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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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The following study is a result of my dissertation presented to the Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Wuppertal in the summer of 2012. There are a great number of individuals to whom I am very grateful and without their help this work would not have been possible. Firstly, I would like express my thanks to Professor Bazon Brock for his breadth of knowledge, analytical mind and support. I am also indebted to the Deutsche Akademischer Austausch Dienst for their financial backing towards the end of this project. Various program directors of the America Houses, who provided the initial interviews, were of great help. These were Dr. Gerhard Wiesinger in Frankfurt, Bernd A. Herbert in Cologne, Renate Semler in Berlin and Dr. Christoph Peters in Munich. I would also like to thank Professor Rainer K. Wick, whose knowledge in art education and of Bauhaus was immensely beneficial. My deepest admiration goes out to Victoria Sheppard, of Merle & Sheppard, for her editing work on this project. Heide Kley and Lore Wolf literarily opened their homes and offices, providing the physical space necessary to complete such a project. Finally, I would like to thank Roger Wrighton, Anthony and Alexander who supported me in this project and my parents, Len and Sharon Hooper whose encouragement made this possible.

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