THE NAZIS CREATED NATURE RESERVES, championed sustainable forestry, curbed air pollution, and designed the autobahn highway network as a way of bringing Germans closer to nature.
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The sound of creaking leather from their collective greatcoats broke the silence as the assembled Wehrmacht officers leaned forward to examine the huge table map of the Spreewald, the vast forest area standing between the XI SS Panzer Corps and the Red Army.
The problem was clear – vast stretches of gorse in the forest (Ulex europeus) were in flower and it was the nesting season of the rare inversely-spotted bark-spitter.
“Well, gentlemen” General Busse announced to his colleagues “there is no way we can attack them through the forest – the damage to the environment would be too great. Our panzer tanks still emit excessive CO2 and the electric hybrid version is still on the drawing-board.”
The other officers grunted in assent. There were those amongst them who could still recall the terrible Battle of the Somme in 1916 – how entire woods were destroyed, how the crash of the shells broke the noise abatement regulations as far away as Camden and how the noxious exhaust from the infernal English tanks caught the back of the men’s throats.
No, that was the carbon footprint to end all carbon footprints. Never again!
“However” the General continued, “I have developed a strategy that I believe you will find is sufficiently eco-friendly. The XI Panzer will move forward by bicycle on the left flank, the SS Mountain Corps will take the right flank using public transport – there is still a regular bus service from Lűbben after 10 o’clock – and we will sent a small diversionary unit through the forest. But I must spell out one important message for them: keep to the paths and no shooting!”