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GIs in Germany
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Book description

The fifteen essays in this volume offer a comprehensive look at the role of American military forces in Germany. The American military forces in the Federal Republic of Germany after WWII played an important role not just in the NATO military alliance but also in German-American relations as a whole. Around twenty-two-million US servicemen and their dependants have been stationed in Germany since WWII, and their presence has contributed to one of the few successful American attempts at democratic nation building in the twentieth century. In the social and cultural realm the GIs helped to Americanize Germany, and their own German experiences influenced the US civil rights movement and soldier radicalism. The US military presence also served as a bellwether for overall relations between the two countries.


'… worth a read not just for its account of the cultural, political, and social history that created the relationship between Germany and the United States today, but also to serve as a lesson for the pitfalls that our military is sure to face as it changes how forces are postured in the years to come.'

Source: Military Review

'This is a too-rare moment of genuine collaboration and cooperation between American and German scholars who bring together a range of perspectives on the American military presence in Germany … the editors and contributors who patiently assembled this book should be very proud. Any scholar whose work touches on America's Cold War Army or on postwar German history will benefit from this volume.'

Source: Journal of Military History

'The authors have made valuable contributions to the nation’s military history and to the study of international relations … scholars of American military history, international relations, and international social history will certainly find this volume to be a valuable addition to their reading lists.'

Source: H-Net Reviews

'This diverse collection offers a nuanced assessment of whether and how the massive US military presence contributed to Americanization from above and below as well as to Americanism. It will be of interest to students of American military history, the Cold War, postwar West Germany, and the 1970s.'

Mary Nolan Source: The Journal of American History

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  • 7 - American Military Families in West Germany
    pp 161-186
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    The presence of American, British, and French military forces in West Germany was the vital pledge of allied politics for more than forty years. These troops created security in Germany by re-establishing public order. On October 1, 1945, the agencies of the U.S. military government in Germany was restructured and the U.S. Group Control Council (USGCC) was renamed Office of Military Government for Germany, United States (OMGUS). Army divisions would be stationed in Germany on a permanent basis, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower would be appointed as the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). This was the beginning of the reinforcement of U.S. forces in peacetime. To make West German participation in NATO more acceptable to a skeptical West European public, it was argued that U.S. forces would be able to intervene to check any renewed threat to peace in Europe from the Germans.
  • 8 - Insolent Occupiers, Aggressive Protectors
    pp 189-211
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    The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR rendered irrelevant a half-century of planning between two significantly different military systems to fight a war that never took place. The U.S. Armed Forces and the German Bundeswehr have gone predictably separate ways. The U.S. Army and the Bundeswehr were separate entities. The policy demands of their respective governments required significantly different force structures and doctrines. Yet parallel evolution in a common environment eventually produced a deterrent no less effective in its way than the nuclear missiles of America's strategic triad, or the growing economic interaction between the Federal Republic and the states of the Warsaw Pact. That the NATO central front could hold and counterattack without exhausting itself, without becoming pinned in place, and without resorting immediately to nuclear weapons, contributed significantly to shaping Soviet strategy and deterring Soviet adventurism.
  • 9 - Protection from the Protector
    pp 212-234
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    On September 9, 1950, President Harry Truman announced that the United States intended to temporarily multiply the number of American troops in Europe. He strongly emphasized that a "basic element" of the decision was the government's expectation that the U.S. commitment would be matched by the Europeans. Chancellor Ludwig Erhard emphasized the great importance the German government attached to the troops and tried to re-assure President Lyndon Johnson with the remark that in his judgment the GIs were quite happy in Germany. Vietnam accelerated the shift in American attitudes on the political situation in Europe. Richard Nixon announced that the United States would "under no circumstances" make a unilateral reduction in its commitment to NATO: Any reduction in NATO forces will only take place on a multilateral basis and on the basis of what those who are lined up against the NATO forces - what they might do.
  • 10 - The Godfathers ofInnere Führung?
    pp 237-251
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    This chapter examines the political raison d'être behind the U.S. Army's military communities in Germany. It focuses on the political impact of the institutionalized presence of family members and other civilians with the American forces in West Germany during the Cold War. Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), there were as many American civilian personnel and military family members living in West Germany as troops. Bringing American soldiers' families to Europe and establishing military communities was initially intended to address an internal problem, to restore and maintain morale and discipline so that the military mission of the occupation could be achieved. The establishment of the military communities anticipated the new American policy in Germany. The immense value of the presence of army families as a political symbol always outweighed the financial and military arguments for leaving the families behind.
  • 11 - FromBefehlsausgabeto “Briefing”
    pp 252-270
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    This chapter examines the formative years of the development of German-American relations in the garrison cities. In early 1947, U.S. authorities introduced a new policy that encouraged a friendly attitude toward and association with Germans. The European Command (EUCOM), stationed in Heidelberg since 1947, started to develop its own ideas of what German-American relations should look like. For EUCOM, the "morale, health and efficiency" of the occupation troops and their dependents were of paramount importance. EUCOM started a program to improve relations between the U.S. occupation troops and the German population. This effort was triggered by U.S. High Commissioner John J. McCloy's policy for re-orientation of the German population. The German-American Women's Club was particularly active in promoting contact between the groups and fostering friendships. The Little America issue led to the physical separation of self-contained American housing settlements from German residential areas meant for German-American relations.
  • 13 - The U.S. Military and Dissenters in the Ranks
    pp 296-310
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    This chapter explains the peculiarities that characterized the relationship between American GIs and West German policemen after World War II. It discusses how GI delinquency and the numerous conflicts with German civilians that occurred influenced German-American relations at the grassroots level. Complaints about the insolent occupiers or aggressive protectors were one sign of the West Germans' growing self-esteem during the early years of their country's economic miracle. Many Germans were no longer willing to accept an occupation-like U.S. military presence. In the second half of the 1950s, other issues began to bother the public even more than GI crimes, notably the so-called occupation damages, that is, property losses or damages arising from real estate requisitioning, troop maneuvers and low-flying military aircraft. GI delinquency led to a veritable crisis for the German police, who had also to grapple with limited jurisdiction, frequent staff changes, and organizational reforms.
  • 14 - The U.S. Armed Forces and the Development of Anti-NATO Protest in West Germany, 1980–1989
    pp 311-329
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    Court-martial case files documenting noncapital infractions by U.S. military personnel unveil the stormy casual relationships and tense chance encounters, providing a unique opportunity to witness the many different faces of GIs and Germans in the first three years of Berlin's occupation. To maintain discipline among the troops stationed in the destroyed city, courts-martial were assembled swiftly so that potential infractions involving U.S. Army personnel could be adjudicated according to the dictates of military law. The cases adjudicated in these trials provide a view into German-American relations that looks beyond the much-discussed issue of fraternization. The court-martial system was designed to discipline and punish armed service personnel for infractions committed during tours of duty. Police records, MP reports, and personal accounts testify that Americans were represented in scuffles with the Berlin civilian population: these less than pleasant forms of fraternization punctuated the daily contact between Germans and their postwar protectors.
  • Appendix: - Population Statistics for U.S. Military in Germany, 1945–2000
    pp 347-352
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    In a preliminary assessment drafted in early 1954, Wolf Graf Baudissin, the head of the department within the Amt Blank responsible for developing the concept of Innere Führung noted that the Germans were faced with the difficult choice between "becoming Europeanized" or pursuing "reform". The failure of the European Defense Community (EDC) put an end to these worries. The discussions between the Americans and West Germans on the concept of Innere Führung in the years leading up to the creation of the Bundeswehr make clear the complexity of trying to transfer the practices of the American "army within a democracy". The West Germans were concerned about the broad issues of the social integration and legitimation of the armed forces subsumed within the concept of Innere Führung. The Americans took a more narrow approach and viewed the question of civil-military relations as primarily a constitutional issue.
  • Select Bibliography
    pp 353-358
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    The West German experts envisioned that the Federal Republic would provide the proposed European Defense Community (EDC) with a modern tactical air force for close air support to German army units. The plan to restrict the air force to providing combat support to ground forces stemmed in part from the dominance of infantry and artillery experts in the West Germans' discussions and the lessons they had drawn from their World War II experiences. It also reflected the scant attention the Jahrbuch der Luftwaffe had given to aerial doctrine and the theory of airpower during the 1930s and 1940s. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) began a program within the framework of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP) in 1953 to train pilots and technicians from NATO member states at air bases in Bavaria. The scale of American materiel and training support reduced their chances to influence German air potential.

Page 1 of 2

Select Bibliography

The following is a select bibliography of works on the history of the American armed forces in Germany from 1944–5 to the present. As the introduction to this volume makes clear, it is inevitably heavily weighted toward the first postwar decade.

Readers seeking a more complete overview of the relevant literature can now refer to Theodor Scharnholz, ed., The American Military Presence and Civil-Military Relations in Germany: A Guide to Sources in American and German Archives. German Historical Institute Reference Guide 16 (Washington, DC, 2003). Besides a catalogue of the relevant archives, it also includes an exhaustive listing of the printed primary and secondary sources.

Books and Articles

Alvah, Donna. Unofficial Ambassadors: American Military Families Overseas and the Cold War, 1946–1965 (New York, 2007).
Anhäuser, Uwe. Militär-Heimat Hunsrück. Fichten, Fachwerk, Flugzeugträger: Beiträge zu einer regionalen Militäranalyse (Neckarsulm, Germany, 1987).
Baker, Anni P. American Soldiers Overseas: The Global Military Presence (Westport, CT, 2004a).
Baker, Anni P.. Wiesbaden and the Americans: The Social, Economic, and Political Impact of the U.S. Forces in Wiesbaden (Wiesbaden, 2004b).
Becker-Schaum, Christoph, Philipp Gassert, Martin Klimke, Wilfried Mausbach, and Marianne Zepp. “Entrüstet Euch!” Nuklearkrise, NATO-Doppelbeschluss und Friedensbewegung (Paderborn, 2012).
Biddiscombe, Perry. “Dangerous Liaisons: The Anti-Fraternization Movement in the U.S. Occupation Zones of Germany and Austria, 1945–1948,” Journal of Social History 34 (2001): 611–47.
Boehling, Rebecca. A Question of Priorities: Democratic Reform and Economic Recovery in Postwar Germany (New York, 1996).
Brauerhoch, Annette. “Fräuleins” und GIs: Geschichte und Filmgeschichte (Frankfurt, 2006).
Browder, Dewey A.The GI Dollar and the Wirtschaftswunder,” Journal of European Economic History 22 (1993): 601–12.
Browder, Dewey A.. “The Two Faces of the American Soldier in Germany,” in Amerika in Rheinland-Pfalz. Beiträge zuu einem halben Jahrhundert deutsch-amerikanischer Nachbarshaft, ed. Winfried Herget (Trier, Germany, 1996), 99–115.
Browder, Dewey A.. Americans in Post–World War II Germany: Teachers, Tinkers, Neighbors and Nuisances (Lewiston, NY, 1998).
Calder, Kent E. Embattled Garrisons: Comparative Base Politics and American Globalism (Princeton, NJ, 2007).
Clay, Lucius D. Decision in Germany (New York, 1950).
Cleaves, Yarrow. “U.S. Military Presence in Germany,” in The Sun Never Sets: Confronting the Network of Foreign U.S. Military Bases, ed. Joseph Gerson and Bruce Birchard (Boston, 1991), 225–46.
Cooley, Alexander. Base Politics: Democratic Change and the US Military Overseas (Ithaca, NY, 2008).
Craig, R. S. “The American Forces Network in the Cold War: Military Broadcasting in Germany,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 32 (Summer 1988): 307–21.
Davidson, E. J. The Death and Life of Germany: An Account of the American Military Occupation (New York, 1959).
Davis, Franklin M., Jr. Come as a Conqueror: The United States Army's Occupation of Germany 1945–1949 (New York, 1967).
Domentat, Tamara, ed. Coca-Cola, Jazz und AFN. Berlin und die Amerikaner (Berlin, 1995).
Duke, Simon. United States Military Forces and Installations in Europe (Oxford, 1989).
Duke, Simon, and Wolfgang Krieger, eds. US Military Forces in Europe: The Early Years, 1945–1970 (Boulder, CO, 1993).
Evans, Jennifer V. Life among the Ruins: Cityscape and Sexuality in Cold War Berlin (New York, 2011).
Frederiksen, Oliver J. The American Military Occupation of Germany 1945–1953 (Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Army, 1953).
Gassert, Philipp, Tim Geiger, and Hermann Wentker, eds. Zweiter Kalter Krieg und Friedensbewegung: Der NATO-Doppelbeschluss in deutsch-deutscher und internationaler Perspektive (Munich, 2011).
Gillem, Mark L. American Town: Building the Outposts of Empire (Minneapolis, MN, 2007).
Gimbel, John. A German Community under American Occupation (Stanford, CA, 1961).
Gimbel, John. The American Occupation of Germany: Politics and the Military, 1945–1949 (Stanford, CA, 1968).
Goedde, Petra. GIs and Germans: Culture, Gender, and Foreign Relations, 1945–1949 (New Haven, CT, 2002).
——. “Gender, Race, and Power: American Soldiers and the German Population,” in The United States and Germany in the Era of the Cold War: A Handbook, vol. 1, 1945–1968, ed. Detlef Junker (Cambridge, 2004), 515–21.
Grathwol, Robert P., and Donita M. Moorhus. American Forces in Berlin, 1945–1994: Cold War Outpost (Washington, DC, 1994).
Hawkins, John Palmer. Army of Hope, Army of Alienation: Culture and Contradiction in the American Army Communities of Cold War Germany (Westport, CT, 2001).
Hellmann, Gunther, ed. Alliierte Präsenz und deutsche Einheit. Die politischen Folgen militärischer Macht (Baden-Baden, Germany, 1994).
Helt, Richard C.A German Bluegrass Festival: The ‘Country-Boom’ and Some Notes on the History of American Popular Music in West Germany,” Journal of Popular Culture 10 (Spring 1977): 821–32.
Henke, Klaus-Dietmar. Die amerikanische Besetzung Deutschlands. Quellen und Darstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte, vol. 27 (Munich, 1995).
Herf, Jeffrey. War by Other Means: Soviet Power, West German Resistance, and the Battle of the Euromissiles (New York, 1991).
Herget, Winfried, Werner Kremp, and Walter G. Rödel, eds. Nachbar Amerika. 50 Jahre Amerikaner in Rheinland-Pfalz (Trier, Germany, 1995).
Hofmann, Daniel. Truppenstationierung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Die Vertragsverhandlungen mit den Westmächten 1951–1959 (Munich, 1997).
Höhn, Maria. “‘Heimat’ in Turmoil: African-American GIs in 1950s West Germany,” in The Miracle Years: A Cultural History of West Germany, 1949–1968, ed. Hanna Schissler (Princeton, NJ, 2001), 145–63.
Höhn, Maria.. GIs and Fräuleins: The German-American Encounter in 1950s West Germany (Chapel Hill, NC, 2002).
Höhn, Maria, and Martin Klimke. A Breath of Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany (New York, 2010).
Höhn, Maria, and Seungsook Moon, eds. Over There: Living with the U.S. Military Empire from World War Two to the Present (Durham, NC, 2010).
Kleinschmidt, Johannes. “Besatzer und Deutsche: Schwarze GIs nach 1945,” American Studies 40 (1995): 647–65.
Kleinschmidt, Johannes. “Do Not Fraternize.” Die schwierigen Anfänge der deutsch-amerikanischen Freundschaft 1944–1949 (Trier, Germany, 1997).
Krieger, Wolfgang. General Lucius D. Clay und die amerikanische Deutschlandpolitik, 1945–1949 (Stuttgart, Germany, 1987).
Krieger, Wolfgang. “Die Ursprünge der langfristigen Stationierung amerikanischer Streitkräfte in Europa 1945–1951,” in Vom Marshallplan zur EWG: Die Eingliederung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in die westliche Welt, ed. Ludolf Herbst, Werner Bührer, and Hanno Sowade (Munich, 1990), 373–98.
Lanning, Josef, Hans-Josef Legrand, and Helmut Zander, eds. Friedensbewegungen. Entwicklung und Folgen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Europa und den USA (Cologne, Germany, 1987).
Leuerer, Thomas. Die Stationierung amerikanischer Streitkräfte in Deutschland (Würzburg, Germany, 1998).
Little, Monroe, Jr.The Black Military Experience in Germany: From the First World War to the Present,” in Crosscurrents: African-Americans, Africa, and Germany in the Modern World, ed. David McBride, Leroy Hopkins, and C. Aisha Blackshire-Belay (Columbia, SC, 1998), 177–96.
Lutz, Catherine, ed. The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against U.S. Military Posts (New York, 2009).
Mahncke, Dieter, ed. Amerikaner in Deutschland: Grundlagen und Bedingungen der transatlantischen Sicherheit (Bonn, Germany, 1991).
Mai, Gunther. “Dominanz oder Kooperation im Bündnis? Die Sicherheitspolitik der USA und der Verteidigungsbeitrag Europas 1945–1956,” Historische Zeitschrift 246 (1988): 327–64.
Maier, Klaus A.The Federal Republic of Germany as a ‘Battlefield’ in American Nuclear Strategy, 1953–1955,” in American Policy and the Reconstruction of West Germany, 1945–1955, ed. Jeffry M. Diefendorf, Axel Frohn, and Hermann-Josef Rupieper (New York, 1993), 398–402.
Mako, William P. U.S. Ground Forces and the Defense of Central Europe (Washington, DC, 1983).
Maulucci, Thomas W., Jr.Die Regierung Schmidt und die Frage der ‘Out of Area’ – Einsätze der Bundeswehr, 1974–1982,” in Deutschland und die USA in der Internationalen Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Festschrift für Detlef Junker. Transatlantische Historische Studien 18, ed. Manfred Berg and Philipp Gassert (Stuttgart, Germany, 2004), 521–41.
Merritt, Richard L. Democracy Imposed: U.S. Occupation Policy and the German Public, 1945–1949 (New Haven, CT, 1995).
Nelson, Daniel J. A History of U.S. Military Forces in Germany (Boulder, CO, 1987a).
Nelson, Daniel J.. Defenders or Intruders? The Dilemmas of U.S. Forces in Germany (Boulder, CO, 1987b).
Pehlke, Michael. Die Souveränität der Bundesrepublik Deutschland im westlichen Bündnis. Historische und aktuelle Aspekte (Munich, 1994).
Pence, Katherine. “The ‘Fräuleins’ Meet the ‘Amis’: Americanization of German Women in the Reconstruction of the West German State,” Michigan Feminist Studies 7 (1992–3): 83–108.
Peterson, Edward N. The American Occupation of Germany: Retreat to Victory (Detroit, MI, 1978).
Plappert, Reiner. “‘Es ist damit eine grosse Last auf uns gekommen’ – Die rheinland-pfälzische Landesregierung und die Stationierung der amerikanischen Streitkräfte in der ersten Hälfte der fünfziger Jahre,” Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen 56 (1997): 377–98.
Plassmann, Max. “Manöverschäden und die deutsch-amerikanischen Beziehungen in der Pfalz (1951–1955),” Militärrgeschichtliche Mitteilungen 56 (1997): 399–430.
Raap, Christian. Die Souveränität der Bundesrepublik Deutschland unter besonderer Berücksichtugung des militärischen Bereichs und der deutschen Einheit (Frankfurt, 1992).
Rumpf, Helmut. Das Recht der Truppenstationierung in der Bundesrepublik (Karlsruhe, Germany, 1969).
Sandars, Christopher T. America's Overseas Garrisons: The Leasehold Empire (Oxford, 2000).
Sarro, Christopher A. The Economic Hardships of the American GI in West-Germany (Cambridge, MA, 1978).
Scharnholz, Theodor. Heidelberg und die Besatzungsmacht. Zur Entwicklung der Beziehungen zwischen einer deutschen Kommune und ihrer amerikanischen Garnison (1948/49–1955) (Heidelberg, Germany, 2002).
Schraut, Hans-Jürgen. Vom Besatzer zum Beschützer: Der Wandel der Militär-strategie der USA und die Präsenz amerikanischer Streitkräfte in Deutschland 1945–1953 (Neuried, Germany, 1994).
Seiler, Signe. Die GIs. Amerikanische Soldaten in Deutschland (Reinbek bei Hamburg, Germany, 1985).
Sharp, Jane M. O., ed. Europe after an American Withdrawal: Economic and Military Issues (Oxford, 1990).
Smith, Jean Edward, ed. Papers of General Lucius D. Clay: Germany, 1945–1949. 2 vols. (Bloomington, IN, 1974).
Smith, Jean Edward,. Lucius D. Clay: An American Life (New York, 1990).
Spoo, Eckhart, ed. Die Amerikaner in der Bundesrepublik: Besatzungsmacht oder Bündnispartner? (Cologne, Germany, 1989).
Stange, Sabine. Kriesgvorbereitung im Hunsrück: Der Einfluß der Raketenstationierung auf den Alltag der Menschen (Fulda, Germany, 1985).
Thoß, Bruno. “The Presence of American Troops in Germany and German American Relations, 1949–1956,” in American Policy and the Reconstruction of West Germany, 1945–1955, ed. Jeffry M. Diefendorf, Axel Frohn, and Hermann-Josef Rupieper (New York, 1993), 411–32.
van Sweringen, Bryan T.Variable Architechtures for War and Peace: U.S. Force Structure and Basing in Germany, 1945–1990,” in The United States and Germany in the Era of the Cold War: A Handbook, vol. 1, 1945–1968, ed. Detlef Junker (Cambridge, 2004), 217–24.
Waibel, Dieter. Von der wohlwollenden Despotie zur Herrschaft des Rechts: Entwicklungsstufen der amerikanischen Besatzung Deutschlands 1944–1949 (Tübingen, Germany, 1996).
Weisz, Christoph, ed. OMGUS-Handbuch. Die amerikanische Militärregierung in Deutschland 1945–1949. Quellen und Darstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte, vol. 35 (Munich, 1994).
Willoughby, John. Remaking the Conquering Heroes: The Social and Geopolitical Impact of the Post-War American Occupation of Germany (New York, 2001).
Wolfe, Robert, ed. Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Government in Germany and Japan, 1944–1952 (Carbondale, IL, 1984).
Woller, Hans. Gesellschaft und Politk in der amerikanischen Besatzungszone: Die Region Ansbach und Fuerth. Quellen und Darstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte, vol. 25 (Munich, 1986).
Yeo, Andrew. Activist, Alliances, and Anti-US Base Protests (Cambridge, 2011).
Ziemke, Earl K. The US Army in the Occupation of Germany, 1944–1949 (Washington, DC, 1975).
Zimmermann, Hubert. “Franz-Josef Strauß und der deutsch-amerikanische Währungskonflikt in den sechziger Jahren,” Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitges-chichte 47 (1999): 57–85.
Zimmermann, Hubert. Money and Security: Troops, Monetary Policy and West Germany's Relations with the United States and Britain, 1950–1971 (Cambridge, 2002).
Zimmermann, Hubert. “The Improbable Permanence of a Commitment: America's Troop Presence in Europe during the Cold War,” Journal of Cold War Studies 11 (Winter 2009): 3–27.
Zink, Harold. The United States in Germany, 1944–1955 (Princeton, NJ, 1957).

Web Site

The German Historical Institute, Washington, DC, the Heidelberg Center for America Studies at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and Vassar College, “The Civil Rights Struggle: African-American GIs and Germany,” (accessed December 4, 2011).