Loosing with pride


Buna Werke during GDR




Creative Commons Licence


Created Date

December 9, 2021 - 8:15am

Contributed date

December 9, 2021 - 8:19am

Critical Commentary

The Chemical triangle lies in East Germany, a region still economically disadvantaged through its history as part of the GDR and the events after its collapse. The GDR system was completely dismantled by the Federal Republic of Germany and its uncompetitive industry was sold to western companies for very low prices by the “Treuhand” or completely torn down. This approach to unification led to very high unemployment in the east and to the pressure to take any work you can get or migrate to the economically more successful regions. The workers that were able to continue working in the often hazardous jobs in the chemical plants considered themselves lucky. The privatization process of the industry excluded heavily polluted assets that still have to be managed by the state. The companies that became the legal successor of the GDR “Kombinate” were largely exempted from taking any responsibilities for the toxic legacy that remains till today. Although the federal state has received a lump sum of 1 billion euros to take care of the contaminated sites, this proved to be insufficient to clean up the remaining toxicity. In addition, it soon became clear that some remediation efforts will continue indefinitely, mainly to prevent flooding and further contamination. There is no clear plan on how these measures will be financed by the economically weak federal state.

Still, there seems to be a certain pride among institutions and citizens in the Chemical Triangle in their profession. During the GDR, the slogan “Plaste und Elaste aus Buna” was a famous slogan for the chemical products from the Buna Werke at Schkopau, near Halle. The football Stadium in Halle recently adopted the InfraLeuna company as a sponsor and is now called “Leuna-Chemie-Stadion''. This pride in the importance of the local chemical industry might facilitate turning a blind eye on its disastrous effects on the environment by state agencies.



Cite as

Philip Max Baum, 9 December 2021, "Loosing with pride", contributed by , Disaster STS Network, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 9 December 2021, accessed 30 June 2022. https://disaster-sts-network.org/content/loosing-pride