Defining the West German Soldier: Military, Masculinity, and Society in West Germany, 1945-1989 Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Bruehoefener, Friederike
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation traces the emergence and development of concepts of military masculinity in West Germany in the four decades after the end of World War II. Between 1945 and 1989, representatives of the military, members of all major political parties, numerous social and protests groups as well as the media, repeatedly negotiated the function, constitution, and self-image of the West German military and its soldiers. When the Bundeswehr was established in 1955, it reinvigorated debates over contested concepts of military masculinity, understood as a set of mental, physical, and behavioral traits typical or significant for men serving in the armed forces. Contemporaries expressed competing ideas about what it meant to be a man in military uniform through their negotiations of soldiers' rights and duties as well as their attempts to regulate their lives inside and outside of the barracks. By studying these discourses and policies at the intersection of the military, parliamentary politics, and civil society, this dissertation makes two important contributions. First, it shows that military masculinities are not only the result of military necessities and political agenda. They are also defined by changing cultural beliefs, social expectations and broader international developments. Second, it reveals that a gradual but important shift occurred in West Germany between the end of the Second World War and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. While traditional military values lost influence outside of the military, civilian norms and values became more important for the way society defined military masculinity.
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  • Hagemann, Karen
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2014

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