Since October many activists have occupied Dannenröder Forst, a broad-leaved forest located in Assia, in the middle of Germany. The existence of this forest is at risk due to the project of expansion of A49, the highway that already links the industrial plant of Kassel with Neuental and that, according to the project, is planned to continue until Homberg (Ohm), in the center of the Land. If on the one side in the last months police intensified their efforts to evacuate the forest, on the other side mobilisations are increasing too, as part of climate actions organized and leaded by Ende Gelände. On the 12th of December, the day of global actions for the 5 years after Paris Agreement, an other day of protest is planned in Danni. To fully understand this fight, we interviewed an activist that since 2020 is among the main protagonists of the resistance in Danni.
How long have been in the forest taking directly part at the fight against the construction of the A49 highway? Can you tell us about the latest events?
I visited the forest for the 1st time around January 2020, just a few tree houses, a few people in an amazing forest, very peaceful. I kept returning again & again, brought food, building material, clothes...started to stay a couple of days. I was there the first 2 weeks of the eviction, then I had to go home for a couple of days because I wasn't able to enter the forest anymore - it was too painful to see the violence, the destruction of the places I lived in. When I was at home I couldn't concentrate on anything, I constantly was in contact with people in the forest, checked social media, couldn't sleep, couldn't recover so I went back. When I wasn't able to enter the forest, I helped with press work. During the last days the violence of the police completely escalated the situation, but the protest was as strong as ever, people just don't give up. At the weekends hundreds of activists came to the forest to block, to disobey, to build & to give the people in the tree houses a little break, protest marches took place. As the eviction and the cutting of the trees went on without breaks at the weekend, people are just exhausted, traumatized because of the violence and the emotional stress if your home gets destroyed, your friends & yourself get beaten & arrested. Conditions got tougher as we had snow and temperatures below 0°C since last week. Today, Monday, December 7th, the final barrio "Oben" was under attack was once more. Right now, nearly midnight, the last 3 treehouses standing are surrounded by a fence, people in the trees are locked inside without sleeping backs, no protection from rain, snow and cold, police & dogs are on the ground. Supporting people are very concerned about how these activists get through the night...if you get cold & you're freezing, you are tired, you can't safely climb & hold yourself up there in trees...The destruction is unimaginable, it's a total devastation, terrible pictures of dying old trees everywhere, traumatized people, it's heart-breaking. But we are grateful for all the support, the help, solidarity and supporting messages and no matter what, the struggle continues. The highway won't be built!
Tell us about the police eviction: how was it organized? How many activists have been injured?
The eviction was not really organized, the police wasn't experienced with evicting people from treehouses, they acted absolutely dangerously right from the start. Trees were cut next to people in treehouses and other structures, ropes were cut. Activists were really scared for their lives and felt the need to publish drawings and explanations of their structures, they were sending messages to the police begging them to read it, to listen to their screams and to watch out for signs saying "don't cut, human might fall" before cutting anything. Even people living in surrounding villages and visitors who came there on the weekends for protest marches were shocked by the way the police acted and treated activists. People were pulled over the ground instead of carrying them, people got pushed, beaten, pepper spray and water cannons were used. But because of that so many "normal" people supported us, raised their voice and realized why we have a problem with the police. They realized from where the violence comes. The debate about police violence is on fire right now! You probably can't count how many activists got hurt. I think not 1 of us is going to leave this forest without any injury - a physical and/or mental one, all of us are traumatized, many people have bruises, lacerations, at least 2 people had to stay in hospital for a couple of days because of serious back injuries and/or concussions.
Now that even the last treehouses and trees have been evicted and cut down, how are you going to continue the fight? How are you organizing yourself?
At the moment all of us are tired and shocked about what happened within the last days. But people are already coming together to talk and plan how to keep the camp alive over winter. People organize structures to make it possible to stay: tents with heating, rooms in the villages nearby and so on. Some already even think about new treehouses along the route. Fact is, the protest must and will go on so this highway will never be built. There will be blockades and other forms of protest on the construction site. We have 4 more years to make sure there won't ever be any car driving on this highway. Besides protests on the route of the A49 it was just the beginning of the struggle against capitalism in Germany, every highway project will go along with massive protests. We don't need new streets, we don't need more cars, we need a traffic turnaround and we just got started! As we as climate movement came together, fought and still fight coal, we'll fight capitalism.
You have been sending many calls asking to join forces and come to the forest. But due to covid-19 restrictions, how can we still do our part from home?
If you can't come to the forest or to mass actions of civil disobedience you can still support with small and local actions in your city. Talk about Danni (for example), find your own threatened forest in your area and fight for it, drop banners in solidarity, send messages to the activists, show support, donate if you can, share information on your social media accounts, give people a voice and range, follow the social media accounts of Danni, share them, retweet them, be loud. We need "the world" to see and listen and therefore we need everyone even if you can't be around. Every help is welcome and people are grateful for every support!
8th December update: today even the last barrio have been evicted and the last trees cut down.