A Five Year Plan for Geraniums: Growing Flowers Commercially in East Germany 1946-1989

A Five Year Plan for Geraniums: Growing Flowers Commercially in East Germany 1946-1989

by Judith M. Taylor


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The dubious experiment in political economy and social engineering known as socialism, which distorted the functioning of Russia and the Eastern European countries and did horrifying damage to their populations for much of the twentieth century, left its mark on many industries. One industry, which has not received as much attention as other larger ones, is horticulture, with its subsector of floriculture.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Germany was finally divided into two sectors-east and west. By a curious fluke of history, the largest part of German flower production had long been situated in three eastern states, including Erfurt in Thuringia. East Germany inherited this wonderful industry, run by prosperous companies with enlightened owners and a background of constantly developing new and more beautiful plants.

In my two previous books about the work of heroic flower breeders, it turned out that a number of them had ended up behind the Iron Curtain. Their new communist masters abhorred successful private industry and started to dismantle these firms as soon as they could in the name of building a "socialist eden."

The result was tragedy. The leaders of the industry were often arrested, even killed, lost both businesses and the property on which they stood and, if they were lucky enough to escape to West Germany, gave up all their rights. The government collectivized the firms, setting up lumbering organizations to replace them. Prices were set, regardless of basic economic factors. There were no incentives to do a good job.

The Benary family had been leaders in breeding begonias. Wilhelm Elsner was the third generation in his family to head a company that specialized in pelargoniums ("geraniums" to the rest of us). He was locked out of his nursery in Dresden and not permitted to enter it again until after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. See what happened to so many others.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984576187
Publisher: Author Solutions Inc
Publication date: 01/15/2019
Pages: 242
Sales rank: 592,015
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

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