Although historical similarities between post-war West Germany and Japan cannot be overestimated, a parallel reflection on the long-lasting cultural influence of the Unites States on both defeated and occupied countries could open stimulating opportunities for research beyond national specificities. As a starting point, in fact, the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan shared a common condition of “penetrated systems” (according to a popular German definition) after the conclusion of the war; a state implying that “decisive allocations of values were steered from outside their boundaries”. This paper aims at proposing some possible ground for comparative analyses through an overview of the recent German historiographical debate. The perception of American influence has been discussed in Germany since the early XX century, as a recurrent subject of wishful or dreadful thinking. Nevertheless the events of the 1990s cast new interest on this topic in historical perspective. For reasons stemming from the German geopolitical specificity, the end of the Cold War and the reunification of the country entailed a reassessment of the country’s self-perception in the international arena. This collective reflection was also fostered by highly symbolic events such as the first deployment of German military forces abroad since the end of the Second World War (during the NATO bombing over Serbia), and the fiftieth anniversary of the Federal Republic in 1999. Later, further inspiration came from the abrupt end of Post-Cold War triumphalism as a consequence of the September 11 events, and especially from the Transatlantic rift that occurred about military intervention in Iraq: in that case and for the first time, the German government, one of Washington’s most loyal partner in the past, voiced its opposition to the U.S. resolution to wage war, protesting the incoherence of “preemptive” and “total” war with Western values. Even more striking, this opposition paid electoral dividends to the German government, thus proving that a vast majority of German voters shared the opinion of their government against the Bush Administration: an attitude which some worried observers hastened to label as rampant “Anti-American”.

Occupation, Americanization, Westernization: Lessons from the German Case?

Bernardini, Giovanni
2014

Abstract

Although historical similarities between post-war West Germany and Japan cannot be overestimated, a parallel reflection on the long-lasting cultural influence of the Unites States on both defeated and occupied countries could open stimulating opportunities for research beyond national specificities. As a starting point, in fact, the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan shared a common condition of “penetrated systems” (according to a popular German definition) after the conclusion of the war; a state implying that “decisive allocations of values were steered from outside their boundaries”. This paper aims at proposing some possible ground for comparative analyses through an overview of the recent German historiographical debate. The perception of American influence has been discussed in Germany since the early XX century, as a recurrent subject of wishful or dreadful thinking. Nevertheless the events of the 1990s cast new interest on this topic in historical perspective. For reasons stemming from the German geopolitical specificity, the end of the Cold War and the reunification of the country entailed a reassessment of the country’s self-perception in the international arena. This collective reflection was also fostered by highly symbolic events such as the first deployment of German military forces abroad since the end of the Second World War (during the NATO bombing over Serbia), and the fiftieth anniversary of the Federal Republic in 1999. Later, further inspiration came from the abrupt end of Post-Cold War triumphalism as a consequence of the September 11 events, and especially from the Transatlantic rift that occurred about military intervention in Iraq: in that case and for the first time, the German government, one of Washington’s most loyal partner in the past, voiced its opposition to the U.S. resolution to wage war, protesting the incoherence of “preemptive” and “total” war with Western values. Even more striking, this opposition paid electoral dividends to the German government, thus proving that a vast majority of German voters shared the opinion of their government against the Bush Administration: an attitude which some worried observers hastened to label as rampant “Anti-American”.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11582/269221
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