Vergangenheitsbewältigung at the Expense of the United States
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When the US Army made headway in Germany in spring 1945, intelligence officers were rather puzzled by the fact that few ordinary Germans actually felt responsible for the National Socialist dictatorship and the war it had unleashed. Many of them showed ‘not the slightest trace of guilt’ and hoped that the US Army came as a ‘liberator’, not an ‘occupier’.1 In August 1945, army intelligence reported its own surprise at the fact that many Germans felt more hostile towards the Americans than towards the French and British. This was explained by the inaccurate assumption that the USA entered the war voluntarily, and thus must have had an agenda of its own, namely, exporting its way of life.2 When the military government subsequently failed to provide Germany with enough food, many Germans reacted with arrogance and disobedience towards the occupational force after autumn 1945.3 The Protestant clergyman Martin Niemöller noted during his lectures in the immediate post-war era that many Germans tended to blame the Allies for material hardship, not the war instigated in the name of Germany.4 Humanitarian aid from the Allies was taken for granted,5 and recipients of CARE support parcels even began to complain. One woman wrote to the distribution service that the chocolate she received did not match ‘the quality of the previous parcel’.6
KeywordsConcentration Camp Military Government American Occupation Weimar Republic German Soldier
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