Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



At the end of the Second World War, Berliners lived in a war-ravaged city and faced occupation under Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The occupation of Berlin and Germany became a competition between capitalism and communism. East Germany became a communist nation while West Germany recovered under the supervision of capitalist nations. In the 1950s West Berlin found a new ally in the director of the Berlin Desk at United States Department of State, Eleanor Lansing Dulles.

Eleanor Dulles came from a privileged family who participated in American diplomacy at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Dulles challenged the traditional roles of women in the early twentieth century and sought higher education. It was this experience, along with a determination to seek leadership positions, which brought Dulles in conflict with the career world of men. Dulles received a doctorate in economics in the early 1930s and studied international economic issues. This experience prepared her for the task she would face in Austria and West Berlin. After the Second World War, the State Department sent Dulles to assist in the economic recovery of Austria. Dulles helped Austrian officials apply for Marshall Plan funding and encouraged American companies to invest in the nation. In 1952, Dulles transferred from Austria to the State Department’s Berlin Desk.

Dulles’s time at the Berlin Desk had a major impact on West Berlin. She not only encouraged American companies to invest in West Berlin, but she brought public and private funding to the war-torn city. The city received a congress hall and badly needed infrastructure repairs. West Berlin’s Free University received a new library, medical school, and student housing. All of this would not have occurred without Dulles’s use of soft power diplomacy. This work looks at Dulles’s impact on American diplomacy and her use of soft power diplomacy. Through soft power diplomacy, Dulles convinced American officials that West Berlin was a main priority in the Cold War fight against communism, and she inspired West Berliners to be proud of their city.



Committee Chair

Shindo, Charles