The American Impact on Postwar Germany

The American Impact on Postwar Germany

The American Impact on Postwar Germany

The American Impact on Postwar Germany


It is only with the benefit of hindsight that the Germans have become acutely aware of how profound and comprehensive was the impact of the United States on their society after 1945. This volume reflect the ubiquitousness of this impact and examines the German responses to it.

Contributions by well-known scholars cover politics, industry, social life and mass culture.


The Goethe-Institut has been involved in numerous programs and conferences dealing with the Weimar Republic, with National Socialism, and with the former GDR, and these historical subjects will continue to be of importance in our work. But with the unification of the Germanys, the postwar Federal Republic itself has also become history, and it is time to reexamine its beginnings. The younger generation of today is little aware of how much West German society was influenced by America, not only through the close ties of American politics and economics but also through the presence of hundreds of thousands of Americans in Germany during the postwar decades.

The intensity and significance of the "Americanization" of West Germany in the fifties and sixties was the subject of a symposium organized by Prof. Dr. Reiner Pommerin, Dresden, the History Department of Dartmouth College, and the Goethe-Institute Boston. During the symposium, an examination of American influence on the Federal Republic's general political and economic development provided the overarching context for studies of specific cultural and social changes during the early nation's history. This American influence extended to all levels of culture and into many aspects of daily life and mass consumption.

The youth of West Germany were most open to "Americanization." American films, jazz, and casual manners changed the lifestyle of the fifties. The economic and cultural influence of America also left its mark on contemporary theater, postwar literature, architecture, and city planning, as well as on consumer attitudes and modern modes of production and distribution.

Have the Germans really become "children of an American civilization," as Klaus Harpprecht once wrote? Should we agree with the answer . . .

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