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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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5. Conclusion and Results

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In the twenty-first century, the historical example of the America Houses serves as a reminder that re-education is one of the best methods for newly emerging democracies to achieve permanent change. Merely establishing democratic structures is a poor tool to anchor democracy. As dictatorships become democracies, the fundamental political orientation must be sustained through a corresponding change in a population’s belief system. Therefore, supporting re-education can ensure the long-term survival of democracy as a system of choice. Considering the importance of re-education, this dissertation has focused on the America Houses in Western Germany as essential components of America’s post-war contribution to Germany’s re-education efforts. Though post-war re-education efforts are considered to have taken place between 1945 and the end of the Military Government in 1949, this dissertation has demonstrated that re-education continued significantly longer than previously regarded,944 reinforcing the fact that re-education, like education itself, is an intricate process requiring financial support, engagement and time.

In the English-speaking world very little has been written on the America House program in Western Germany;945 additionally, German literature does not focus on re-education. This dissertation brings together both elements and considers re-education and the America Houses from a more comprehensive angle. It delves into the Houses historical background and includes the purpose-specific buildings designed in the 1950s. Moreover, it highlights the extensive support and involvement that the American Government contributed to promote re-education in Western Germany under the umbrella of culture in the America Houses.946 The extensive...

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