Dannenröder Forest, Germany, 16 November 2020

Utopia against state power. Student Tim Wagner covers the eviction of the Dannenröder Forest.

The “Danni” is a 250-year-old mixed forest in Hesse. It is the drinking water reservoir in the region. And it is a symbol of the outdated traffic policy in Germany: A highway was planned there in the 1970s. Thus, large parts of the forest were cleared at the end of 2020.

Already one year before the clearing, environmental activists occupied the forest. Their goal was to save the forest and, at the same time, to bring about a general turnaround in transportation. They erected dozens of tree house settlements and many barricades on the planned highway route in the forest. These settlements became a place of retreat. But they also became an experimental field for an alternative way of life, and a lived utopia harmonizing with nature.

It was November 2020 when the eviction began. It lasted for five weeks. The action was one of the largest German police operations in recent years. Again and again, there were clashes between the authorities and the activists. In the end, the police cleared all the tree houses, cut down the trees on the route, and arrested many activists. The student Tim Wagner accompanied the actions for several weeks.

November 10, 2020

On the morning of November 10, preparations begin to clear the occupied forest. A long police cordon is drawn up in front of the forest in the fog.

November 25, 2020

Police base and fortress in front of the forest on the future motorway—primarily to protect the construction machines

November 16, 2020

An activist lies on the sawed-off trees of her former home.

November 12, 2020

The activists use tripods and attach themselves to trees with hammocks. In this way, they try to block the path of the logging machines.

November 15, 2020

The insight of a tree house of the main settlement “Morgen” in the forest. Photos of earlier forest occupations and electronics for light and the internet hang on the wall.

November 18, 2020

The police take activists down from the trees with a lifting platform.

November 9, 2020

Activist fetching water in the Dannenröder forest. The groundwater table is so high that in some places the water comes to the surface in springs.

November 16, 2020

To avoid being identifiable in case of arrest, the activists cut their fingertips.

November 26, 2020

Thin trees stand in the mist. Clearing has already taken place in the background.

November 14, 2020

The riot police stand in the fog of a smoke pot in the forest.

November 14, 2020

Up to 2000 forces are on site every day.

November 19, 2020

An excavator demolishes the large tree house “Woanders” at the entrance to the forest.

November 15, 2020

Activists with headlamps sit on a felled oak tree. A person with climbing equipment lies crying in front of the tree stump.

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