Free Republic of Wendland

From Anarchy In Action

The Free Republic of Wendland was a German anti-nuclear movement blockade in Gorleben in 1980.

In 1977, local farmers began protesting in Gorleben at a site where the nuclear industry had started building an underground nuclear waste disposal facility. On 31 March 1979, farmers drove hundreds of tractors and mobilized over 100,000 marchers against the project. Industry paused construction after the Three Mile Island meltdown in the US, but when construction began again, it was blocked for about a month by a libertarian communist encampment known as the Free Republic of Wendland.

From 3 May to 6 June 1980, five thousand people occupied the construction site. People built a city out of felled trees. Local farmers brought them food and materials. The Republic issued passports, broadcast radio shows, and printed newspapers. Goergy Katsiaficas recounts:

Gorleben was one of the few places I felt at home in German public life. Unlike in normal everyday life, I did not feel like an outsider. No one approached me as a Turk nor reproached me for being an American. Indeed, national identities were temporarily suspended, since we were all citizens of the Free Republic of Wendland and owed allegiance to no government. We became human beings in some essential meaning of the term, sharing food and living outside the system of monetary exchange. An erotic dimension was created that simply could not be found in normal interaction.[1]

On 3 June 1980, eight thousand police attacked sitting Wendlanders, who had decided to respond with nonviolent, passive resistance. Police cleared the site, and barbed-wire fences were put up. That same day, protests occurred in over 25 cities.[2]

  1. Georgy Katsiaficas, The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life (Oakland: AK Press, 2006), 84.
  2. Katsiaficas, 85.