GIs and Germans

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Culture, Gender, and Foreign Relations, 1945–1949

Petra Goedde

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At the end of World War II roughly 300,000 American GIs were deployed as occupation forces in Germany. Many of them quickly developed intimate relations with their former enemies. Those informal interactions played a significant role in the transformation of Germany from enemy to ally of the United States, argues Petra Goedde in her engrossing book.

Goedde finds that as American soldiers fraternized with German civilians, particularly as they formed sexual relationships with women, they developed a feminized image of Germany that contrasted sharply with their wartime image of the aggressive Nazi stormtrooper. A perception of German “victimhood” emerged that was fostered by the German population and adopted by Americans. According to Goedde, this new view of Germany provided a foundation for the political rapprochement that developed between the two countries even before the advent of the Cold War. Her provocative findings suggest that the study of foreign relations should focus on interactions not only between politicians and diplomats but also between ordinary citizens.

Petra Goedde is a lecturer at Princeton University.

“This fine example of the recent turn towards cultural approaches to international history casts new light on the momentous U.S. shift from anti-Fascism to anti-Communism.”—Thomas Borstelmann, International History Review

“This splendid book makes a major contribution not only to the study of the occupation of Germany but also to the study of the Cold War.”—Akira Iriye, Harvard University


“This well written book on U.S.-German relations in the crucial postwar years advances the historiography of international history through a broader conceptualization that includes gender and cultural relations.”—Walter Hixson, author of Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War

"Goedde’s book serves as an evocative investigation of the effects U.S. troops and their actions can have on a vulnerable culture. Those planning the next occupation would do well to take note."—Meg Kinnard, National Journal

“Goedde’s book is a significant contribution to a growing literature that seeks to understand the ways in which gender shapes foreign policy.”—Robert G. Moeller, American Historical Review

“Goedde is to be lauded for broadening the discourse on the American occupation of Germany and the origins of the Cold War to include psychology, social relations, and gender. Her work should convince other scholars of Nachkriegsgeschichte to look beyond the typical institutional and policy studies into new and exciting areas of inquiry.”—Richard A. Leiby, German Studies Review

"Well written, with many interesting details and amusing anecdotes . . . Goedde's sound study gives us a new version of the genesis of amiable German-American relations."—Heike Paul, American Studies
ISBN: 9780300090222
Publication Date: December 11, 2002
304 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4