GIs and Fräuleins

The German-American Encounter in 1950s West Germany

By Maria Höhn

360 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 13 photos, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5375-7
    Published: July 2002
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6032-8
    Published: April 2003

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Awards & distinctions

Julius E. Williams Distinguished Community Service Award, NAACP

With the outbreak of the Korean War, the poor, rural West German state of Rhineland-Palatinate became home to some of the largest American military installations outside the United States. In GIs and Frauleins, Maria Hohn offers a rich social history of this German-American encounter and provides new insights into how West Germans negotiated their transition from National Socialism to a consumer democracy during the 1950s.

Focusing on the conservative reaction to the American military presence, Hohn shows that Germany's Christian Democrats, though eager to be allied politically and militarily with the United States, were appalled by the apparent Americanization of daily life and the decline in morality that accompanied the troops to the provinces. Conservatives condemned the jazz clubs and striptease parlors that Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe opened to cater to the troops, and they expressed scorn toward the German women who eagerly pursued white and black American GIs. While most Germans rejected the conservative effort to punish as prostitutes all women who associated with American GIs, they vilified the sexual relationships between African American men and German women. Hohn demonstrates that German anxieties over widespread Americanization were always debates about proper gender norms and racial boundaries, and that while the American military brought democracy with them to Germany, it also brought Jim Crow.

About the Author

Maria Hohn is associate professor of history at Vassar College.
For more information about Maria Höhn, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"This important book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the U.S. military's interactions with foreign civilians, the military's presence in Europe during the Cold War, and in gender and race relations in 1950s West Germany."--Journal of Military History

"Höhn's study skillfully places local experiences into the larger contexts of West German society and German-US relations."--Choice

"This fine book should become a staple for students of postwar Germany, sexuality, and race."--Central European History

"Makes a significant contribution to our understanding of 1950s community dynamics and race relations during the occupation. . . . [Höhn's] use of gender provides a new and detailed picture of German social and economic history at the local and national levels since the 1950s. Her book is a valuable contribution to the scholarly literature."--Journal of American History

"In this very fine book, Höhn illuminates critical changes in West German society and opens up a fascinating new front in the history of the cultural expansion of the United States."--International History Review

"Few scholars have focused on the social impact of the American bases on local communities in Germany. Maria Höhn's study of the Baumholder region in the 1950s is a significant step toward understanding the local repercussion of such a deployment. . . . As a model community study, Höhn's book makes a major contribution to our understanding of the American impact on local German communities during the Cold War."--American Historical Review