Generation forest occupiers - in the tree house against the climat crisis

A film by Tatjana Mischke and Karin de Miguel-Wessendorf
Im Auftrag des HR
ARTE Re

The Dannenröder Forest is to be cleared for the expansion of the A49. Climate activists from all over Europe are occupying the forest to prevent the clearing. They are supported by villagers and citizens' initiatives who have been fighting against the highway expansion for decades. When thousands of police arrive to clear the forest occupation in November 2020, the conflict comes to a head.

For decades, supporters and opponents have been bitterly arguing about the expansion of the A49. The highway is intended to better connect Kassel and Giessen and is supported by the regional economy. The first plans were drawn up 40 years ago. Environmentalists and residents have been protesting against the highway construction for almost as long. This is because 27 hectares of old, intact mixed forest will have to be cleared for the route and a water conservation area will have to be built over.

For more than a year, over 300 young climate activists have occupied the Dannenröder Forest. They camp in tree house villages and tent camps to stand in the way of the logging machinery. They not only want to protect the forest. They are also demanding a traffic concept that is compatible with the climate goals of Paris. Joschik, 25, used to study politics. Now she lives in a self-made tree house 20 meters above the ground. She hangs out here in summer and winter. Joschik knows that she is breaking laws. But she is also prepared to go to jail to fight to achieve the climate targets.

Barbara Schlemmer lives in the neighboring town of Homberg (Ohm). The former teacher is the spokesperson for the action alliance against the construction of the A 49 highway. Together with many other local residents, she supports the forest squatters and organizes a protest walk through the Dannenröder Forest every Sunday.

The conflict escalates with the start of the clearing work in November 2020. 2000 police officers from all over Germany are deployed to clear the protest camps. Violent clashes, arrests and injuries ensue.

The non-violent resistance in lofty heights poses special challenges for the police, reports the police operations section chief. The officers succeed in bringing down more than 100 activists from the treetops. In the process, crashes with life-threatening injuries also happen. Immediately after the clearance, the tree-cutting machines move in and clear the forest.

Joschik is one of the last to hold out up in her tree house.

Re: accompanies the forest squatters and their supporters, but also the police and parliamentary observers during the four weeks of eviction.

Editing: Dirk Hergenhahn
Camera: Frank Kranstedt, Jennifer Günther, Dieter Stürmer, Roland Possler
Editing: Sabine Mieder (HR)

TV-Premiere:
02.02. 2021 at 19.40, ARTE

Other broadcasts:
07.Februar 2021, 18:30 Uhr, HR
18. Februar 2021, 21:45 Uhr, HR

Available in streaming from the following providers:
Auf dem Youtube-Kanal des hr-fernsehen verfügbar
oder in der 3Sat Mediathek.