1939-1945: Environmental Aspects of the War in Europe

in Review of Central and East European Law
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World War II made it clear that the realization of the potential of existing military technology and methods for using it—along with the extraction of natural resources during the prosecution of the war—constitute a man-made burden for the environment threatening the sustainability of the ecosystems of the combatant countries. The discovery of this danger to the environment was made possible by the implementation of the doctrine of "total destruction" that was conducted under Hitler's direction.The subsequent sixty years have shown, however, that progress in society has been too slow with respect to the subordination of military expediency to environmental sensibility and the adoption of measures toward the ecologization of armed combat. An important strategic resource for resolving the environmental problem of armed conflicts—time—is being lost much more quickly than states are taking steps aimed at the elimination of the threat that was revealed by World War II and that has increased multifold in the six intervening decades.Using historical hindsight, the author proposes his own view of the problem from the perspective of international law.



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