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Designing Democracy

Re-education and the America Houses (1945–1961)- The American Information Centers and their Involvement in Democratic Re-education in Western Germany and West Berlin from 1945 to 1961

Kathleen Hooper

How can firmly established democracies aid and support emerging democracies? Historically, where has this been done? This book looks at the American Information Centers and their involvement in democratic re-education in Western Germany and West Berlin from 1945 to 1961. Referred to as America Houses in Germany, this thesis argues that these institutions continued re-education much longer on a subtle level and were one of the few influencing, yet powerful tools that America had at its disposal to guide democracy. Considering the fact that these Houses were financed with American taxpayer dollars, it remains astounding that so little has been written about them in English to date. This publication seeks to provide unique insights into this fascinating time in US history.
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2. America Houses - Detailed

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2.1 Strategy and America House Objectives

In his book Strategic Management, Joe G. Thomas defines strategy as “an organization’s activities and plans designed (1) to match the organization’s objectives with its mission, and (2) to match the organization’s mission with its environment in an efficient and effective manner.”232 Viewing the US Government’s post-war involvement in Western Germany, the overall mission was one of promoting peace and stability under the umbrella of democracy. Considering the strategy used to aid this mission, the America Houses were just a small part of the various plans and activities within this overall approach. More importantly, the objectives set for the Houses themselves at the start give a clear indication that even though the term democratic re-education was not used, all of these objectives were clearly meant to aid America’s re-education efforts in Germany. Directive 111 was issued in August 1946 regarding the Information Centers.233 It listed five objectives for the America Houses. To obtain a better understanding of the America Houses and their re-education efforts, each of these five objectives has been considered individually. This sub-chapter analyses these five objectives in detail and the underlying message(s) that were communicated regarding re-education.

Objective one: “To acquaint the German people, especially German writers, editors, publishers, radio personnel, artists, scientists, teachers and other professionals, with the published record of American life and intellectual development.”234

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