A Breath of Freedom The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-09-15
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
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This moving and beautifully illustrated book, developed from an award-winning research project, examines the experience of African-American GIs in Germany since 1945 and the unique insights they provide into the civil rights struggle at home and abroad. Because of the American military occupation after World War II, America's unresolved civil rights agenda was exposed to world-wide scrutiny as never before. America's ambitious efforts to democratize German society after the defeat of Nazism also meant that West Germany was exposed to American ideas of freedom and democracy to a much larger degree than many other countries.The politicization and radicalization of African-American GIs over civil rights took on a particular significance in light of Germany's central role in US strategic thinking and its symbolic importance as the battle ground between two competing superpowers. While the effects of the African-American Civil Rights Movement reverberated across the globe, Germany represents a special case that illuminates a remarkable period in American and world history.

Author Biography

Maria Höhn teaches German history at Vassar College, and is an established scholar of the American military presence in Germany.

Martin Klimke is a historian and research fellow at the German Historical Institute, Washington, DC and the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) at Heidelberg University, Germany.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Forewordp. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xix
List of Abbreviationsp. xxv
Introductionp. 1
Closing Ranks: World War I and the Rise of Hitlerp. 7
Fighting on Two Fronts: World War II and Civil Rightsp. 21
"We Will Never Go Back to the Old Way Again": African American GIs and the Occupation of Germanyp. 39
Setting the Stage for Brown: Integrating the Military in Germanyp. 63
Bringing Civil Rights to East and West: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Cold War Berlinp. 89
Revolutionary Alliances: The Rise of Black Powerp. 107
Heroes of the Other America: East German Solidarity with the African American Freedom Strugglep. 123
A Call for Justice: The Racial Crisis in the Military and the GI Movementp. 143
Conclusionp. 171
Notesp. 177
Bibliographyp. 225
Indexp. 247
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