Adenauer swears in the first recruits to the West Germany army (Bundeswehr), May 5, 1955

UCSB Hist 133c, L11:
West Germany in the 1950s:
3 more Rs

lecture on Feb. 3, 2006 (L09; L12)

by Professor Harold Marcuse (homepage)
created Feb. 9, 2006, updated 2/13/06

Invisible Woman

Introduction (back to top)

  • In this lecture I presented material that indicated some of the ways that legacies from the Nazi era affected the course of West German history in the 1950s.
  • After discussing economic recovery (the prerequisite to all other events of the 1950s), I added some more "Rs" to the two main Rs of the Potsdam Conference (namely reparations & reeducation)

Reconstruction: The European Recovery Program (ERP) (back to top)

  • March 1947: Truman Doctrine (full text of Truman's speech at Yale/Avalon)
  • Marshall Plan baloon poster
    Marshall Plan Poster: A balloon with the text "free world" sails over Europe. The heading reads 'Peace, Freedom, Prosperity'
    Soviet cartoon about Marshall Plan
    A Soviet cartoon depicts a capitalist using a $ club to smash signs and border fences labelled 'sovereignty'
  • June 1947: US Secretary of State George Marshall announces aid plan for Europe in a Harvard University commencement speech. Why?
    "Our policy is not directed against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist."
  • Feb 48: Soviet-backed coup in Prague (Cold War heats up)
  • Apr. 48: US Congress passes Economic Cooperation Act
  • June 48: currency reform in occupied Germany; aid begins to flow
  • Dec. 51: ERP ends 6 months early
    $13.3 billion total to Europe
    ($1.4 bio.=11% of total went to West Germany, which had already received $1.7bio. prior to 1949)
    • 70% of total used to buy raw materials from US suppliers
    • local gov't deposited local currency
    • US directed reinvestment (30% currency for loans)
    • Germany still uses "counterpart fund"
    • coopted elites, bought off populace
  • (Re-)integration into Western bloc

Renazification (back to top)

  • 2 meanings (like denazification): physical return of former Nazis; mental return of Nazi mindset
  • 3 prerequisites
    • laundering of reputation of individuals ("denazification laundry" of L8)
    • need for elite expertise to achieve Cold War aims (economic and international politics)
    • a mechanism to reinstate once-removed officials
  • Dec. 1949 amnesty for crimes punishable with less than 6 months imprisonment
  • Article 131 of the Basic Law: governed the rights of civil servants (full text of Art. 131)
    • 1951 law made reinstatement of Nazi officials possible
    • 1954 law introduced a minimum quota system (must hire at least x% Nazis)
    • Statistics (higher proportions than during the Nazi era itself!)
      • 1952: 85% of Foreign Office (State Department) were former Nazi Party members
      • 1956: 24% of political elites were former active supporters of Nazism
                  19% of elites were former opponents of Nazism

Rearmament (back to top)First Bundeswehr soldiers, 1955

  • 1950 turnaround: Korean War
  • Adenauer vs. Schumacher (SPD) & Niemoeller (int'l moral figure)
  • Heinemann (Min. Justice; Protestant CDU), resigned, but too late to make a difference
  • Deal with trade unions: co-determination
  • 1952: European Defense Community
  • 1955: Germany joins NATO (5/5/55)

Refugees (back to top)Refugees at the Friedland camp, ca. 1955

  • Equalization of Burdens Law
    • "greatest tax on wealth in German history": 50%
    • paid over 30 years
    • used for grants & pensions for expellees and other war casualties

Discussion of Hügel-Marshall, Invisible Woman cover of Hugel-Marshall, Invisible Woman (back to top)

  • life in the Bavarian village
  • foster home and school
    • Sister Hildegard
  • training as a social worker
  • placement as a social worker
  • friends in the German feminist movement
    • p. 98f: "As a black woman, I feel that our struggle for equality against sexism and oppression has overlooked the problem of racism. All eyes are on me…
      ' Come on, you know we're different from other women. How could we, as feminists, have anything against blacks? If you have a specific proplem to raise, okay, but try to leave skin color out of it.'
      'Being white, we can't judge whether you percieve us as racist. If you think about it that way, it's actually you who determines what is and isn't racism.'
      And thus they cast themselves as my victims, wronged by my harsh judgment. I'm the one holding the reins while all these white feminists tremble before me."
  • quest to find her father

prepared for web by Harold Marcuse, Feb. 9, 2006, updated: see header
previous lecture:
9+10: Causes of Division & 1953   | next lecture: 12: Berlin Wall
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