Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Government in Germany and Japan, 1944-1952

Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Government in Germany and Japan, 1944-1952

Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Government in Germany and Japan, 1944-1952

Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Government in Germany and Japan, 1944-1952

Synopsis

The unprecedented influence of United States military governments in Germany and Japan makes this volume a fundamental contribution to several basic fields: history, political science, economics, archival administration, military studies, civil affairs, and international law and criminal justice.

Although the speeches and discussions of the 1977 "Americans as Proconsuls" Conference were often piquant, entertaining, nostalgic, each addressed the core issues of the topic, often setting the historical record straight. The chief virtue of these essays, however, may be, as Edward N. Peterson states in his own piece, that "The scholar's history of the occupation could still assist the public and the politician to avoid the pitfalls of impossible dreams and illusions created by an American isolation from the rest of suffering humanity."

Excerpt

This is by way of an outline, a preview of coming attractions, and a subtle reminder to our speakers of the themes -- not, of course, the interpretations -- they agreed to cover in our conference sessions and papers. It is not a keynote speech -- well, perhaps we can call it a "minor keynote."

Historians have long been aware of the "thirty-years after" syndrome, when nostalgia for the remembered or imagined glories of youth seeks to reconjure the experiences and the feelings of that heyday, particularly when it was part of a significant and historic enterprise. I, like many of you, have now reached the age of nostalgia, and the constructive educational experience of my youth, my growing-up catalyst, was three and one-half years in the United States military government of Germany, rather than the preceding destructive experience of combat infantry service in two theaters of war. I encountered a society reduced closer to a state of nature than any the natural law political theorists had ever known, although not imagined, and had a small part in trying to put it together again.

Now this great constructive educational experience, the pride of my youth, is under attack by revisionists, and worse still, has been eroded in my own mind by subsequent sad experience. As a member of the historical fraternity, and as custodian of some of the official documentary sources, however, I was not reduced to aimless reminiscence nor to my own biased reconstruction. I could offer the records to the experts, ask them the questions, and thanks to the Eisenhower Institute and the American Committee on the History of the Second World War, assemble them in one place and one time to confer and debate, all recorded for posterity -- to say nothing of my own nostalgic needs.

My questions to the experts necessarily derive largely from my personal experiences in Germany, but there is reason to believe that . . .

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