Members of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament visit the nuclear research center under construction in Leopoldshafen near Karlsruhe.
Context and analysis
After attempts to use nuclear energy for military purposes in World War II, civilian use came into focus in the 1950s. It was above all a project desired by politics, as the foundation of the 'Federal Ministry for Atomic Issues' in October 1955 emphasized. Because previously the Federal Republic was prohibited by the Control Council Act from building its own nuclear power plants. The use of nuclear energy has always been discussed in connection with the rearmament, the establishment of the Bundeswehr in November 1955 and its equipping with nuclear weapons; the Americans stationed nuclear artillery pieces in the FRG from 1953. The initiative "Fight against Nuclear Death" protested against this. In the GDR, the National People's Army (NVA) was founded in January 1956, and from 1958 the Soviet Union stored nuclear weapons on the territory of the GDR. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was the first minister to appoint ambitious CSU politician Franz Josef Strauß, who switched to the Ministry of Defense after just one year. His successor from 1956 to 1961 was Siegfried Balke. The new 'nuclear minister' Strauss made a firm commitment to the new technology and demanded that new nuclear power plants deliver the first electricity as early as 1970. The Karlsruhe Research Center, which was founded by Minister Strauß in 1956 as the 'Nuclear Reactor and Operating Company mbH', played an important role, which was later renamed the 'Society for Nuclear Research' and finally the 'Nuclear Research Center Karlsruhe' and worked closely with the University of Karlsruhe. Since 2009 it has been called the neutral Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). When it was founded, 90% of the research center was paid from federal funds and only 10% from the state of Baden-Württemberg. The goal was basic research and the construction of a heavy water reactor for research purposes, which was built just outside of Karlsruhe in Leopoldshafen. This was built from 1957 and operated until 1981. A multi-purpose research reactor was in operation between 1965 and 1984. Finally, a prototype of a breeding reactor was built, which was to test the possibility of reprocessing nuclear fuel rods between 1971 and 1991. This was one of the focal points of the research. An institute for meteorology and climate research was added in the mid-1980s. In 1997, one of the first institutes for nanotechnology was established there in a cooperation between the universities of Karlsruhe and Strasbourg. The district of Karlsruhe's pride in nuclear technology is evident in the fact that an atomic model became part of the coat of arms. It shows an atomic nucleus orbited by two electrons, as the film's first shot shows. The plaque "The district with the atom center" also makes this clear. Within a few months, the district office approved the FR 2 research reactor as a nuclear facility. Starting up to nominal power after almost four years initially failed due to defective core tanks. This delayed the start by another 20 months and meant a setback for the euphoria of atomic technological progress. The film shows a visit by members of the Landtag from Stuttgart to the nuclear research center, which is currently under construction and is not yet as extensively secured as later nuclear facilities. The construction site sign locates the recordings in Leopoldshafen, a former fishing village. The bus pulls up and the deputies get out. The atmosphere seems relaxed and the camera team can even take pictures of the inside of the reactor since it is not yet in operation. The cooling towers are rotated from below with strong black and white contrasts. An employee clamps a control clip on her white coat; this is shown again in close-up. The core area of the reactor looks modern. It can be circled with a crane, which also loads it with fuel rods. The control center with electrical control elements looked futuristic at the time. Everything seems to be under control. Obviously, the image of a modern company that produces electricity in a clean way should be shown. The excursion ends with an evening beer in the light-flooded canteen. The final picture is the view of the reactor from the outside with a few trees in front. The dangers of using nuclear energy only became an issue in the 1970s, when protests against nuclear power plants began. Kay Hoffmann
- This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.