An autonomous reflection on the continuation of the struggle in Dannenrod Forest


Via Enough is Enough

Dannenrod. Germany. Another reflection on the eviction and deforestation of the Dannenrod forest. Nothing is over, everything is just beginning…

Originally published by Indymedia DE. Translated by Enough 14.

The Danni (Dannenrod forest occupation) becomes a symbol of what is destroyed when one insists on extending an old, outdated transport system that is driving us into the climate crisis with full force. Building more highways is a double disaster. It means the destruction of forests and other natural areas that actually help us in the fight against global warming, and making space for more cars, which increases pollution with greenhouse gases and other pollutants. To clear a forest for a new highway in 2020 – at a time of climate crisis and other disasters – to build it in a forest that is home to trees over 200 years old and many endangered species – not to mention a vital water reservoir for the region – is and reveals the hypocrisy of the green promises of the German government and a supposed political opposition. The Greens presented themselves at their party conference as what they really are and have always been: Opportunistic power players. But they will fall on their faces. In Danni and everywhere else where they want to exploit us. We have all known for a long time: yesterday’s red-green will be the new black-green [1].

But it is not only about the German green party, state governments or the hypocritical allusions to “realpolitik decisions”. It is about a place that stands for something. Almost everyone who has been there has learned to love the Dannenrod forest. This place has done something with many people. But what is special there, what is different? It is a different feeling to be out of the confinement and noise of the city, to be on the road without cell phones, this surveillance and communication technology that manipulates and controls us incessantly. Instead, in the forest, in nature with friends and companions. But it can’t only be the beautiful landscape. So what else is it? Real resistance happens in Danni! Not the blurred and lazy compromise that we constantly have to experience in life and political struggle in the city/system. Instead, a clear line of separation with the enemy, people who enter into resistance with their bodies, their existences, and a collective spirit of “You have to go through us before you can go through this forest! The resistance lives permanently in a collective moment. It lives in the cooking and the campfires, in the erection of structures and barricades, in the organization inside and outside the forest, in taking care of and supporting each other and in solidarity with the prisoners, as well as in the recurring occupations, blockades and attacks on the cops and the sabotage of machinery and infrastructure that has been used.

It is not only about the climate crisis, not only about the biodiversity in the forest, explicitly protecting this forest. The resistance in the forest is not only a defensive struggle, but a political offensive against state and capital interests on a territorial and practical level. It is about the possibility to think of another here and now. It is about creating free space to fight against the system on different levels.

The fight is exhausting. The logging season is cold and wet. The police are now able to move in the forest with increasing self-confidence and coordination, increasingly winning and penetrating the territory. Thereby they accept the risk of severely injured and dead activists, they treat the people in the forest and the prisoners like the last dirt, but show once more that with their enmity for life they stand against every will for freedom and a better world. Jumpy, they protect their fortress on the logging trail, moving only behind their fence and barbed wire without helmets and baton, trying to illuminate the uncontrollable darkness of the forest with countless floodlights.

The struggle in the forest has never been non-violent. From the start, it was clear that building structures and demanding that the forest remains untouched meant standing in the way of police brutality and its main driver, capitalist interests. This was already the case with the Hambacher Forest or the French ZADs such as Bure or Notre-Dame-des-Landes. For many in the occupation of the forest, it is not a matter of expressing their disagreement with the Hessian state government within the framework of the laws, but of defending their unconditional rejection of the destructive capitalist logic. With their bodies, with their words or with some friends and a bag full of stones.

The Dannenröder Forst can become the runway 18 west [2] of our generation. The potential for social mobilization is huge. If we learn from the struggles of the past, we can lead a successful political struggle here that will change the reality of the future. In Danni we see vitality and passion, a fighting movement and lived values – testimonies of another, possible better, world. And all those who have been, are or will be there will be able to confirm that one feels a little bit more free in the practical struggle for nature on various levels. It is the freedom to which one comes closer in the struggle than in any other way.

The battle for the Dannenrod forest is an experience that no one can take away from us. We must be aware of this. Because from this experience, much bigger things can be created, if we do it right. It can take us further and tear us away from the rigidity of defensive struggles and intensified repression. The choice of militant methods does not come from despair, it is not an expression of chaos or provocation, and it is not a “last resort”. Militancy is an essential part of the defense and offensive of our policies. It only works in combination with the building of structures, communication and exchange with each other. It consists of fighting with each other and in no case negotiating, talking or cooperating with the cops. It does not end with the imprisonment of our friends, but at that point it must ignite. Further it needs now all the more a discussion about a tactic and a bringing together of the different struggles. The forest concerns everyone. The broad, diverse climate movement, anarchists, communists and autonomous people in the cities, forest dwellers and tireless squatters, just like our parents and grandparents. Accordingly, militancy cannot take place as a marginal phenomenon, separated from such diversity. The sudden appearance of hooded, angry people between the trees, who choose to attack the police directly, is an integral part of the conflict for a better future. In this context, the various forms of action, moments and strategies support and reinforce each other and must do so all the more in the future. We have to organize ourselves, plan the attacks and be able to recognize and use situations. We must bring together the experiences from the struggles in the forest and translate them into the cities.

For many, the eviction of the occupation and the logging of the forest will be a hard emotional and political cut. There are still people in pre-trial detention. And the severity of the repression and the brutality of the cops will leave its traces. They talk about legality, they claim to “rescue” people from the trees and present themselves as a de-escalative force of order, who are just doing their job. After cutting safety ropes several times, resulting in life-threatening crashes, they twist the reality of their violence and ultimately try to present themselves as the party that suffers. The cops are political actors themselves. As chain dogs of the ruling class, they are the executive of a destructive ideology of exploitation, in whose interest it is to deter future resistance through violence and fear in order to secure their profits for the future.

Let’s not kid ourselves – the first battle for the forest has been fought, barrios evicted and forests cleared. But the struggle is far from over. The A49 [3] has become a symbol of the fight for climate justice in the German public view and beyond. The question of what can be done and who bears which responsibility is more open than ever on the agenda.

It is about the possibilities of keeping going and the continuity and new formation of the movement. For the time being, the rulers have made the place their territory, with bulldozers, gravel and fences. Yet this does not mean that they have reached their goal. The highway still has to be built. There is still forest around the route and the countless amount of cops will not be able to stay forever. The construction machinery and infrastructure are still as expensive as they are destructible.

We must regroup and organize a second spring for the resistance in the Dannenrod forest. For all comrades from outside this means to support the squatters urgently, to rebuild structures, to maintain the resistance through the winter and to not forget the prisoners in the jails.

In a second step we have to analyze our mistakes and omissions of the last year and improve. The different actions must be better coordinated. We should see the diversity of the forms of action and organization as our strength. The interlocking and solidarity of the different tactics can be our safety belt. In addition, we should more actively seek exchange and discussion with the villagers in particular and, as revolutionaries, strengthen the ties with the local population. To this end, we propose to use the spring to move back into the forest and build structures and to proclaim the summer as a phase of intense resistance. The sporadic offensive moments must become a wave that develops the necessary power to smash the morbid A49 project and to give the climate justice movement a push into the offensive.

The struggle against the A49 can bring us forward in terms of organization and substance, initiate new necessary encounters and teach us to turn defeats into victories!

Freedom for all political prisoners!

For an attack against destruction!

All Cops are Targets!

Translation notes

[1] The coalitions of state- and federal governments are often red-green (SPD, social democrats) and the Green party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) or now also black-green (CDU, conservatives) and the German green party.

[2] Runway 18 West (German Startbahn 18 West) is a 4000 meter long runway at Frankfurt Airport, which is located in its western part and runs from north to south. The smaller northern part is located in the Frankfurt district of Flughafen,the larger southern part on the district Rüsselsheim am Main. Before the runway went into operation in 1984, the plans met with considerable protest and became one of the most important points of reference for the German environmental movement of the 1970s and 1980s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runway_18_West

[3] Bundesautobahn 49 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 49, short form Autobahn 49, abbreviated as BAB 49 or A 49) is a federal motorway running through north Hesse. It connects Kassel with the Schwalm-Eder-Kreis, where it ends in Neuental. The motorway is planned to be extended to Gemünden (Felda) with a connection to A 5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundesautobahn_49