Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This study is primarily concerned with the years 1950-1960, but the period 1945-1949 is also addressed, because many of the policies and institutions introduced to democratize Germany immediately after World War II were carried forward. The official position on both sides during the 1950s was that cooperation was of the essence. In the beginning, the Americans believed that the virtues of democracy could best be cultivated in the German consciousness if the Germans themselves implemented democratic programs under broad, philosophical guidelines, while simultaneously observing Americans and American ideas in practice. This study points out that the Germans accepted the guidelines and their responsibilities for building a democracy, and by the end of the decade, Germany was considered to be an established democracy. Economic recovery was crucial to overall recovery, and this dissertation describes how spending by the U.S. forces contributed more to the German economy than did the Marshall Plan. The Americans had definite ideas on how to change the German educational system to make it more democratic. However, Germany had its own traditions, and German educators insisted on restoring the school structure of the Weimar period. How these traditions were restored while complying with the principles of denazification and democratization are discussed. The Americans reshaped the information media, contributed to cultural changes, and influenced political life in Germany. The measures taken in these areas are treated in this study. Specific examples from the city of Zweibruecken are presented to illustrate how the American presence affected the Germans and how they got along together. This dissertation shows that personal contacts produced an untold number of individual friendships as well as conflicts. Countless joint ventures, literally thousands of German-American marriages, and hundreds of friendship clubs resulted. These relationships, together with organized efforts, such as the America Houses, exposed millions of Germans to American ideas, products, practices, and tastes and left a lasting impression on German life. Germans value traditions, and they retained a distinctiveness, but this dissertation concludes that the American presence had a large influence which was felt rather distinctly at the grass-roots level.