The literature describing social conditions during the post–World War II Allied occupation of Germany has been divided between seemingly irreconcilable assertions of prolonged criminal chaos and narratives of strict martial rule that precluded crime. In The Art of Occupation, Thomas J. Kehoe takes a different view on this history, addressing this divergence through an extensive, interdisciplinary analysis of the interaction between military government and social order.
Focusing on the American Zone and using previously unexamined American and German military reports, court records, and case files, Kehoe assesses crime rates and the psychology surrounding criminality. He thereby offers the first comprehensive exploration of criminality, policing, and both German and American fears around the realities of conquest and potential resistance, social and societal integrity, national futures, and a looming threat from communism in an emergent Cold War. The Art of Occupation is the fullest study of crime and governance during the five years from the first Allied incursions into Germany from the West in September 1944 through the end of the military occupation in 1949. It is an important contribution to American and German social, military, and police histories, as well as historical criminology.
The creation of a new school system in the Philippines in 1898 and educational reforms in occupied Japan, both with stated goals of democratization, speaks to a singular vision of America as savior, following its politics of violence with benevolent recuperation. The pedagogy of recovery—in which schooling was central and natives were forced to accept empire through education—might have shown how Americans could be good occupiers, but it also created projects of Orientalist racial management: Filipinos had to be educated and civilized, while the Japanese had to be reeducated and “de-civilized.”
In Campaigns of Knowledge, Malini Schueller contrapuntally reads state-sanctioned proclamations, educational agendas, and school textbooks alongside political cartoons, novels, short stories, and films to demonstrate how the U.S. tutelary project was rerouted, appropriated, reinterpreted, and resisted. In doing so, she highlights how schooling was conceived as a process of subjectification, creating particular modes of thought, behaviors, aspirations, and desires that would render the natives docile subjects amenable to American-style colonialism in the Philippines and occupation in Japan.
The Napoleonic wars did not end with Waterloo. That famous battle was just the beginning of a long, complex transition to peace. After a massive invasion of France by more than a million soldiers from across Europe, the Allied powers insisted on a long-term occupation of the country to guarantee that the defeated nation rebuild itself and pay substantial reparations to its conquerors. Our Friends the Enemies provides the first comprehensive history of the post-Napoleonic occupation of France and its innovative approach to peacemaking.From 1815 to 1818, a multinational force of 150,000 men under the command of the Duke of Wellington occupied northeastern France. From military, political, and cultural perspectives, Christine Haynes reconstructs the experience of the occupiers and the occupied in Paris and across the French countryside. The occupation involved some violence, but it also promoted considerable exchange and reconciliation between the French and their former enemies.By forcing the restored monarchy to undertake reforms to meet its financial obligations, this early peacekeeping operation played a pivotal role in the economic and political reconstruction of France after twenty-five years of revolution and war. Transforming former European enemies into allies, the mission established Paris as a cosmopolitan capital and foreshadowed efforts at postwar reconstruction in the twentieth century.
In the aftermath of total war and unconditional surrender, Germans found themselves receiving instruction from their American occupiers. It was not a conventional education. In their effort to transform German national identity and convert a Nazi past into a democratic future, the Americans deployed what they perceived as the most powerful and convincing weapon-movies.
In a rigorous analysis of the American occupation of postwar Germany and the military’s use of “soft power,” Jennifer Fay considers how Hollywood films, including Ninotchka, Gaslight, and Stagecoach, influenced German culture and cinema. In this cinematic pedagogy, dark fantasies of American democracy and its history were unwittingly played out on-screen. Theaters of Occupation reveals how Germans responded to these education efforts and offers new insights about American exceptionalism and virtual democracy at the dawn of the cold war.
Fay’s innovative approach examines the culture of occupation not only as a phase in U.S.–German relations but as a distinct space with its own discrete cultural practices. As the American occupation of Germany has become a paradigm for more recent military operations, Fay argues that we must question its efficacy as a mechanism of cultural and political change.
Jennifer Fay is associate professor and codirector of film studies in the Department of English at Michigan State University.
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