Striking at the roots of German militarism: efforts to demilitarize German society and culture in American-occupied Württemberg-Baden, 1945-1949 Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Nawyn, Kathleen J.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • Most scholars interested in cultural change in western Germany after World War II have focused on the issue of democratization. This dissertation looks instead at social and cultural demilitarization, examining efforts initiated by the Americans during their postwar occupation aimed at eliminating the sources and symptoms of militarism from German society and culture in hopes of preventing another war. Ultimately, it argues that, by late 1949, life in the state of Württemberg-Baden was characterized far less by militarism than by civilianism and maintains that this transformation was neither solely a spontaneous German reaction to the horrors of war, nor an unchallenged development. Rather, despite troublesome flaws in their thinking and sometimes inconsistently applied regulations, the Americans perceptibly influenced the character and parameters of tangible change. In addition to making concrete demands, such as requiring the removal of militaristic books from libraries, they monitored personnel appointments and policed German educational and youth programs, thereby preserving the public sphere for sympathetic native voices and enabling and nurturing a discourse condemning war and militarism. At the same time, American efforts were facilitated and strengthened by the many Germans who also wished to see German militarism eradicated, even when they did not always agree with their occupiers regarding methods or exact objectives. Although social and cultural demilitarization as a basic goal was widely supported by the Germans, its nature and extent remained contested throughout the occupation, with individual views determined in part by concerns regarding the time and costs involved in making substantive changes and in part by personal beliefs regarding Germany’s past and the causes of the country’s recent descent into war.
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  • In Copyright
  • Jarausch, Konrad Hugo
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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