Franz Steiner Prize 2012

Franz Steiner Prize for German-American Studies 2012 Awarded to Anja Schäfers

  • Event Report

    On October 17, 2012, the 2012 Franz Steiner Prize, offered biennially for the best German or English-language manuscript in transatlantic and North American studies, was awarded to Anja Schäfers, Bonn, for her outstanding dissertation "Mehr als Rock 'n' Roll: Der Radiosender AFN bis Mitte der sechziger Jahre" ("More than Rock 'n' Roll: the radio station AFN until the mid-1960s"). The prize is awarded by the German Historical Institute in Washington DC and the Franz Steiner Verlag in Stuttgart, which publishes the GHI's book series Transatlantische Historische Studien (Transatlantic Historical Studies; THS). It carries an honorarium of 3500 Euro and includes publication of the award-winning manuscript in the THS series. This year's award was presented on the evening of October 17, 2012 by Thomas Schaber, editor-in-chief of the Franz Steiner Verlag, and Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson, Deputy Director of the GHI, in a ceremony that took place as part of the German-American Day celebration at the Neues Schloss in Stuttgart. The celebration was organized by Christiane Pyka, Director of the James Byrnes Institute in Stuttgart and Gabriele Kloesel-Schaefer, head of the Federation of German-American Clubs in Swabia. The event was framed by a wonderful concert entitled "Musical Fusion over the Atlantic" and attended by over 200 people including U.S. Consul General Kevin C. Milas. After Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson briefly introduced the GHI and the THS series to the audience, the laudatio for Ms. Schäfer was delivered by Thomas Schaber, who gave an overview of the work and praised the recipient for her groundbreaking study:

    [AFN's] main purpose was at first to broadcast news and to motivate the troops, to bring a piece of home to the forces abroad. Extremely important for that were music programs, particularly request shows as well as the broadcasting of sport events. Soon, AFN was also popular with a German audience. The music that was played came to represent the end of a terrible war and hope for a better future, a future with new political as well as cultural freedom. Actually, one can indeed say that AFN brought a new spirit and attitude to life. ... One of the common clichés was, of course, that AFN solely played music and that its listeners were mainly German teenagers. Ms. Schäfers' analysis shows a more precise picture - so we can see an assumed history of everyday life in post-war Germany in a new light. She expands our knowledge of this part of transatlantic relations - her work will be a standard reference for future research in this field - she is a worthy winner of our award! To sum it up, allow me to quote from her epilogue: 'Despite all changes in the assignments and the everyday lives of the troops, a lot is still the same when you are overseas: be it the stress, the boredom, the loneliness or the homesickness: it's good to have the radio on, and AFN still is much more than Rock 'n' Roll.'

    Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson

    Britta Waldschmidt Nelson (GHI Deputy Director), Anja Schäfers, and Thomas Schaber (Steiner Verlag).