Negotiating Difference: French and American Cultural Occupation Policies and German Expectations, 1945-1949
The dissertation explores the local implementation of French and American cultural occupation policies in Germany from 1945-1949. It focuses on events in French-occupied Freiburg and American-occupied Stuttgart and relies on materials gathered in local and state German archives as well as the French and American national archives. The dissertation argues that postwar German culture developed not through the unilateral implementation of Allied policies, but rather through negotiations between Allied and German visions. In Freiburg and Stuttgart negotiations over the purpose and character of postwar cultural activities reflected a broader debate over what 1945 meant for the future of German society. To varying degrees, French and American officials viewed the Reich's collapse as an invitation to rebuild Germany along the lines of their own "superior" political and cultural traditions. By contrast, German officials looked to rebuild along native lines and, in the wake of what they described as unwelcome Nazi political and cultural "experiments," greeted Allied reeducation efforts with a combination of frustration and suspicion. Thus, while the Allies shared with their Germans general democratic, capitalist, and Christian values, they struggled to win support for their specific reforms. Combined with conflicts between civilian and military officials and continued personnel reductions, the lingering physical and psychological trauma of war frustrated reeducation efforts and rendered the transfer of Allied culture more difficult than occupation planners had anticipated. Although historical, geographic, and cultural ties between Baden and France helped the French to achieve a greater cultural presence in Freiburg, the situation most owed to the willingness of French officials to impose their agenda on local Germans. In Stuttgart, American concerns over the antidemocratic nature of occupation and an historical American aversion to imperialism stiffened the challenge that broader discrepancies between German and American cultural expectations posed to occupation officials. Thus, after four years of occupation, the most important Allied contribution to the denazification and democratization of both cities came not through the promotion of Allied customs, but rather the victory of Allied armies over the Reich and the cessation of Nazi rule.
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Becker, Helmut and Fritzsche, David J. (1987-12)