J26. Unsafe East German Nuclear Power

Nuclear power has always been a contentious political issue in Germany. Famously, Germany has taken all its nuclear power plants off grid as of April 2023.

This box of photographs commemorates the completion of construction and initial connection to the electrical grid on December 17, 1973 of East Germany’s largest nuclear power plant, the VEB Kernkraftwerk Bruno Leuschner Greifswald. In 1965 East Germany and the Soviet Union entered into an agreement to construct this plant with Soviet components. At its height, this plant provided 10% of East Germany’s electricity and during the massive snow storm of 1978/79, it was the only plant in East Germany able to operate at full capacity.

Allow us to tell a story. Your cataloguer’s father grew up close to the property that would become this nuclear power plant. The Wall fell in 1989. In the summer of 1990 we went on a family tour of East Germany. This plant had been in the news because Der Spiegel in February 1990 wrote an extensive report on safety concerns at the plant (which had not been publicized during communist rule). My father decided that he wanted to view the much-talked about nuclear power plant near his childhood home. We made it to the main entrance security gate and were promptly questioned by several police officers. Needless to say, we didn’t make it any further. Shortly after our visit, independent inspectors from France and West Germany recommended the closure of the plant.

This commemorative box likely only produced in very small quantities. We were not able to locate another copy.

ZUR ERINNERUNG AN IHREN BESUCH IM VEB KERNKRAFTWERK BRUNO LEUSCHNER GREIFSWALD ANLÄSSLICH DER 1. NETZSCHALTUNG DES BLOCKES 1 AM 17. DEZEMBER 1973. [In Memory of your visit to the state’s nuclear power plant Bruno Leuschner near Greifswald during the 1st electrical grid connection of reactor block 1 on December 17, 1973]. [Lubmin by Greifswald, East Germany]: VEB Kernkraftwerk Bruno Leuschner, 1973. 280 by 220mm (11 by 8¾ inches). Original linen covered commemorative box with 10 original color photographs. Atom logo in gold foil to box cover. Each photo 8 by 10 inches and stamped on verso DEWAG Werbung. Lovely industrial photography of the power plant as it existed in December 1973. Signed title page glued to interior of box and two loose pages of technical data to the power plant. Apparently complete. Very Good but light discoloration to prints and curling of the photo edges. Bumping to box edges.


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