Klaus Traube

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Klaus Traube (born 1928) is a former manager in the German nuclear power industry. Today he is one of its leading opponents. He was the victim of an illegal eavesdropping operation by the BND (the German secret service), because he was falsely suspected of passing on secret information to people sympathizing with terrorism, notably the Red Army Faction.

In 1928, Traube was born in Hanover, the son of a social democrat Jewish dentist. In 1938, his father committed suicide - he could no longer bear the terror of the National Socialists. Because of his Jewish background, Klaus had to leave the school he attended. Towards the end of World War II, at the age of 17, he was briefly put into a labor camp.[1] After the war, despite his bad experiences, Traube stayed in Germany and studied mechanical engineering and romance studies.

Traube started work at the German AEG, where he quickly rose to become director of the department for nuclear power. He then lived abroad for some time (he worked for General Dynamics in San Diego). Traube returned to Germany and became head of Interatom, a component company of the Kraftwerk Union, which was part of the Siemens company. Among other things he was responsible for the development of the German fast breeder project in Kalkar.[2]

Traube was originally a proponent of nuclear power, but the report of the Club of Rome, Limits to Growth, in 1972 made him slowly change his view. As a result, he had contacts with the student movement in Germany, which at that time was slowly becoming more militant. He was also alleged to have contacts with sympathisers of the Red Army Fraction. The BND therefore started to monitor him intensively. He was suspected of passing secret information to people sympathisizing with terrorism. In a covert operation called "Operation Müll" ("operation trash"), the BND in 1975 planted a number of wiretaps in Traube's apartment. They also later informed his employer who, as a result, fired him.[3] This illegal operation was uncovered in 1977 by the newspaper "Der Spiegel" and led to the dismissal of the then minister of the interior Werner Maihofer one year later. Traube was cleared of all charges[4]. The Three Mile Island accident in 1979 finally transformed him into an open opponent of nuclear power[5].

Since then, he has been one of the most prominent and influential critics of nuclear power. Traube does not believe that the operation of nuclear-power plants is economically feasible or that it is possible to overcome the security risks. Also the construction of fast breeders, essential in the long-term use of nuclear power, is in his view too difficult to be realistic[6]. He is a strong supporter of renewable energy. During the 1980s Traube achieved iconic status among Germans opposed to nuclear power. From 1990 to 1997, he was Director of the Institute for Energy-economics and Energy-politics at the University of Bremen[7].

See also