Dear friends and colleagues:
Historical anniversaries present professional historians with an ambivalent challenge. On the one hand, their newsworthiness generates considerable interest in the media and general public; on the other, they tend to distract from important issues of historical continuity while removing events from their wider contexts. Moreover, once the festivities are over, once the journalists have moved on, and once the larger audience has begun to focus on the next noteworthy date, specialists are faced with "issue fatigue" and a sharp decline in concern for their particular topic. Although the GHI is aware of the potential follies inherent in this culture of commemoration, we nevertheless welcome the year 1999 as an opportunity to highlight research relevant to the anniversaries of three highly significant events: The creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the two German states, and the fall of the Berlin Wall only ten years ago.
Accordingly, the Institute decided to devote a considerable portion of its scholarly activities to the post-World War II era and the associated anniversaries. In October 1998 we revisited early postwar German (and European) history with an international conference on "Violence and Normality: Approaches to a Cultural and Social History of Europe During the 1940s and 1950s," organized by Richard Bessel (York University), Martin H. Geyer (University of Munich), and Dirk Schumann (University of Bielefeld). At the Annual Meeting of the German Studies Association, also in October, the GHI organized two panels, one on Ostpolitik and one on German prisoners of war in the American Zone of Occupation. In November Anselm Doering-Manteuffel (University of Tübingen) delivered the 1998 Annual Lecture on "The Turn Toward the Atlantic: The Federal Republic's Ideological Reorientation, 1945-1970." The Seventh Annual Symposium of the Friends of the GHI offered an opportunity for Philipp Gassert and Raimund Lammersdorf (both GHI) to present their projects on West German political culture and for Timothy R. Vogt (University of California at Davis), one of the recipients of the Friends' dissertation prize, to discuss his study of denazification in the Soviet Zone of Occupation. In December David E. Barclay (Kalamazoo College) presented his work-in-progress on former West Berlin Mayor Ernst Reuter within the context of the 1999 Fall Lecture Series on "History and Biography."
Nineteen ninety-nine continued this exploration of the postwar past. The Spring Lecture Series is devoted to the histories of the two Germanies since 1949. In March a GHI conference convened by Volker Berghahn (Columbia University), Anselm Doering-Manteuffel, and Christof Mauch (GHI) examined the issue of "The American Impact on Western Europe: Americanization and Westernization in Transatlantic Perspective." We will continue this program on postwar history in June with a workshop on U.S. foreign policy toward Germany during the 1960s, which will bring together former American decision makers and members of the Institute who are researching the transformation of the German-American relationship during the Erhard and Kiesinger years. Furthermore, on October 28-29, the Institute, in cooperation with the AICGS and the German embassy, will hold a symposium titled "Germany, Europe, and the United States, 1989-1999." Our program celebrating fifty years of postwar German history will close with this year's Annual Lecture. On November 18, Mary Fulbrook (University College London) will lecture on recent controversies over historical interpretations of the German dictatorships in the twentieth century.
We hope that you find our program attractive and stimulating in this year of many anniversaries. We look forward to seeing you in the near future at one of the Institute's functions.
"America's War and the World: Vietnam in International and Comparative Perspectives."
Conference at the GHI, November 19-22, 1998. Conveners: Lloyd C. Gardner (Rutgers University), Andreas W. Daum (GHI), and Wilfried Mausbach (GHI).
Coming almost twenty-five years after the end of the Vietnam War, this conference sought to place "America's War" in international and comparative perspectives. The meeting aimed to reassess the place of the Vietnam War in the history of modern state and societal conflicts. The participants selected new reference points for the conflict, either contemporaneous or historical. In particular, the goal of the conference was to go beyond the war experiences of the combatants. This approach entailed viewing the repercussions of the Vietnam War in non-American and non-Vietnamese regional settings and discourses. Simultaneously, the conference scrutinized historical analogies, thus transcending conventional periodization. According to these precepts, the war in Vietnam becomes an even more complex object of inquiry that assumes multiple new meanings in diverse cultures and regions across the Atlantic and Pacific worlds.
The leitmotif of diversity permeated the keynote speech by Lloyd C. Gardner. He described how the United States has, since the 1960s, lacked a coherent understanding of the Vietnam War. In spite of later attempts to recreate an overall narrative, "America's War" could never serve as an "epic tale" for Americans. Ambiguous interpretations of this war, its legitimacy and projected aims, were not only upheld by American soldiers and contemporary critics but also persisted after 1973/1975. In examining the connections between personal experiences and public discourses, Gardner focused on the discussions between veterans and historians regarding the New Jersey Vietnam Memorial exhibition; this discussion eventually led to the conclusion that the acceptance of a plurality of interpretations provides the only common ground. Gardner argued that the war in fact represents "many wars" that must be contextualized within Vietnam's "thirty years' war" of decolonization.
The first day of the conference began with two panels that compared the Vietnam War with other conflicts between "centers of power" and "peripheral states" in modern history. The introductory panel, chaired by Michael P. Adas (Rutgers University), concentrated on the history of the twentieth century. John Prados (Takoma Park, Md.) compared the American military strategy in Vietnam with the Japanese intervention in China between 1937 and 1945. Prados not only observed substantial similarities in warfare, such as the combination of conventional and counterguerilla operations, but he also found striking analogies in the ways in which the United States and Japan miscalculated the risks of peripheral wars. In both cases such wars were conducted without sufficient national consensus, lacked a precise policy of war aims, and undermined key national security interests. Jeffrey Kimball (Miami University) added an important aspect by looking at historical patterns of war termination. He used the cases of the Korean War, the 1973 Paris peace talks, and the recent Balkan wars to develop a typology of war endings, namely, by decisive victory, by imposed peace, or by negotiation. Kimball explained how the war settlements for Vietnam in 1954, 1973, and 1975 embodied all these ideal types.
Chaired by Ronald Steel (University of Southern California), the second panel extended the comparisons backward into the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries. Fabian Hilfrich (Free University of Berlin) talked about American "Visions of Asian Periphery: Vietnam (1964-1968) and the Philippines (1898-1900)." According to Hilfrich, both cases reveal that the arguments of American interventionists as well as anti-imperialists were heavily imbued with discursive constructions of a periphery that helped to either legitimize or criticize foreign policy. These discursive constructions drew on enduring traditions of American thinking, such as the frontier myth and certain patterns of racist ideology. At the same time, they allowed the incorporation of new political ideas, such as the domino-theory and the pleas for strengthening American credibility in the Third World. Hilfrich argued that the concept of periphery was internalized in American discourses to such an extent that it could prescribe political decisions and turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. T. Christopher Jespersen (Clark Atlanta University) took up the idea of a long-term comparison but applied it to two different central powers. He delineated similarities between the British reaction to the foundation of the United States in the 1770s and 1780s and the American response to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam after 1975. Although the American Revolution and the establishment of a unified Vietnam were two very different processes, both incidents raised comparable challenges for Great Britain and the United States, respectively. In both cases the major powers sought to curb the ambitions of the revolutionary movements and rely on indigenous elements for support. Both powers eventually failed when they attempted to reach a military solutionthe Battle of Saratoga and the Tet offensive representing the crucial turning points. After these failures Great Britain and the United States tried to contain the new national states by means of supporting competing regional powers and confining the newcomers' economic opportunities. However, these policies could not prevent the major powers from suffering serious internal crises once these peripheral conflicts reverberated at home.
The afternoon sessions were devoted to the multilateral and systemic dimensions of the Vietnam War. Gardner chaired the first panel, which concentrated on the economic and financial structures of the international system between 1960 and 1975 and on the impact that the U.S. preoccupation with Southeast Asia had on the world economy. Ilkka Lakaniemi (University of Helsinki) brought an economist's perspective; he embedded the American engagement in Vietnam in the post-World War II processes of economic globalization. In Lakaniemi's view, globalization challenged the American leadership in the international community, particularly because Japan was gaining economic importance in Asia. By the mid-1960s U.S. allies in Europe increasingly questioned American involvement in Southeast Asia, whereas the United States became suspicious about the economic and political motives of West European regionalism. Hubert Zimmermann (Institute for Contemporary History, Bonn office) took a closer look at the impact of the Vietnam War on the international monetary system between 1966 and 1975, when Vietnam became the central argument for European critics of American monetary policy. Zimmermann placed special emphasis on the role of Germany as a key player in this debate. In the early 1960s the German government agreed to offset the expenditures of American soldiers stationed in Germany by purchasing U.S. weapons, thereby easing the American balance-of-payments deficit. Soon, inherent budgetary problems and saturated Bundeswehr arsenals resulted in lagging German orders. This led to a deep crisis with the United States, which, in the face of the mounting costs of the Vietnam War, was not inclined to compromise on German payments. Eventually the German Bundesbank agreed to relieve the U.S. balance-of-payments problem using financial mechanisms and to uphold the international monetary system by not converting dollars into gold, only to have the Nixon administration unilaterally suspend the dollar-gold standard and impose a "Vietnam tax" on imports in 1971. In the end the Vietnam War not only contributed to the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system but also convinced Europeans of the necessity for a more independent European monetary policy.
Under the moderation of Robert Schulzinger (University of Colorado at Boulder) the following panel shifted the focus to the political aspects of the Vietnam War on an international scale. Fredrik Logevall (University of California at Santa Barbara) analyzed America's relationships with its main Western allies during the mid-1960s. He reminded the conference that American isolation regarding Vietnam and the absence of international support for a larger war are still underexamined. In particular, Logevall shed light on the ambiguous positions of Britain and West Germany, which harbored major reservations without conveying them to Washington. Even France, America's only outspoken critic in Europe, did not press the matter with U.S. officials. In addition, all major Asian allies except Australia held to a lukewarm position, so that President Lyndon B. Johnson could claim rhetorical support and maintain the façade of anticommunist unity; politically, however, he failed with his "More Flags" campaign. That the Vietnam War also reflected and even provoked clashes among communist countries was shown by Eva-Maria Stolberg (University of Bonn). Her paper delineated the changing history of Sino-Soviet differences since 1949 regarding approaches to Vietnam and the Vietnamese search for unity. Mao Zedong's concept of "people's warfare" often stood in sharp contrast to the Soviet drive for "peaceful coexistence." In terms of concrete military support, the leaders of both countries primarily followed pragmatic reasoning and tried to draw the Vietnamese government to their side, especially after 1965 when Sino-Soviet relations rapidly deteriorated.
The second day of the conference was just as busy as the first, this time with papers on the meaning of the Vietnam War for domestic politics, bilateral relations, and the culture of the 1960s. Nancy Bernkopf Tucker (Georgetown University) chaired the first panel, which highlighted the Asian Pacific theater. Peter Edwards (Australian War Memorial, Canberra) investigated the nearly unique Australian support for America's war in Vietnam in comparison to the Western European allies. All three Australian armed services and altogether 50,000 soldiers were involved in the war. Moreover, until Australia's new labor government attained power in 1972, the official policy was highly committed to advocating an American military presence in Southeast Asia. The Australian government largely accepted the domino theory but faced complications when regional conflicts caught the country between its major allies, as the history of the Malaysian "Emergency" (1948-60) and the Indonesian-Malaysian "Confrontation" (1963) demonstrated. The importance of regional powers was underlined by Arne Kislenko (University of Toronto), who dealt with the ambivalent role of Thailand as an American ally during the Vietnamese conflict. Undoubtedly, the close American-Thai relationship was based on firm security interestsfor the Thai government, the American involvement in Asia protected it against an old enemy, China; for Washington, cooperation allowed it to stabilize Thailand and establish a strong barrier against communist influence from Laos. Despite mutual interests, however, indigenous cultural traditions nourished concerns on the Thai side about the American presence that eventually led the Thai government to distance itself from Washington, thus continuing that country's tradition of a flexible foreign policy in pursuing its national interests.
The second panel, chaired by Andreas Daum, sought the perspective of midsize European countries. The paper by Leopoldo Nuti (Universita' degli Studi Roma Tre, Rome) located the Italian attitudes toward the Vietnam War within Italy's domestic history after 1945. In particular, the long-standing but ultimately unsuccessful attempts by Italy to find an "opening to the left," including the Socialist Party, always faced the question of loyalty toward the United States. Between 1965 and 1968 the new center-left government endorsed efforts to reach an agreement between Washington and Hanoi by secret negotiations, the two most spectacular of which were Operation Marigold, via a Polish channel, and the Killy talks, via Rumanian channels. In the 1968 elections, however, the Socialists were defeated; in the Italian public, concerns about the Vietnam War increasingly turned into massive criticism of the United States. James G. Hershberg (George Washington University) took up the theme of Operation Marigold, which involved the Italian ambassador in Saigon, Giovanni d'Orlandi, his American colleague, Henry Cabot Lodge, and the Polish representative to the International Control Commission, Janusc Lewandowski. Hershberg related detailed information about newly discovered source material, particularly from the Polish side, which includes a formerly secret memorandum from one of the key Polish Foreign Ministry operatives, Jerzy Michalowski.
With Terry H. Anderson (Texas A&M University) as the chairperson, the last panel of the second day focused on the various forms and meanings of antiwar protest during the 1960s. Günter Wernicke (Humboldt University of Berlin) focused on the World Peace Council (WPC) and the antiwar movement in East Germany. He emphasized the internal struggles in the WPC over ideological issues and the amount of support for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, struggles that often followed the lines of the Sino-Soviet conflict. Although the East German committees for solidarity with Vietnam clearly bear a governmental imprint, they were not only instruments of propaganda but also developed their own humanitarian agendas. Wilfried Mausbach examined the West German antiwar movement on two levels. He sketched the increasing radicalization of anti-Vietnam War protest, which culminated in 1967-68 in diverse student actions in Berlin and led to a transition from ideas of protest to concepts of resistance. Moreover, Mausbach demonstrated how the antiwar protest referred to the German past and evolved into a discourse on the lessons to be drawn from the atrocities of the Holocaust and the Nazi regime. The Vietnam War thus became a symbolic weapon in Germany's own memory warsprotesters reversed the analogy between the defense of Berlin and that of Saigon as parts of the same Cold War narrative that the Johnson administration was eager to uphold; they began to view Vietnam as a new Auschwitz. Finally, Barbara Tischler (Columbia University) embarked on a reassessment of relations between antiwar activism and feminism during the late 1960s in Western countries. Tischler stressed that there was no simple shift from one movement to the other. Instead, a difficult process of feminist self-organization unfolded by which antiwar protest served as a catalyst and provided experience for women. Parts of the New Left failed to comprehend the value of women's contributions; often women had to choose between continuing protest alliances with men and the need to put feminist concerns on the political agenda.
The final day of the conference witnessed intense debates, starting with two papers that focused on strategies of memorializing war in the twentieth century. Chaired by Marilyn B. Young (New York University), this session dealt with the remembrance of the Vietnam War in contemporary Vietnamese film. Since the mid-1980s, as Mark Bradley (University of Chicago) described, the official narrative of the Vietnam War as patriotic self-sacrifice has been challenged by revisionist filmmakers. These used new artistic freedoms to claim the primacy of individual war experiences, emphasizing that family and village rather than the state were and still are the main places to negotiate the meanings of the war and to preserve the memory of fallen soldiers. Sabine Behrenbeck (University of Cologne) compared the ways in which German society after 1918 and American society after the end of the Vietnam conflict came to terms with the legacies of war. Behrenbeck used the case of war memorials in both countries to study the integration of military defeat into the collective memory of a traumatized nation. Whereas a wide variety of memorials were erected in local communities throughout Germany immediately after World War I, there was little sculptural commemoration of the Vietnam War dead in the United States until the 1982 Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall created a model for numerous state and local monuments. Although the idea of a national monument had also gained currency in Germany in 1924, authorities were unable to form a consensus on the more than 200 proposals submitted, and they eventually decided to build three monuments instead of one. Behrenbeck pointed out some striking similiarities between one of these memorials, the "Neue Wache" in Berlin, and Maya Lin's design for the memorial in Washington, D.C. However, whereas the latter succeeded in visualizing the conflicts of public memory in the United States, such conflicts proved too irreconcilable during the Weimar Republic, and in the 1930s Germany eventually witnessed a revival of the heroic narrative.
Before the final round of discussion on Sunday morning, which was chaired by Michael H. Hunt (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), George C. Herring (University of Kentucky) supplied a wide-ranging summary. He articulated some of the general questions that must be addressed when putting the Vietnam War in international and comparative perspectives. Herring emphasized that the Vietnam War was a truly international war, representing a culmination of "many different wars of many different types." The dynamics of alliance diplomacy deserve special attention in examining this plurality, as do the forms of war memory down to the local level, the question of the decisive turning point of the war, the integration of non-European and non-American areas, and the need to develop broader analytical categories and useful generalizations. All of the issues that the individual papers studied resounded strongly in the final discussion. Hunt, for example, challenged historians to formulate new questions on how and when the Vietnam War started and how it ended, given that today's assessments offer new and diverse interpretations. He also reminded the group of the gap between public history and academic historiography and asked the participants to reflect on the specific role of historians in influencing our understanding of the Vietnam War. Adas even went so far as to ask for a complete reconfiguration of the conflict in light of global categories, such as the world history of interventions, integrating economic and gender contexts.
The conference illustrated the need to study more carefully the place of the Vietnam War in long-term processes such as modernization and the rise of the national state. Several participants stressed the necessity of integrating largely unknown experiences of the war into a new assessment, above all, the perspective of the former South Vietnam. Strangely enough, the history of the Vietnam War, as Herring put it, has been written mainly by people on the losing side. Other participants underlined the necessity to devote more attention to sources from Eastern Europe and the the former Soviet Union, and to elaborate more on the Cold War context. New forms of contextualization would also question our understanding of the categories central and peripheral in dealing with conflicts between states that are far apart geographically and very different in size.
Bringing together innovative approaches and perspectives such as these, the conference represented a diverse body of knowledge and helped to cross disciplinary borders in order to find new ways of thinking about the Vietnam War.
Andreas W. Daum
"A Search for Genius in Weimar Germany: The Abraham Lincoln Stiftung and American Philanthropy."
Workshop at the GHI, January 19, 1999. Convener: Philipp Gassert (GHI).
Malcolm Richardson (National Endowment for the Humanities) presented a paper on the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung (ALS), a German foundation financed by the American Rockefeller Foundation. Based on new archival findings, he drew an impressive picture of its short history between 1927 and 1934, revealing a hitherto forgotten part of German-American cultural relations during the Weimar Republic. As Richardson showed, the ALS aimed at educational reform and the democratization of the ill-fated Weimar Republic by promoting young German artists, educators, and writers to become future political and intellectual leaders.
The origin of the ALS was part and parcel of the politics of Rockefeller philanthropists to aid the cause of international reconciliation in the wake of World War I. International understanding, according to the Rockefeller Foundation, was based on an educational system that abandoned national prejudices and sentiments. Not surprisingly, it was liberal educators, scientists, and intellectuals who were recruited by the ALS in Germany to select grant recipients. Independence from governmental interference seemed to guarantee the success of this visionary experiment, which aimed to introduce a private initiative into the statist and highly centralized German educational system.
Richardson was able to trace the names of the circa 60 grant recipients and 133 unsuccessful candidates whom the directors of the ALS had considered. Most of them were involved in educational projects, in the movement for international reconciliation, and in the youth movement. Several recipients joined the resistance to the new regime after 1933. The ambitious goal to reform the German educational system did not become reality because of 1) the changed political conditions, 2) the reorganization of the Rockefeller Foundation itself, and 3) financial difficultiescircumstances that the ALS did not master. Nevertheless, according to Richardson, the ALS did not fail. In tracing the careers of the grantees he stated that the ALS succeeded in recruiting a wide cross-section of Germany's intellectual elite to serve as advisers, nominators, and trustees, and that the selected recipients represented some of the most promising young scholars, political leaders, and educational reformers. Among those who left Germany or survived the Nazi terror, several played important roles in the postwar restoration of German universities and intellectual life.
The lecture was followed by two comments. Eckhardt Fuchs (GHI) suggested several approaches to embedding the history of the ALS in a broader historical context. In particular, he integrated the ALS into a continuous process of German-American academic cooperation since the beginning of the century that, although interrupted by war and Germany's isolation, never ceased to exist. He also pointed out major shifts that occurred in mutual cooperation during this time. Jochen Kirchhoff (Munich Center for the History of Science and Technology, and German-American Center for Visiting Scholars) introduced the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foundation and its program for the promotion of social sciences as another example of American philanthropy and cultural engagement in Germany since the mid-1920s. Both commentators agreed that only further investigation could help us answer the question of whether the ALS succeeded in spreading democratic values among German youth and young intellectuals.
All three contributors provoked a lively discussion directed by the chair of the workshop, Frank Trommer (University of Pennsylvania). The twenty participants not only took up many of the questions raised by the speakers but also suggested ideas for the broader account that Richardson intends to publish in the future.
Second Atlantik-Brücke/Deutsche Welle Media Conference: "The Fourth Power: Media and Democracy in a World of Concentration and Fragmentation."
Organized by Atlantik-Brücke and Deutsche Welle, hosted by the GHI, and supported by a grant from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, January 28-30, 1999. Speakers and commentators: Elizabeth Becker (editor, New York Times), Ralph Begleiter (world affairs correspondent, CNN), Marc Fisher (correspondent, Washington Post), Robert Giles (senior vice president, Freedom Forum), Jacob Heilbrunn (associate editor, New Republic), Detlef Junker (director, GHI), Walther Leisler Kiep (chairman, Atlantik-Brücke), Claus-Detlev Kleber (Washington bureau chief, ARD), Michael Mertes (journalist, Rheinischer Merkur), Ralph Nader (consumer advocate), Daniel Schorr (senior news analyst, National Public Radio), Dieter Weirich (director general, Deutsche Welle), Leo Wieland (U.S. correspondent, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).
In January 1999 a distinguished group of more than forty-five journalists, businesspeople, and scholars met at the historic Woodbury Blair Mansionhome to the GHIfor two days of discussions on media and democracy in a world that is becoming increasingly fragmented. Participants specifically concentrated on the quality of news reporting in both Germany and the United States. What follows is a report on the conference by Gebhardt Schweigler, currently a research associate at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Ebenhausen (Germany).
Journalists like it short. "News rules," they claimat least in the quality newspapers. Elsewhere, different rules prevail: "If it bleeds, it leads." Or worse: "If it thinks, it stinks." Participants in the second media conference jointly organized by Atlantik-Brücke (Bonn) and Deutsche Welle (Cologne) and hosted by the GHI had ample opportunity to reflect on the quality of news reporting in the American and German media. Because most of the participants were journalists from the United States and Germany, their reflections amounted to a highly interesting mixture of self-criticism, exculpatory defense, and probing cross-national comparison. Challenged by such outside observers as Ralph Nader, who presented the strongest arguments in favor of the conference's underlying proposition that a responsible media, supported by "civic literacy" on the part of its consumers, forms the backbone of a functioning democracy, the participants engaged in a lively debate about their own role as members of the "Fourth Estate."
The world of the media has, of course, changed drastically over the past decades. For one, it has become ever more fragmented. Newspapers saw the advent of competition by radio, which was soon supplanted by television. Television itself at first encompassed only a few national networks that provided almost all the nation's news and entertainment. With the growth of cable and direct satellite systems came the appearance of an increasingly large number of channels. Whereas the contemporary American television watcher may have access to as many as 150 different programs, that number may soon reach 500 and could, before too long, go as high as 1,500. (At that point, just checking the program listings may take longer than watching any single program.) As the world of the media shrinks to that long-predicted "global village"now embodied by the Internet, with its seemingly limitless multimedia capabilitiesinformation fragmentation will be immense, and so will be the competition for attention and thus market shares. As critics see it, the global village could turn out to be a place where the lowest common denominator rules and where villagers would rather entertain themselves watching staged wrestling matches than inform themselves with serious news reporting.
A great deal of money is to be made in the media. Thus, it comes as no surprise that a fragmented media world results in a process of concentration, where individual pieces are increasingly incorporated into the hands of a few global players. Such corporations or even individuals who exercise control over media empires with global reach could destabilize democratic governance if they become too powerful, too restrictive, or too much oriented toward the bottom line. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this could indeed be the case, from books that were not published (because of Chinese concerns, for instance) to TV programs that were not aired (because of unrelated cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court). A more systematic criticism claims that because of corporate concentration everywhere, but especially in the media, genuine public concerns as opposed to sex and crimeno longer find adequate treatment. With governmental agencies having abandoned most efforts at regulating the media in the public interest, the mediaso this line of criticism argueshave fallen into the pit of banality, presenting a landscape of devastating sameness and cynicism.
There was no general agreement, though, that such criticism is justified and that media concentration has necessarily led to corruption in the name of profit. It takes a powerful news organization to stand up to a powerful government. This may more easily be the case for large, family-owned newspapers such as the New York Times (with the Pentagon Papers, for instance) and the Washington Post (with its Watergate reporting, among others, which are still doing well financially) than for faceless corporations. But even big corporations and super-wealthy media tycoons also can play a constructive role because only they are financially capable of launching new enterprises such as CNN or USA Today (or give away a billion dollars to the United Nations). The development of the Internet as a medium where information is widelyand globallyavailable would not have been possible without the deep pockets of major media organizations.
Unlike the American media landscape, where public television and radio have been reduced to serving the increasingly narrow niche of elite interests (as some participants argued), the German media continues to be influenced by public radio and television. Here, the electronic media were once concentrated in state hands. As a result of this state monopoly, the electronic media in Germany became less creative and thus lost their competitive edge (in contrast to the print media, where publishing entrepreneurs proved to be highly innovative and so successful that they are now becoming major players in the electronic media as well). For some American observers the heavy political hand in radio and television to this day constitutes an ethical blight, evident in the insidious incestuousness of the German journalism community. The German participants, although acknowledging that some criticism regarding the role of politics in the media might be justified, claimed that these problems were never as serious as alleged (not least because of regional rather than national regulatory systems) and, due to deregulation and increasing competition from private electronic media, quickly waning. The relationship between journalism and politics in Germany may not yet have reached the level of antagonism evident in the United States (described as an American problem by some participants), but it is becoming increasingly adversarial in nature. At the same time, the traditional respect accorded by the German media to the privacy of public figures, but especially to political leaders, is gradually breaking down as tabloid papers and sensationalist television magazine programs and talk shows fight for audiences. In short, then, political and state control of the media by and large no longer is an issue in Germany. Much more problematic, according to some inside observers, is the role played by works councils and trade unions, which tend to hamper creativity and competitiveness in the name of protecting workers' rights and privileges.
The media will always be under some control, be it naturalthat is, market forcesor supernatural, that is, government regulation. Representatives of major quality newspapers in Germany and the United States agreed that under conditions of increasing fragmentation, market forces tend to be favorable for them. There is a comparatively large market for high-quality reporting and analysis. In that sense, good newspapers remain good business. The market reach of quality newspapers is increasing as modern technologies allow not only larger distributions of print editions but also a worldwide readership via the Internet. Putting newspapers on the Internet has not led to a decrease in the number of subscribers, as was feared initially. Rather, the diversification of the readership has contributed to broader interest and to better newspapers. With the help of an accurate reading of World Wide Web hits and interactive editions, newspapers are in a better position to track reader interests. Partly as a result of this technological development, quality newspapers have added new or enlarged traditional sections (such as lifestyle, arts, travel, and automobile sections). They have also, in a manner of speaking, reverted to older forms of publishing by constantly putting updated editions on their Web sites. No wonder, then, that the quality newspapers have increased their staffs and created new bureaus in other countries. Quality sells. And quality newspapers sell their reporting and analyses to local newspapers that no longer attempt national or international coverage on their own.
In a way, this also is true for the electronic media. CNN, as a major player in international news gathering and reporting, finds that it is increasingly selling its products to other networks that have more-or-less left the news-gathering business. Some observers decried the uniformity of reporting thus created; thoughtful journalism, they argued, is on the way out. Others pointed to CNN's competition in the form of such major international players as BBC and Deutsche Welle, which provide additional sources of information. In fact, news reporting (as well as cultural programming in general) is becoming increasingly regionalized because the primary players are in search of ever more niches to exploit. Narrowcasting is turning into a profitable enterprise for the broadcasting industry. In part, these efforts are based on the realization that not everything one society can stomach will be easily digested in another society.
The most extreme form of media fragmentation in a globalized world is the Internet. Participants were sharply divided over its effects on the media world. It may be (as advertisers claim) child's play to tap into the Internet, but there is nothing like a child's innocence about the Net and its content. To some it is not much more than a means for spreading rumors worldwide, driving serious news reporting into frenzied efforts to catch up. The Lewinsky Affair was cited as a prime example of this trend. Others pointed to the fact that a good deal of what at first were merely rumors turned out to be correct. Mainstream news reporting in this instance was driven not so much by unsubstantiated rumors on the Internet as by the fact that when two branches of government are locked in an all-out war, it is a prime duty of the Fourth Estate to cover such a war. German participants pointed out that, although the Lewinsky Affair received extensive coverage in the German media, there was no spillover into German politics (in the form of questioning German political leaders about their private lives).
President Clinton's private and political troubles sparked a broader discussion about journalism's responsibilities. Some claimed that the Lewinsky Affair, presented (and perceived) mostly as entertainment, not as reality, distracted public attention from more pressing issues. (Growing income gaps, the loss of democratic control due to international agreements, and the pernicious reach of corporate interests were mentioned as examples.) Because the media set yardsticks and shape public perceptions, it should be their responsibility to cover such problems fairly and in-depth. Some participants rejected this premise. The only responsibility of a competent journalist is to find and tell a good story, not to pursue the right cause. At best, they should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. In that sense the task of a journalist is precisely to be irresponsible. It follows from this line of reasoning that journalists should not be part of the establishment. Where journalists become too clubby, whoring themselves as opinion-spewing pundits, journalistic responsibility suffers greatly.
This claim to responsible irresponsibility may reflect heroic self-images of the past, perpetuated by any number of Hollywood movies. In today's world of journalism, reporters and analysts are more clubby simply because most of them went to the same schools as the people they cover. They also received the same professional training. Conference participants, especially on the American side, were sharply divided as to whether these developments make for better or worse journalism. Some argued that today's journalists no longer know how to research and write. In addition, they yield too easily to the temptation of "gotcha" journalism, where their main interest is getting someone out of office, partly because that is considered a career-advancing achievement and partly because (due to the clubbiness of a common background) they feel they are better than the person they are attacking. But others argued that such a picture of journalistic incompetence and irresponsibility is overdrawn. By and large, today's journalists are as good or as bad as their predecessors, operating, as it were, in a different cultural and technological environment. Specifically with regard to foreign reporting, there was broad agreement that responsible journalism requires reporting on location. "Where you stand depends on where you sit" is even truer for a foreign correspondent than for a bureaucratic infighter. Because foreign reporting and analysis is increasingly being ceded to fewer and fewer radio and television organizations and high-quality newspapers, this increases their responsibilities (at the same time that it increases their stature and their profitability). Some participants expressed the concern that the luxury of maintaining foreign bureaus is increasingly becoming a privilege of rich countries. A responsible approach to news reporting in a globalized world also ought to take that problem into account.
Just how much information is required for democratic societies to be able to function properly? In the end, the conference wrestled with this question without coming to definitive conclusions. The problems created by processes of media concentrationfrom the narrowing of the information base to the dumbing down of news reporting and analysessuggest that democracies (already) may be in trouble. Conversely, the processes of media fragmentationwith ever more information being available on ever more channels and Web sites raise the specter of information overload. Quality newspapers and highly respected news anchors used to serve as gatekeepers for information flows. Now these traditional gatekeepers are being overwhelmed and marginalized while new gatekeepers are only slowly emerging (or being overly commercialized, such as in the Internet wars over portal positions). As a result, some observers have witnessed a process whereby news reporting becomes worse the more democratic (that is, open to unhindered information exchange) a society tries to become. At some point such societies may then risk losing their democratic freedoms.
Some participants protested strongly: The discussion had become too esoteric. Democracy was not in any danger as a result of too much information flowing through too many unfiltered channels. Democratic societies, it was argued, have always been able to cope with plenty. They will similarly be able to deal with a world of plentiful information. On the German side a plea was made for deliberate efforts at instilling media competence among citizens. The American side expressed its traditional belief in market forces as a prime mover in furthering information literacy. Both sides agreed that it is likely that societies will be structured into the media literate and illiterate. American society, with its long tradition of mass media, will be hit harder by such societal transformations than German society, with its long-standing patterns of separate high and low news cultures. But difficult though the transitions may be, in the end democracies should prevail, if not indeed emerge stronger and more resilient.
"The American Impact on Western Europe: Americanization and Westernization in Transatlantic Perspective."
Conference at the GHI, March 25-27, 1999. Conveners: Volker Berghahn (Columbia University), Anselm Doering-Manteuffel (University of Tübingen), and Christof Mauch (GHI). Co-sponsored by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.
Over the past few years the American presence in postwar Europe and the American impact particularly on Germany have been the subjects of numerous books and articles. This conference aimed, first, to take stock and see where recent research of scholars from both sides of the Atlantic has taken us and where future research might be going; and second, to discuss the analytical utility of different concepts and terms that have been proposed to describe the introduction and assimilation into Germany of American or Western ideas, practices, and behavioral patterns. More than forty historians and social scientists from Canada, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the United States gathered to explore the relevant empirical and methodological issues.
Following welcoming remarks by Detlef Junker (GHI) and an opening statement by Volker Berghahn, Rob Kroes (Amsterdam) gave the keynote speech on "American Empire and Cultural Imperialism: A View From the Receiving End." Kroes emphasized that America in the "American Century" had become the hub of worldwide communicationmuch like Rome in the days of the Roman Empireand that its reach was truly global. Kroes focused on the reception of information coming out of this communication system, and he argued that "Americanization" should be seen as the story of an American cultural language that is being acquired in disjointed bits and pieces and then rearranged according to people's specific identities. Using the case of advertising, Kroes demonstrated how American icons have been commodified and how mythical "Americas" have become part of the collective memory of people around the globe.
The first panel, chaired by Petra Goedde (Princeton University), was dedicated to a discussion of concepts and periodizations. In his paper titled "Calling a Spade a Spade," Berghahn defended Americanization as the most useful concept to describe the hegemonic pressure that the United States willingly exerted on a foreign society. Although he stressed that cultural, political, and socioeconomic transfers are always subject to interaction and negotiation, Berghahn emphasized the comprehensive pressure and determination that emanated from America, particularly after 1945, when the United States became the major player within the international system and used its forceeven if sometimes in a subtle or covert wayto impose American models on Europe. He argued that Americanization was successful in West Germany because it met with little resistance, in contrast to the more checkered history of the same process in Germany during the first half of the century.
The next presenter, Anselm Doering-Manteuffel, introduced the concept of Westernization as an analytical category and defined it as a "continuous recycling of ideas from Europe to America, and back again." Doering-Manteuffel emphasized that an intercultural transfer of Western values (parliamentary democracy, free-market capitalism, individualism, freedom of expression in art and science, and so forth) had taken place over a period of almost two centuries, starting with the Enlightenment and continuing to the present day. Although Doering-Manteuffel conceded that Americanization and Westernization overlapped heavily after 1945, he also emphasized that Westernizing influences became particularly evident when political and social change led to an increasing acceptance of liberal democracy in West German society in the 1960s.
In the third paper, Kaspar Maase (University of Tübingen) called for a change in perspective by pursuing an ethnographic approach that focuses on everyday practices of ordinary people, such as the Halbstarke (hooligans), who in the 1950s were viewed as Americanized youth. Maase defined the economic, political, and social aspects of transatlantic exchange as preconditions for rather than causes of Americanization, and he stressed that Americanization should be understood as the selective appropriation, construction, or instrumentalization of "Americanness." At the same time Maase made it clear that Americanization was not a purely willful act but rather utilized a given political and economic situation, in that it depended on the dynamics of the Cold War and the world economy.
In extensive comments, Mary Nolan (New York University) alerted the presenters to the fact that anti-Americanism had not been sufficiently discussed in their papers and that more should be known about the anxieties of Americanization and about its gender implications. She also suggested that participants look at the National Socialist period and at 1945 as a watershed in German-American cultural relations. In her reply to the concept of Westernization, Nolan recommended that more research be done on the ways Germans learned about the content of specific European discussions. She also appealed for more knowledge about the European uses of the terms Westernization, the West, and Americanization.
In the second panel, chaired by Michael Fichter (Free University of Berlin), questions pertaining to labor relations and issues of mass production were discussed. Julia Angster (University of Tübingen) presented a paper on postwar relations between representatives of American trade unions (AFL and CIO), on the one hand, and the newly emerging West German trade union movement and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), on the other. She argued that postwar encounters between German social democrats and trade unionists (many dating to the years of exile) led to programmatic, ideological, and strategic changes on the German side, resulting in Westernized belief systems. This new outlook, which could be "staunchly anti-American" at times but was still "deeply Western," strengthened the theory and practice of social economy in the Federal Republic, and opened the path for the SPD to attain power in the 1960s.
The second paper, by Wade Jacoby (University of California at Berkeley), placed aspects of postwar labor law into the broad context of Allied occupation policy, American grand designs, and Weimar institutions and practices. Regarding the conceptions and strategies of American Military Government, Jacoby pointed out that only small groups of officers could intervene in basic organizational questions and that some of them were trying to invoke American models despite the proclaimed goal of relinquishing most control to the Germans. In a case study of works councils and codeter-mination Jacoby argued that OMGUS (Office of Military Government, United States) portrayed strong forms of works councils and codetermination as unnecessary distractions from the main task of collective bargaining. With reference to the larger Cold War framework, he also stressed that Americans became increasingly interested in promoting economic recovery, thereby seeing less need to secure labor's cooperation. British and American interests in weak works councils became even more pronounced as Allied anticommunism superseded antifascism; and with growing concerns for an economically strong West, the balance of power between labor and capital shifted, and business organizations became much less reliant on labor unions. Rather than taking the survival of works councils as evidence for "failed" Americanization, Jacoby argued that "occupation officials had used American models to restrict and moderate labor's ambitions for discontinuous change vis-à-vis Weimar structures" and that U.S. models were thus used to limit the existence of previous structures.
The third paper, by S. Jonathan Wiesen (Southern Illinois University), drew West German elite industrialists into the debate about Americanization and transatlantic relations after World War II. By exploring their attitudes Wiesen found that West German industrialists were eager to learn American strategies for projecting a positive public image and for applying public and human relations (two terms that were imported into the German language) as instruments for both overcoming public perceptions of a nazified economic elite and winning the trust of a company's workers. But whereas German businessmen became advocates of open markets and the means of projecting a positive corporate image, they also defended German cultural traditions and, much like in the prewar era, remained afraid of key elements of Americanization, such as mass consumption and mass leveling.
In his comment Christian Kleinschmidt (Ruhr University, Bochum) distinguished between different "tendencies of Americanization" and urged the presenters to look not only at the macrolevel but also at the microlevel of businesses and at the "practical realization" of American models within German companies.
In the third session, chaired by Hanna Schissler (GHI/AICGS), Edmund Spevack (GHI) examined the post-1945 constitutional order of West Germany. He argued that the ideas circulating in West Germany at the time had much less of an impact on the creation of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) than the constitutional preferences of the Western allies. Furthermore, Spevack argued that the constitutional future of a West German state was determined at the London Six-Power Conference in the spring of 1948, whereas the reality of the constitution developed thereafter in a dialectical process that was constituted by negotiations between Allies and Germans.
The second paper, by Philipp Gassert (GHI), investigated Kurt Georg Kiesinger, chancellor of West Germany from 1966 to 1969. Gassert's main focus was on Kiesinger's and his generation's postwar political perspective within the context of their life experiences. He argued that Kiesinger's Western outlook and appreciation of a new type of European foreign policy was deliberately chosen because it gave Germany the chance to gain ground vis-à-vis the occupying powers. Gassert also emphasized that the anticommunism of Kiesinger and his cohort allowed them to reconcile themselves with the West by embracing the military alliance without wholeheartedly accepting other Western values or American ideological and cultural influences. However, Gassert stressed that Kiesinger's principal life experience was the recent Nazi past, which he viewed in terms of individual responsibility and which served the German chancellor as a moral lesson requiring Germany's turn to the West.
The third paper in the session was presented by Frieder Günther (University of Tübingen), who looked at West German university teachers and the role of public law after 1945. By focusing on the concept and definition of the state (Staat), Günther demonstrated that German professors of public law had, by the early 1950s, slowly shifted their ideas toward what he called a "Western constitutional consensus" and that by 1970 the Basic Law and the idea of the Rechtsstaat (rule of law) was almost universally seen as an integral part of a democratic system in a Western sense.
In his comment, Ronald J. Granieri (Furman University) pointed out the ambivalent attitude of Konrad Adenauer as an example of a political protagonist who stressed the importance of alliance with the West while warning German journalists about their overuse of Americanisms. Granieri pointed out that during the constitutional debates Germans acted as if they had great freedom of action; that Kiesinger was not only Western oriented but rather European minded; and he wondered why German universities are so un-American even today considering all that they had gone through since the 1950s.
The fourth panel was chaired by Rebecca Boehling (University of Maryland at Baltimore County), and it addressed different fields and aspects of political culture. Raimund Lammersdorf (GHI) compared the way Germans dealt with the question of guilt and then contrasted it with the American way of thinking. He uncovered a distinct dichotomy: The vast majority of Germans were unwilling to accept responsibility for the war and the crimes committed, and even the acknowledgment of guilt by theologians and philosophers, such as Martin Niemöller and Karl Jaspers, did not meet American "standards." In light of the gap between the different value and belief systems, Lammersdorf argued that the postwar Westernization of Germany was not rooted in a strong democratic belief but rather was the result, ironically, of obedience to U.S. democratic ideas; it appeared to one U.S. Army official, who described the changing mentality of the Germans, that they simply exchanged "Father Hitler" for "Father Eisenhower."
In his case study of Der Monat, an anticommunist and CIA-sponsored journal, Michael Hochgeschwender (University of Tübingen) analyzed the intentions and attitudes of the people involved in the organizational networksespecially the Congress of Cultural Freedom (CCF)that supported this magazine. In his discussion of the decline of the CCF (which imploded in 1966-67) and of Der Monat, Hochgeschwender pointed out that the leadership of the CCF was old and incapable of changing its archaic ideology in face of the new cultural, economic, and political dynamics of the 1960s. Although Der Monat and its affiliates were predominantly instruments of anticommunist propaganda, they also contributed, in a more subtle way, to the formation of "consensus liberalism," an ideology that allowed both left-wing liberals and right-wing social democrats to form an anticommunist alliance without giving up reformist notions and concepts.
The third paper, by Thomas Sauer (University of Jena), focused on the Kronberg Circle, a group of conservative Christian intellectuals who shared a common past in English-speaking international church organizations along with an anticommunist attitude; they therefore were favorably predisposed toward a more international (European or Western) outlook. The Kronbergers became staunch supporters of a Western orientation for the Federal Republic and later were "model pupils" of the Americans. What they were less conscious about was the adoption of Western and American ideas, which were integrated into their own patterns of thought and their individual values.
The papers were followed by two commentaries, one by Ursula Lehmkuhl (University of Erfurt), and one by Boehling. Lehmkuhl emphasized the missing dialectic between Americanization and anti-Americanization, the overemphasis of pragmatist philosophy versus social science, the lack of differentiation between geographically different cultures, and the historical growth of Western ideas. Boehling asked the presenters numerous and more specific questions. In particular, she wondered what role German exiles played both for the Kronberg Circle and for the origins of collective-guilt policy. Furthermore, she stressed the elitist and nondemocratic character of the CCF that was, according to Boehling, "not independent, even if CIA funding was not known."
In a panel on "Culture and the Media," chaired by Heide Fehrenbach (Emory University), Sigrid Ruby (University of Gießen) discussed the "Give and Take of American Painting," thereby asserting the role of art as a powerful medium within the transatlantic discourse. Whereas Ruby argued that American art was not (ab)used as a propagandistic weapon in the "cultural Cold War" of U.S. government agencies, she pointed out that American individuals and private institutions at times attempted to convey the message that the United States was a liberal nation that cherished individualism and freedom and, above all, had its own authentic and promising styles of art. On the European side of the Atlantic the attention focused on New York School painting, primarily on Jackson Pollock, whose art became an icon of newness and freedom of expression, and whose appreciation led to the triumph of abstract expressionism. Although revisionist sentiments sprang up in the late 1950s as a result of uneasiness about the sudden cultural rise of American art, the presence (or "quality," as Ruby put it) of abstract expressionism led to an Americanization of modern art and of modernist discourse. At the same time, the westward shift of cultural authority from Paris to New York, the new geographical definition of modern art and Western culture as transatlantic, and the political partisanship that this development stood for indicated a Westernizing trend in this transatlantic evolutionary process.
In her paper on Axel Springer, Gudrun Kruip (Heuss Foundation, Stuttgart) explained that the successful conservative publisher had laid out "a kind of basic law" in the early 1960s that was meant to be an antidote to social change and a challenge to the German Democratic Republic. Although Springer advocated peaceful German reunification and a pro-Israel orientation in politics, he rejected political extremes and was a proponent of a social market economy. Springer, according to Kruip, promoted Anglicization rather than Americanization because his publishing house was originally opened under British licensing and because Britain and its political traditions were never questioned, whereas the United States was looked at in more critical terms. Above and beyond that, Springer's main goal lay in the popularization of an unorthodox blend of ideas (anticommunist and progressive) that were ultimately meant to convince Germans to support the new West German republic.
Walter Erhart (University of Greifswald) in his paper, "The American Influence on the Humanities in Germany," used the fields of literary studies and literary theory as means by which to interpret more general developments from 1945 to 1970. Erhart noted thatwith the possible exception of the social and political sciencesthe humanities after 1945 were not Americanized and that there was at first a "sharp distinction" between the two academic cultures, as German scholars such as Heidegger identified American modernity with Geistlosigkeit (soullessness). A second phase saw the creation of numerous visiting professorships for Germans at American universities. Because the majority of German scholars were not in touch with everyday American life, they reiterated old stereotypes about American naivité and standardization. Whereas this second phase was marked by "ironic distance" on the part of Germans, German scholars entered a stage of "condescending recognition" in the following phase. In a way, Erhard argued, the three phases and their respective levels of discourse could be seen as matching Hayden White's tropes of narrative: tragedy (for Heidegger and his generation), irony (for the phase of anti-American sentiments and clichés), and comedy (that is, the "we-have-known-it-all-before mentality").
In his comment Thomas Saunders (University of Victoria) stressed such topics as the slow generational change in the humanities and the anti-assimilationist attitude of the Germans in their conception of Geist versus "the masses," and he pointed out that more research should be conducted on the European art dialog. Saunders emphasized that the caricature of America and the desire for unification should be seen as the supreme motives of Springer and his publishing house.
In a panel on "Urban Planning and Landscapes," chaired by Christof Mauch, Alexandra Staub (University of Cottbus) compared the designs of German single-family houses after World War II with those in the United States. She concluded that German housing trends in the period following World War II were not so much influenced by American patterns of living but rather by German traditions, including architectural forms that had been ideologically propagated during the Third Reich. Staub described the traditional German architectural ideal as a single-family house with a closed facade, small windows, and a steeply pitched roof, whereas the typical American single-family house was characterized by spatial transparency in the interior and an openness to the street. In a brief comparison with public German architecture Staub demonstrated that official buildings were much more open than private homes because they were designed to demonstrate democratization and German architectural rehabilitation.
In his paper on the "West German Debate on Urban Planning" in postwar Germany, Jeffry M. Diefendorff (University of New Hampshire) demonstrated that, although there was great continuity in German architectural thinking before and after 1945, urban planning became a distinctly Western profession in the postwar era. Despite the systematic American sponsorship of Economic Cooperation Administration competitions in the early 1950s, there was very little evidence of direct American influence on German planning. At the same time, an indirect influence was noticeable in the close attention that German journals of architecture and planning paid to urban developments on the other side of the Atlantic. German planning had its roots not only in the Bauhaus movement but also in the English garden-city movement and international modernism. In conclusion, Diefendorf saw postwar urban planning in Germany as an "international, largely Western European profession, with planners well informed about both theory and practice in the United States."
In a third paper, Peter Krieger (National University of Mexico) discussed individual buildings and urban ensembles in West Germany. He argued that during the 1950s modern architectural forms became less political, when examples of Americanized architecture also appeared in East Germany. Furthermore, he pointed out that "Americanization should be seen as a reference point to include the full geographical and cultural hemisphere of the Americas, both North and South America, and especially Mexico." Krieger also argued that in recent years architecture has taken on new (nonpolitical and often corporate) identities that transcend regional or national representations.
In his comprehensive commentary Michael Toyka-Seid (University of Darmstadt) raised questions about the possibility of drawing lines between architecture, mentality, and social behavior; about how deeply architecture was actually "engraved in our minds"; and to what extent gender questions played a role in designing single-family houses. He also asked what role German antimodernism played in shaping the discourse about Western cities, considering that they were never seen as positive models or ideals for the Old World.
In a panel on regional issues, which was chaired by Christine von Oertzen (GHI), Anette Neff (Georgetown University and University of Trier) looked at the role that "common Germans" played in the process of democratization (rather than Westernization or Americanization) in West Germany. She argued that Germans in rural areas rarely encountered Western European ideas and that only a small number of U.S. soldiers brought new ideas on society and politics into the countryside. Even the Americans themselves believed in 1952 that their democratization programs had not been very successful. But it was their hope that at least some institutions would continue on, even without further financial aid and support from the U.S. government.
The paper by Maria Höhn (Vassar College) on "American Troops and German Society" explored the encounter between Germans and American GIs in the garrison communities of Rhineland-Palatinate during the 1950s. She argued that becoming part of the West after World War II was not an abstract concept but a "lived reality" and that the daily encounter of Germans with Americans, both through formal interactions (such as invitations to parades) and informal contacts (American music and consumer products) deeply affected the political identity of Germans and the way in which they grew into the Western alliance and the "new consumer democracy."
A paper by Ulrich Bausch (VHS Reutlingen) addressed the cultural policy of the American Information Control Division in south western Germany. Bausch argued that the American occupational forces triggered among Germans "the process of detachment from the old German authoritarian state" by introducing media and new democratic forms of cultural life in the immediate postwar era. The outcome of "cultural democratization" was not a blueprint of the American model, "not the way things worked in America, but the way Americans wanted things to work out."
In his commentary Alon Confino (University of Virginia at Charlottesville) praised the "view from the ground" that all three papers had presented. In his opinion, a focus on regions and an anthropological approach were essential for an adequate understanding of ideas and for the defeat of the hegemony of "national" history and its boundaries. He stressed that terms such as Americanization and Westernization were "not important, only the way we use them"; he then opened a discussion about postcolonial theory and how it could be applied to our understanding of postwar identities (for instance, in terms of attraction versus repulsion; material versus cultural spheres, and so forth).
The last panel, chaired by Detlef Junker (GHI), addressed issues of European culture beyond the 1960s. In his paper about the "Americanization of Culture in West Germany," Axel Schildt (University of Hamburg) discussed the transformation process in German mass culture that took place in the 1960s. He analyzed what he called "radical changes" in the transition from an industrial to a postindustrial "consumer" and Erlebnis society and in the media. Schildt argued that the events of 1968 contributed to a more modern physiognomy for West German society, particularly through the expansion of higher and university education, the efforts of the women's movement, and the loosening of rigid sexual norms. Furthermore, he stressed that the 1960s brought with them the Americanization of West German society, especially in lifestyle, fashion, advertising, and entertainment.
A paper by Victoria de Grazia (Columbia University) on "The Advent of Mass Consumption in Postwar Europe" could not be presented, but it had been distributed to all conference participants.
In his comment on Schildt's and de Grazia's papers, Bernd Greiner (University of Hamburg) stressed the difference between the credit card mentality of today's Germans and the fears of risk taking that were common among members of Erhart's generation, who still remembered postwar inflation. In particular, however, Greiner suggested that research be continued by looking at the German pastthe traditions of German militarism, the debate on the Auschwitz trial, and the phenomenon of civil disobedience. He argued that the deeper we get into German history, the more useful we would find Americanization and Westernization, not as heuristic devices but as analytical tools.
By way of summary, Kroes dared to suggest that the 1960s would probably have happened without America anyway, Doering-Manteuffel stressed the complementary characters of Westernization and Americanization, and Berghahn suggested that more comparative study be done in the future.
"Continuity, Change, and Globalization in Postwar Germany and America."
Presenters: Christine von Oertzen (GHI/AICGS) and Hanna Schissler (GHI/AICGS) at the German-American Center for Visiting Scholars (GACVS), April 8, 1999. Conveners: Christof Mauch (GHI) and Carl Lankowski (AICGS).
On the occasion of the arrival of the first fellows in our Collaborative Research Program, co-organized by the GHI and the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) and supported by the German-American Academic Council (GAAC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a luncheon workshop was held at the GACVS. This provided the new fellows with the opportunity to introduce their research projects and discuss them with representatives and scholars from a number of institutions in the Greater Washington area. Historian Hanna Schissler comes to the AICGS from the Georg Eckert Institute for Schoolbook Research in Braunschweig. She is working on a project titled "World History, Multiethnicity, and National Identity in Schoolbooks and Curricula of Germany and the United States." In the coming months she will be developing common themes with Yasemin Soysal of Harvard University and the University of Sussex.
Christine von Oertzen is a historian at the Technical University of Berlin and is currently working on a comparative German-American project on "Gender Politics and Professionalization." Her counterpart is Donna Harsch, a professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The fellows are currently planning workshops, and all have been invited to present their collaborative projects at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the German Studies Association in Atlanta.
Among the specialists who were invited to the luncheon discussions were representatives from numerous governmental and nongovernmental American and international organizations: Gisele Dessieux (World Bank); David Dorn (American Federation of Teachers); Sasha Drobnick (American Association of University Women Educational Foundation); Diane Falkner (Bureau of Labor Statistics); Jens Hanefeld (German Embassy); Heide Hartmann (Institute for Women's Policy Research); Mary Beth Hastings (League of Women Voters); Kenneth Heger (U.S. National Archives); Robert Tuch (GAAC); James Herbert, Kathleen Mitchell, and Joseph Neville (all NEH); Detlef Junker and Christof Mauch (both GHI); Jackson Janes, Carl Lankowski, and Jodi Smith (all AICGS); and Suzanne Brown-Flemming, Susanne Cassel, Helmut Geist, Thomas Greven, Heike Grimm, and Michael Hertkorn (all GACVS).
After introductory remarks by Carl Lankowski, Christof Mauch, Kathleen Mitchell, and Robert Tuch, the two scholars provided a brief introduction to their research projects, which led to an informal discussion. More information about the projects by Schissler and von Oertzen can be found on pages 38 and 39 of this issue.
The Season of Thoughts Out of Season: Aesthetics, Religion, and Politics, 1814-1848
Despite Max Weber's insistence that a "demystification of the world" is one of the hallmarks of modern times, the nineteenth century also witnessed a significant re-Christianization of society. In reaction against rationalism, secularization, and the intellectualization of faith in the age of the Enlightenment, many members of the European elite and lower classes embraced Christian belief during the Romantic era. The struggle between secular and religious, liberal and conservative powers inevitably shaped the production of culture, contributing toand mirrored bythe fragmentation of the artistic idiom into a multitude of competing styles and artistic concepts. Based on case studies, in this project I examine the social and cultural significance of organized religion and popular religiosity in nineteenth-century France, Germany, and the United States.
This comparative approach aims to illuminate the role of religion as a cultural and political factor in the first half of the nineteenth century. Religious art, like religion itself, exerted especial influence on the creation and definition of popular culture. In this context, I investigate how political beliefs and social conditions in Europe and America shaped the artistic and literary production of the time, in which ways they played themselves out in expressions of taste, and how strong the connections were between taste, class, and political movements.
The significant impact on religious imagery of both social developments and changes within religious dogma can be traced in iconographic as well as stylistic innovations. For example, in the course of industrialization and the emergence of new leisure activities, a significant number of men left the churches, whereas the majority of women remained within the sphere of institutionalized faith. As the churches strove to adapt to this new situation, religion and religious practice became increasingly "feminized." In religious art, this feminization resulted in a certain sweetness, sentimentality, and in a specifically female iconography, as paradigmatically represented in the work of Marie Ellenrieder or Joseph von Führich, whose "Gang Mariens über das Gebirge" (Maria's Walk Through the Mountains, 1841) became extremely popular. Being antimod-ernist in outlook, the aesthetics of those segments of society that radical and bourgeois thinkers marginalizedsuch as women of the lower classes, who were among the most fervent supporters of religious revival movementsformed an important part of modernity, reacting, even if negatively, to the sweeping changes taking place in the economy and society.
The impact of religion on the production of both high art and mass culture thereby was decisively molded by the reciprocal relationships between the dichotomies that shaped the period from 1814 to 1848: for instance, the simultaneous crisis in and reawakening of Christian belief or the inclination toward a secularized political public sphere on the one hand and the re-Christianization of private life on the other. These tensions and ambiguities, among others, were the defining features of Prussia in the first half of the nineteenth century. In Prussia the tendency toward the privatization of religious faith corresponded to efforts to reinstate a personalized form of government as represented paradigmatically by Friedrich Wilhelm IV, king of Prussia from 1840 to 1861. Likewise, religious artists, such as the Nazarenes, wrestled with these issues as they attempted to fashion a social, spiritual, and intellectual alternative to the revolutionary and secularist legacy of the eighteenth century. The coexistence of competing, even contradictory social concepts and their reflection in religious art as well as in historical painting between 1814 and 1848 forms the core of the project.
Another aspect that has to be considered regarding the phenomenon of re-Christianization is the rise of what Stephen Bann has called "historical-mindedness." In a century typified by an ardent striving for "historicization," religion and religious art played an important part in the process of inventing traditions and also served as wellsprings of secular legitimation for conservative rulers such as the kings of Prussia and Bavaria. In general, the idea of selfhood and individuality as mediated by the historical past and the rise of historical-mindedness as "a substratum to almost every type of cultural activity" (Stephen Bann, Romanticism and the Rise of History, Twayne's Studies in Intellectual and Cultural History [New York,1995]) represent central aspects of nineteenth-century culture. In particular, medievalism gained a new psychological meaning for both artists and beholders. As history became the prism through which the century saw itself, the creation of national myths and the sanctification of historical incidents became a dominant factor in cultural practice. Medievalism not only played a crucial part in the definition of individual selfhood and personal identity but also in the construction of national identity. By fabricating the past, artists, historians, politicians, and scholars, to mention just four prominent groups, established images of the Middle Ages that were then often used as models for the present and as guiding principles for new social structures. History, like art itself, thereby functioned as a substitute for or a displacer of religion as a way of establishing both identity and an ethical system.
In the continuing conflict between France and Germany these images were imbued with nationalistic rhetoric that also exercised a powerful influence on artistic practice and art theory and criticism. As a result of the highly political overtones of religion, and thus religious art, at the beginning of the century, an ideological attitude toward art production was encouraged among religious artists. By equating style and ethics, debates over technique automatically turned into discussions about value systems. Political and ideological implications of style, for example, crystallized in the representation of the body. Yet, the religiousness of ultramontane Catholic artists formed a discourse that undermined and contradicted the articulation of nationalistic viewpoints in both countries because they looked toward Rome instead of their own capitals for guidance and inspiration.
Although the nineteenth century witnessed a profound modernization of the churches and a fundamental readjustment of religious practice and doctrine to the needs of the masses, the churches also increasingly relied on the ruling political powers during the course of the century. They considered them to be their natural allies in the struggle against revolutionary movements, which they regarded as hostile to religious institutions. Not able to cope with the social question and the impoverishment of the masses on a broader, institutionalized level, the churches used their considerable power in effect to domesticate and silence the lower classes. The consolation they had promised turned sour, however, because they failed to help the poor. Instead of ardently searching for economic solutions, the churches began to employ images of saints as role models for the proletariat. By comparing the situation of the lower classes with Christian martyrdom, they suggested eternal reward for mundane suffering. An analysis of the employment of religious imagery for conservative politics concludes my study.
Cordula A. Grewe
Gender Politics in Postwar Germany and America
I am currently working on two projects within the larger field of gender politics in postwar Germany and America. The first project is to write a history of the German Association of University Women (GAUW) in the postwar period. The GAUW was founded in 1926 and followed the American and British examples of reorganizing women academics of all faculties and professions in order to strengthen their call for better conditions inside and outside the universities. The project aims to trace networks on the international scene and ask whether and how the organizations especially promoted scientific exchange among Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world. The period of the closest German-American relations begins, of course, in the postwar period after the refounding of the GAUW in 1949. (The Nazis had closed down the organization in 1935, and many of its members were forced to resign from academic positions and emigrate in order to escape persecution and death.) One of the overarching questions is how the German organization and its American counterpart operated within the different areas as lobbyists in the politics of education as well as within the women's movements in their own countries.
My second project concerns German and American attitudes toward gender and social politics. Having been part of a comparative project at the Free University of Berlin on the history of part-time work in East and West Germany, I now wish to include developments in the United States. In collaboration with Donna Harsh (Carnegie Mellon University) I address how the societies in East and West Germany as well as in the United States thought about housework and married women's work, and how they dealt with a growing female work force. This comparison aims to enlarge our understanding of how different societies reproduced hierarchies of gender, ethnicity, and race in the quickly changing social and economic conditions of the second half of the twentieth century.
Christine von Oertzen
World History, Multiethnic Society, and National Identity in Textbooks and Curricula in Germany and the United States
This project, developed in close collaboration with Yasemin Soysal (Harvard University and the University of Sussex), aims to explore the transnationalization of collective identities in Europe. Our goal is to think about history and the teaching of history and the social sciences beyond the straight jacket of national borders. We address issues not only of recent historical inquiry but also of the possibilities (and limitations) of conveying the findings of recent scholarship to young people, thereby also examining national educational discourses.
Currently, the project focuses on comparing the ways in which world history is taught in the United States and Germany. At a later point, I intend to include other case studies, such as an eastern European country, a western European country, and possibly a Latin American country. How schools (school boards, teachers, national organizations) confront the need to explain today's rapidly changing world to children and youths is essentially negotiated within national frameworks. I contexualize the national debates about teaching world history and, in particular, analyze the curricula and textbooks for world history in high schools and colleges. I also address some of the historiographic problems in the debates over teaching world history and analyze the frameworks in which these debates take place. The back and forth of small- and large-scale historical explanations is investigated, along with the shift from the deconstruction of historiographical approaches to a search for new large-scale orientations.
Web Success at www.ghi-dc.org
The Institute's Web site is a hit! We are currently receiving circa 2,500 visits per week. It comes as a welcome surprise that, according to the host names of our visitors, a large number of visitors appear to be nonacademics. This growing interest in our work underscores the GHI's mission to reach a broader audience, beyond the academic core.
In our continuing efforts to make the site more useful we have added full-text versions of our reference guides. In contrast to the printed copies, the Web versions are searchable and have hypertext qualities. The latest addition to our online offerings is our Ten-Year Report. In the near future we will post an updated scholarship guide that will include direct links to the different endowments and granting institutions. Look for more guides in the coming months.
In addition, please be sure to look at our library catalog's new online search page, which now has an improved interface and expanded search options. We have finished upgrading our in-house computer software so that additions to the catalog will be made on a monthly basis. You also will find a complete list of our periodicals (see also the Library Report in this issue of the Bulletin).
In conjunction with the use of e-mail communication, our Web site has become invaluable in planning and organizing GHI conferences. Instead of mailing out several different versions of a conference program, participants need only to check the Web site for updates. Additional information, such as audio-visual material that enhances individual papers, can be posted on the Web as well. This greatly minimizes downloading time for recipients with slower connections. Cost-effectiveness will play an increasing role in the use of our Web site. We will try to reduce print runs by placing more GHI publications on the Web. However, we will continue to produce hard-copy versions of all our publications.
Fifth Transatlantic Doctoral Seminar in German History
From April 21 to 24, 1999, the GHI and the Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University hosted the annual seminar for Ph.D. candidates in German history. Sixteen students from the United States and Germany presented and discussed their dissertation projects. The overall theme of this year's seminar was "Germany in the Age of Revolution, 1789-1850." The following doctoral candidates participated:
Karin Breuer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mary Ann Coyle, University of Maryland at College Park
Elisabeth Droß, University of Munich
David Ellis, University of Chicago
Deborah Fleetham, University of Rochester
Bernt-Stefan Grewe, University of Trier
Mark Jantzen, University of Notre Dame
Eric-Oliver Mader, University of Munich
Brent Maner, University of Illinois at Urbana
Ursula Meyerhofer, Free University of Berlin
Thomas Nutz, University of Munich
Philipp Prein, Humboldt University of Berlin
Teresa Sanislo, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Diethard Sawicki, Ruhr University, Bochum
Daniel Schönpflug, Technical University of Berlin
Ronald Trapp, University of Hamburg
The conference sessions were moderated by six scholars from both sides of the Atlantic:
Prof. Roger Chickering, Georgetown University
Dr. Andreas Daum, GHI
Prof. Martina Kessel, University of Bielefeld
Prof. Volker Sellin, University of Heidelberg
Prof. James J. Sheehan, Stanford University
Prof. Jonathan Sperber, University of Missouri
A detailed report on the seminar will appear in the Fall 1999 issue of the Bulletin.
Andreas W. Daum
Summer Program 1999
The GHI is pleased to announce the participants in the 1999 Summer Program, co-organized by the German Department of University of Wisconsin at Madison. The ten participants will spend the period from June 6 to June 19 in Germany. Daniel S. Mattern from the GHI will lead this year's program. A complete summary of activities will appear in the fall 1999 issue of the Bulletin.
Todd Berryman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dissertation topic: "Origins and Spread of Nationalism in the German States Between 1750 and 1815." Adviser: Prof. Konrad H. Jarausch.
David E. Connolly, Ohio State University. Dissertation topic: "Between Alchemy and Metallurgy, Between Oral Craft and Big Business: Locating Ulrich Rülein von Kalbe's Bergbüchlein in Theory and Practice." Adviser: Prof. Anna A. Grotans.
Denise M. DellaRossa, University of Wisconsin at Madison. Dissertation topic: "Literature and Literary Criticism in the Periodical Press of the German Women's Movement, 1848-1919." Adviser: Prof. James D. Steakley.
Erwin Fink, University of Toronto. Dissertation topic: "The Region and the Nation in Imperial Germany." Adviser: Prof. James Retallack.
Emily Fisher Gray, University of Pennsylvania. Dissertation topic: "Building Identity: Architecture and Confessionalization in Seventeenth-Century Augsburg." Adviser: Prof. Thomas Max Safley.
David J. Holsinger, University of Wisconsin at Madison. Dissertation topic: "Lenition in Germanic." Adviser: Prof. Joseph C. Salmons.
Susan Mazur, University of California at Riverside. Dissertation topic: "Community Participation and Urban Planning in Rostock: Examining the Relationship Between `Civil Society' and City Form." Prof. David B. Kronenfeld.
Catherine Plum, University of Wisconsin at Madison. Dissertation topic: "History, Myth, and East German Youth." Adviser: Prof. Rudy Koshar.
Edward Potter, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dissertation topic: "Reshaping Morality Through Laughter: The Didacticism of Early Enlightenment German Comedy." Prof. Jonathan M. Hess.
Bradford D. Whitener, University of Virginia at Charlottesville. Dissertation topic: "Wissenschaft and German Catholic Historical Scholarship, 1863-1914." Adviser: H. C. Erik Midelfort.
In this issue of the Bulletin we would like to direct your attention to our extensive collection of periodicals. Some of these titles are unique to the Washington area. The library also has university catalogs (Vorlesungsverzeichnisse) from nearly every German institution of higher education. Please consult the library's Internet catalog (www.ghi-dc.org) for complete bibliographical information and holdings, or simply call the GHI directly.
Cordula A. Grewe Research Fellow, born in Hannover, Germany, 1968. She studied art history, modern and contemporary history, the history of the Middle Ages, and medieval Latin at the University of Freiburg, the Free University of Berlin, and the American University, Washington, D.C. (M.A., 1992). She received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Freiburg in 1998. She has taught at the University of Freiburg and the City College of Emmendingen, and has worked for German and international private and public galleries as well as for auction houses specializing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. In 1992-93 she interned at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Fellowships: Konrad Adenauer Scholarship (1994-97), Fulbright Award (1991-93).
She has published several articles on Wilhelm von Schadow (1788-1862), the Düsseldorf School of Painting, and nineteenth-century German art in scholarly journals, magazines, exhibition catalogs, and art auction houses, among them "The Invention of the Secular Devotional Picture," Word & Image (Mar.-Apr. 1998): 1-13; "Wir rufen zwar fortwährend Rafael! aber was von Rafael ist in uns?" Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums (1998): 123-32; "Schöne, würdige Heiligenbilder schaffen und den Zopfgeschmack in dieser Region total verdrängen: Zu den Heiligendarstellungen Wilhelm von Schadows," Neusser Jahrbuch für Kunst, Kulturgeschichte und Heimatkunde 1997 (1998): 11-26. She is currently revising her dissertation on Wilhelm von Schadow for publication. This study of the founder of the Düsseldorf School of Painting explores the intersection of religion, historical consciousness, and politics in nineteenth-century Germany. Her new "Habilitation" project at the GHI is a comparative cultural study of France, Germany, and the United States in the nineteenth century. (For a full description, see New Research Topics in this issue.)
Christine von Oertzen Visting Research Fellow, born in Bonn, Germany, 1961. She studied history, political science, and philosophy at the universities in Paris, Freiburg, and Berlin. She earned her Dr. phil. from the Free University of Berlin in 1998. She was executive producer at the Berliner Festspiele GmbH (1986-87), a research assistant and exhibition manager of a local study on the history of Berlin at the Heimatmuseum Wedding (1991-93), a research assistant at the Arbeitsstelle für Vergleichende Gesellschafts-wissenschaften at the Free University of Berlin (1993-97), and a research assistant at the Technical University of Berlin (1998-present).
Her revised dissertation will be published this year under the title Teilzeitarbeit und die Lust am Zuverdienen: Geschlechterpolitik und gesellschaftlicher Wandel in Westdeutschland 1948-1969. She has published a number of articles on social and gender politics in West and East Germany (together with Almut Rietzeschel), for example, in the International Review of Social History. She is currently working on the histories of the German and the American university women's associations and on a comparative study investigating the politics of part-time work in postwar Germany and the United States. (For a full description, see New Research Topics in this issue.) She also is a member of the editorial board of Werkstatt geschichte (1996-present).
Stephan Aßmann Intern, May 1999. Studied for two semesters at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and is currently finishing his studies in history, social sciences, and English at the University of Bonn.
Mr. Aßmann worked on various projects, including research at libraries and archives, preparation of conferences, and proofreading as well as fact-checking of scholarly texts.
Evaluation of the GHI
In 1998 the GHI was evaluated by the German Council on Science (Wissenschaftsrat), which was established in 1957 by an agreement among the German federal government and the individual federal states. Its purpose, among other things, is to evaluate scientific or scholarly institutions, including universities, that receive federal funds. Evaluations by the Council can have a significant structural and budgetary impact on the institutions being assessed.
A working group of the Council headed by its current chairman, Prof. Winfried Schulze from the University of Munich, visited the Institute on December 15 to conduct its evaluation. Other members of the group included: Ministerialrat Dr. Bernhard Döll (Federal Ministry of Education and Science), Ministerialdirigent Dr. Dietrich Fichtner (Federal Ministry of Education and Science), Prof. Carol Gluck (Columbia University), Prof. Harold James (Princeton University), Ministerialdirigent Dr. Heribert Knorr (Ministry of Science, Research, and Art, Baden-Württemberg), Prof. Jürgen Kocka (Free University of Berlin), Prof. Reinhard Rürup (Technical University of Berlin), Prof. Rudolf Schieffer (Monumenta Germaniae Historica), Prof. Stefan Wild (University of Bonn), and two staff members of the Council on Science, Dr. Lydia Hartwig and Dr. Michael Quirin.
The group met with the directorship of the Institute and the research fellows to discuss the GHI's major programs and scholarly achievements. Before the visit, the GHI had sent the Council a detailed report of its activities and accomplishments, as well as The German Historical Institute, 1987-1997: A Ten-Year Report.
The Council's visit was part of an evaluation of all German Historical Institutes conducted in 1998 and 1999. A report on the Council's findings will most probably be made public in the fall of 1999.
The 1999 Fall Lecture Series will focus on the theme of "Nature in History." Among the presenters are David Blackbourn (Harvard University), Franz-Josef Brüggemeier (University of Freiburg), Sandra Chaney (Erskine College), Linda Bryant Parshall (Portland State University), and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn (University of Hannover). Detailed information about the topics and dates of the individual lectures will be posted on our Web site and will be listed in the Fall 1999 edition of the Bulletin.
The GHI is pleased to announce that Mary Fulbrook, from University College London, will give this year's Annual Lecture. The lecture will be held on November 18, 1999, at the GHI in Washington. Professor Fulbrook will speak on recent controversies over interpretations of German dictatorships in the twentieth century. Additional information will be posted on our Web site and will be published in the Fall 1999 edition of the Bulletin.
"The Shadows of Total War: Europe, East Asia, and the United States, 1919-1939." Conference at Münchenwiler, Switzerland, August 25-28, 1999. Conveners: Roger Chickering (Georgetown University) and Stig Förster (University of Bern).
"Before Television: Mass Media, Political Cultures, and the Public Sphere in Western Europe and the United States, 1900-1950." Conference at the GHI, September 23-26, 1999. Convener: Thomas Goebel (GHI).
Seventh Annual Symposium of the Friends of the GHI
The annual symposium of the Friends of the GHI (FGHI) took place on November 13, 1998, at the Institute. The day was spent listening to and then discussing the research projects of the two FGHI dissertation prizewinners and the ongoing work of two GHI research fellows. The meeting began with paper presentations by the research fellows.
First, Philipp Gassert shared many insights with the audience in a paper titled "A Man With a Past: Kurt Georg Kiesinger and West German Vergangenheitspolitik, 1946-1969." Gassert's larger biographical project on Kiesinger is summarized in the Fall 1998 issue of the Bulletin (Issue 23, p. 38). The Friends were both delighted and honored that Chancellor Kiesinger's daughter, Viola Wentzel, was able to join us in the discussions.
Next, Raimund Lammersdorf spoke to the audience on "Continuity and Change in German Westernization, 1945-1949: Encounters Between the Political Cultures of Germany and the United States." Lammersdorf's larger research project is summarized in the Spring 1998 issue of the Bulletin (Issue 22, p. 34).
The afternoon session was devoted to the presentations of the two FGHI dissertation prizewinners. Anne Taylor Allen and Walter Kamphoefner, with Jay Baird as chair, formed the committee of judges for the 1998 competition; we are indebted to them for identifying two outstanding winners.
Michelle Mouton from the University of Minnesota presented a synopsis of her dissertation on Nazi social policy titled "From Nurturing the Nation to Purifying the Volk: Conflicts in the Implementation of German Family Policy, 1918-1945."
Germany's first democracy, the Weimar Republic, was established in the aftermath of World War I. It was replaced by the National Socialist dictatorship only fourteen years later. In the few decades between 1914 and 1945 Germans waged and lost two world wars and were devastated economically. Throughout Germany modernization transformed life as the population migrated from small towns to cities, as industry replaced agriculture, and as both the labor force and the home were rationalized. Mass consumption and mass media drew Germans together as never before. The profound demographic, political, economic, and cultural shifts associated with modernization altered people's understanding of the contemporary world. The concomitant and pervasive fear that the German family was in a state of precipitous decline prompted both Weimar governments and the National Socialist regime to create policies to restore traditional gender roles and rejuvenate families. Although both attempted to lower mortality and raise morality among Germans, their distinct political structures resulted in vastly different family policies. During the Weimar era, when family-policy issues were debated in a parliamentary democracy, political strife, economic turmoil, and ideological differences precluded the creation of a unified or uniform policy toward families. In sharp contrast, after 1933 the Nazis imposed a monolithic, racially driven family policy that aimed to centralize and standardize policy toward families. Central to Nazi policy was the belief that state aid should be limited to "worthy" Germans.
No state is a monolith, however. During both eras the implementation of national policy depended on the participation of doctors, city officials, social workers, and judges. Mouton's dissertation explores the fundamental and ever-shifting disparity between national policy and its implementation at the local level. Her research reveals that local realities sometimes facilitated and at other times hindered the intended implementation of state family policy. She demonstrates how individuals interpreted national policy in light of budgetary limitations, political disagreements, church influences, and the personal beliefs of state agents. She also illustrates the crucial role individuals played in shaping the policy that affected them. Mothers, fathers, and children actively collaborated with, rebelled against, and maneuvered around state mandates. As a result, although national policy changed dramatically after 1933, implementation at the local level changed less markedly and less consistently. According to Mouton, understanding family policy is not only a question of the state but also of the individual.
Timothy R. Vogt, who completed his doctoral dissertation at the University of California at Davis, ended the day with his presentation on "Denazification in the Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany: Brandenburg, 1945-1948." Vogt's manuscript has already been accepted for publication by Harvard University Press.
Vogt's dissertation is a social and political history of one of the most important aspects of the Soviet occupation. On the broadest level, it encompasses significant aspects of contemporary European history: everyday life in Nazi Germany, Germany's postwar coming to terms with its Nazi past, the Cold War division of Germany, postwar Soviet policy, and the construction of a one-party communist system in Eastern Europe. This is the first English-language study of denazification in the Soviet Occupation Zone and is based on extensive research in recently opened East German archives.
Historiographically, Vogt's is a revisionist work in line with the current post-Cold War reassessment of the prehistory of the East German state. His study directly challenges both the "antifascist" paradigm employed by East German historians as well as the "Sovietization" interpretive model that has dominated studies in the West. In short, it is argued that Soviet denazification was neither an effective purge of society nor part of a methodical Sovietization of the eastern zone. Instead, denazification is pictured as a failure, an effort that fell short of its goals and was eventually abandoned by the frustrated Soviet and German leadership.
The methodology employed in Vogt's study is an empirically grounded narrative combined with an analysis of ideological, political, and social developments. The analysis is set in the context of developments in Brandenburg, one of the five provinces in the Soviet Occupation Zone. The example of Brandenburg is an effective means of putting "flesh and blood" into the story and giving the reader insight into both broader developments and the human actors that propelled events. The result is an analysis that is not based simply on policy makers and their policies but rather on how policy was continuously reformulated in response to developments on the local level.
A unique aspect of Vogt's study is a database of information on 2,740 individuals who appeared before denazification commissions in 1947-48. Through the use of this database the reader is taken inside the denazification process and hears the voices of those caught up in the purge. The data also provide the basis for a demographic analysis of individuals called before the denazification commissions. This inside look into the process is wholly unique in historical work on the Soviet denazification program.
Vogt's study comes to several conclusions: First, denazification cannot be seen as a successful purge of former Nazi Party members. Second, denazification hindered rather than helped the restructuring of the social, political, and economic systems. Third, denazi-fication was not a coherent policy aimed at the Sovietization of the eastern zone but rather a series of ad hoc programs unevenly implemented and ultimately discarded when they proved unworkable. Fourth, the communist critique of fascism was at odds with the findings of the denazification commissions, and this resulted in a decoupling of the purge from ideology because the program was increasingly reduced to a superficial processing of cases. Fifth, the abandonment of the experiment with denazification commissions was part of a move toward the building of a one-party state in East Germany.
The participants in this year's symposium left the Institute at the end of the day with a sense of exhilaration that such exciting research is being undertaken by younger scholars in the field of German history. We are already looking forward to the results of the 1999 competition.
Dissertation Prize 1999
The Friends of the GHI are delighted to announce their annual competition for the best doctoral dissertations in German history, German-American relations, or the history of Germans in North America. The two joint winners will be given the opportunity to present their research at the eighth annual symposium of the Friends in November 1999.
Potential candidates must be nominated by his or her dissertation supervisor. In order to qualify, candidates must have completed their doctoral dissertation at a North American university during the 1997-98 academic year. Winners will receive a cash prize of $500 and travel expenses to Washington, D.C., for the symposium.
The dissertation supervisor's recommendation, along with a project abstract of one to three pages, should be submitted by June 15, 1999, to:
Prof. William W. Hagen
Chair, Friends of the GHI Prize Committee
Department of History
University of California at Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-8611
The Friends of the GHI are proud to support the production of the one-hour documentary film based on Gabriele Simon Edgcomb's important book, From Swastika to Jim Crow: Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges (Malabar, Fla., 1993). The film relates the story of some of the Jewish scholars who were forced out of Central Europe by the Nazis, who then sought refuge in the United States, and who ended up teaching at traditional black colleges in the American South. The GHI played a key role in supporting Dr. Edgcomb's original research for the book.