In the aftermath of the Second World War, Germany found itself defeated, destroyed, occupied, and ultimately divided. The eastern portion of Germany fell under Soviet administration, while the western part came under joint occupation by the three victorious western Allies (the United States, the United Kingdom, and France). Recognizing at an early date that rebuilding Germany would promote political stability, economic growth, and peace in central Europe, the western Allies set out to reconstruct the defeated nation. The schools were an important part of this project. Many observers argued that without substantial reform to the educational system, German nationalism, militarism, and xenophobia might once again lead to conflict. In the western zones, particularly in the American zone, democratizing the schools took on great importance by 1947. This effort, however, was short-lived. The occupation of Germany ended in 1949, leaving many Americans with the sense that school reform was incomplete.