselves into global armies such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace who even named their campaign ship Rainbow Warrior; by a twist of irony the ship was blown up by French intelligence agents in Auckland harbour where it was leading protests against French nuclear warhead tests in the south Pacific.
Jasper Humphreys, The Marjan Centre