Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany


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CAPTURING THE GERMAN EYE: AMERICAN VISUAL PROPAGANDA IN OCCUPIED GERMANY BY CORA SOL GOLDSTEIN

Once Germany was occupied, the U. Army, and then OMGUS, conducted a massive campaign of iconoclasm targeted at eliminating the legacy of the Nazi regime from the visual realm.

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Visual remnants of the Nazi era—paintings, monuments, statues, emblems, and military symbols— were eliminated from public view. This was a campaign of radical visual censorship. Moreover, the U. Entertainment was a secondary concern; the priority was to introduce new political conceptions and normative values to the occupied population. The Nazis had eliminated modern art from museums and used their own art as political and ideological propaganda.

The Soviets, for their part, entered Germany with a blueprint for cultural warfare already in place. The War Department, which directly controlled OMGUS, was indifferent to the concept of international cultural warfare and failed to appreciate the importance of cultural politics in the postwar German context. They relied on personal contacts, informal networks, and covert funding of cultural organizations. The American visual propaganda policy in occupied Germany was shaped by two factors: the fear of alienating the German population and the constraints imposed by American domestic politics.

In seeking to make the American message credible, but to avoid antagonizing the Germans, OMGUS gradually reduced its atrocity propaganda campaign. OMGUS policies were also affected by the end of the fragile and unstable wartime alliance between the American right and the American left. In a newly elected Republican-dominated Congress pushed American domestic politics to the right.

Congress, this shift in American politics conditioned its response to Soviet anti-American offensives on two key propaganda issues—race and modernism in art. This evolution culminated in the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency in The CIA 6 Introduction was endowed with the triple responsibility of gathering and analyzing foreign intelligence, carrying out covert offensive operations, and designing and projecting psychological warfare campaigns abroad.


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Simultaneously, MID lobbied the U. Congress to limit the growing ethnic diversity of the nation, which it considered to be a strategic danger.

Congress, and with the leaders of the American eugenics and anti-immigration movements. MID also launched a disinformation campaign to disseminate anti-Semitic and anticommunist propaganda. Its experts on Germany concluded that the Nazis were preparing to wage war against the East, not the West, and saw no threat to the United States. The civilian contingent Introduction 7 formed a highly heterogeneous group in terms of national origin, social class, and expertise.

The OSS was charged with three tasks: the collection and analysis of foreign political, psychological, sociological, and economic data; the development of an American psychological warfare program against the Axis powers; and the design and implementation of covert operations in Nazi-occupied Europe. Army were at best strained. Major General George V. Special Operations carried out missions in enemy-occupied territory, ranging from sabotage to morale operation plans.

Foreign Nationalities used anti-Axis immigrant groups based in the United States to wage political warfare abroad. Secret Intelligence, modeled after the British Secret Intelligence Service, was in charge of spying and counterintelligence. Research and Analysis, headed by William Langer, was mostly staffed by university professors and lawyers working on research projects.

Langer had a staff of approximately nine hundred scholars, including prominent historians, economists, political scientists, geographers, psychologists, and anthropologists. Rostow, Edward Shils, H. They also embodied everything that MID most distrusted and feared.

Article excerpt

In , at the peak of its power, the OSS employed nearly thirteen thousand men and women. McCloy was interested in the Nazi concept of Weltanschauungskrieg, the use of psychological actions including terror and propaganda to control populations, both domestic and foreign.

Your Job in Germany

McCloy believed that the American experience in peacetime propaganda—political and commercial—could be used in wartime to manipulate the domestic front and to weaken the resolve of the enemy. During the war, the control and execution of psychological warfare was displaced from Washington, D. When General Dwight D. He also employed civilians with a penchant for intelligence, even if they lacked formal training in psychological warfare. The objective of this effort was to persuade German civilians and soldiers to obey the orders issued by the Allied occupation and abandon any illusion of resisting the invading forces.

As soon as Germany was occupied, the sykewarriors became involved in information control. They disassembled the remains of the Nazi propaganda apparatus, and began their own propaganda agenda. The American occupation of Germany Defeat sunk Germany into a humanitarian quagmire. The economy was crippled, there were few consumer goods, the Ger- 10 Introduction man currency had ceased to exist, and cigarettes became the true unit of monetary exchange.

Public transportation was in ruins, as were the communication networks. Five million Germans who had inhabited the former eastern territories had to be accommodated in an area that was one-third smaller than pre Germany. Millions of people were homeless or lived in ruined houses, facing devastating shortages of coal, gas, and electricity.

Biblio Anglo-American-Soviet Cultural Rape and Looting of Germany

The food supply was minimal, the population was famished, and the winter of — was particularly harsh. After the defeat of the Third Reich, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation. There were approximately twenty-six million Germans in the American zone, a similar number in the Soviet zone, twenty-two million in the British zone, and close to six million in the French zone.

The largest cities in the U. Berlin was divided into sectors. The Soviet sector had the largest population with over a million people; the American sector had just under a million, the British sector six hundred thousand, and the French sector four hundred thousand. An Allied Control Council had authority over the country as a whole, but each supreme military commander had executive power in his zone.

Although the U. Army had had some experience in military government in Cuba and the Philippines, no military government in the history of the United States had confronted the political complexities that OMGUS managed on a daily basis between and In contrast, Henry Morgenthau Jr. Its success in imposing new values depends, in large part, on maintaining a monopoly of violence. Force is needed to guarantee law and order, and to make possible the control and manipulation of information in the occupied area. Carl J.

Literature and Film in the British and American Zones of Occupied Germany, 1945-1949

Friedrich acknowledged that OMGUS censored and repressed but claimed that it did so to constrain antidemocratic elements. In the American military government allowed the German population very limited freedom and exerted an unprecedented degree of political control.

CAPTURING THE GERMAN EYE: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany

No political activities of any kind shall be countenanced unless authorized by you. You will prohibit the propagation in any form of Nazi, 12 Introduction militaristic, or pan-German doctrine. No German parades, military or political, civilian or sport, shall be permitted. Within these limits, the Americans did encourage German political life.

OMGUS established competitive political parties and an independent judiciary and fostered grassroots political organizations. Time was of the essence.


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Clay wanted to restore German self-government as soon as possible because, he believed, the mood at home would make a long and expensive military occupation impossible. Army and the American military government, and to generate a current of public opinion favorable to the American agenda. On the other, it tried to introduce the principles of liberal democracy that the Americans associated with their political system. The negative policy was based on censorship and suppression. ICD personnel screened and vetted authors, playwrights, journalists, artists, museum curators, art dealers, producers, actors, and directors, and excluded those Introduction 13 deemed politically tainted by their Nazi past.

Films that portrayed the United States in anything but a good light were not shown. Neither General Eisenhower nor General Clay were particularly interested in cultural affairs, nor were they personally involved in German cultural life. Some were German exiles and expatriates, and others were American scholars versed in German Kultur. Politics and culture in Soviet-occupied Germany In the Soviets, like the Americans, talked about bringing democracy to Germany.

The Soviet military government and German Communists returning from exile in Moscow, professed a commitment to establishing the foundations of an antifascist and democratic Germany. The Communists 14 Introduction interpreted Nazism as a product of advanced capitalism, and claimed that if postwar Germany embraced the Western capitalist model of society, it would return to fascism.

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According to Soviet propaganda, the emergence of a new German culture—anti-Nazi, anticapitalist, and socialist—was the key to the moral, ideological, and political regeneration of Germany. For the Communists, a truly democratic Germany could only emerge in the framework of political, economic, and cultural integration with the USSR.

Unlike the Americans, the Soviets considered the cultural renewal of Germany essential to the process of political transformation. The Soviets saw culture as a political weapon and considered the work of intellectuals and artists essential to the construction of a new society. In fact, the Soviets had begun planning the organization of the German cultural apparatus even before the fall of Berlin in May The survivors, hard-core Stalinists and seasoned politicians with extensive contacts in their homeland, returned to Germany with the Red Army.

Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany
Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany
Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany
Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany
Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany
Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany
Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany

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