The U.S. Information Centers, the U.S. Publications Section, and U.S. Literature in Austria
New Books from America. Salzburg (AND). New books from America have just arrived. With this, the wishes of many Austrians to learn more about the United States are fulfilled. Of particular interest is a thorough and objective representation of life in America for Austrian readers who have been held in intellectual isolation for the last seven years.
-- Salzburger Tagblatt,March 23, 1946
One of the most difficult duties of the ISB was the softening of predominantly negative clichés depicting the United States as a cultural wasteland. Challenges abounded, particularly in a country in which cultural selfconfidence (even self-overestimation) hardly seemed broken, in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the experiences of fascism, National Socialism, destruction through war, and postwar disparity. In a country in which the ownership of nicely bound books already served as a symbol of culture, the America Houses and the distribution of U.S. literature--yes, even proving that literature existed at all in America--quite naturally, maintained a high priority. The height of these barriers, which U.S. cultural officers had to surmount, is illustrated by the following announcement regarding the Information Center in Linz, which appeared in the Linzer Volksblatt on November 29, 1945.
USA Culture for Austria: For us Austrians, America is really an unknown country, of which some feel that it confuses culture with technological achievements. This is not so. Even America can offer us something culturally and scientifically. Yet, we Austrians would be very happy if the American soldiers now living in our country would get to know Austrian culture and lifestyles, and learned to respect this small but culturally important country. Victors are easily susceptible to the danger of deducing their intellectual superiority only from their military strength.1