The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties

By Martin Klimke | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
SDS MEETS SDS

THE ORIGINS OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENTS IN
WEST GERMANY AND THE UNITED STATES

When the 21-year-old German student Michael Vester started his 1961– 62 exchange year at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, with the support of the Fulbright program, he had no idea that he was to become the earliest mediator of an emerging transnational New Left and, at the same time, take an active role in the creation of one of the most influential manifestos of the American student movement of the 1960s. Vester had been born in 1939 Berlin into a middle-class family and spent the first years of his life there before his family moved to Silesia. Committed to a leftist Christian communitarianism and pacifism, part of his mother’s family had become politically active in the Weimar Republic after their belief in German nationalism had been shattered by the human catastrophe of the First World War. As a result of their commitment, some family members were forced to emigrate after the National Socialists came to power in 1933. The Second World War and the Soviet advance eventually forced the family to relocate to Holzminden in rural-industrial Northern Germany in March 1945, where Vester’s father had been deployed as a soldier.

As refugees, they built up their life anew in this provincial setting during the postwar years while keeping in touch with the other branches of their internationally dispersed family that had spread to Great Britain, the United States, and Latin America. These contacts enforced Vester’s orientation toward the Anglo-American branches of the family, who had left England around 1630 as politico-religious dissenters and had been known for their activity in the antislavery movement of the nineteenth century. Most prominent among these relatives was his grandfather’s cousin, Thurman Arnold, who, as assistant attorney general in the Roosevelt administration, was in charge of the Antitrust Division in the Department of Justice and was an intrepid liberal and partisan of civil rights.

The German Protestant environment in which Vester grew up after the Second World War encouraged his decidedly antiwar position, which included opposition to the politics of West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the Federal Republic’s rearmament in the 1950s. Members of

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The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1- SDS Meets SDS 10
  • Chapter 2- Between Berkeley and Berlin, Frankfurt and San Francisco the Networks and Nexus of Transnational Protest 40
  • Chapter 3- Building the Second Front the Transatlantic Antiwar Alliance 75
  • Chapter 4- Black and Red Panthers 108
  • Chapter 5- The Other Alliance and the Transatlantic Partnership 143
  • Chapter 6- Student Protest and International Relations 194
  • Conclusion 236
  • Notes 247
  • Sources 325
  • Index 329
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