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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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On May 19, 2011, US President, Barack Obama, delivered an address about the newly emerging Arab democracies and the US policy in the Middle East.1 Pledging economic support, the concept of economic development was nevertheless a secondary factor in the President’s plan for encouraging positive change in the region. The President’s speech had started with the need to uphold human rights2 and advance political reforms in this area. His main focus on civil rights and democracy is the integral American philosophy rooted in E Pluribus Unum.3 This Latin expression, found on the Great Seal of the United States means “one from many,” is innately intertwined with supporting civil liberties and a democratic system. These essential principles form “the one” while respecting the individual differences of “the many.” Essentially a guiding light for America, this basic notion shapes peaceful co-existence especially where differences abound. In emerging democracies, such differences pose a constant threat to the order of government. Left unsupported the possibility exists that democracy will not establish permanence in these countries. Thus, it is essential that firmly established democracies aid and support these countries in developing their own democratic roots.

Economic support, as promised by President Obama is only one means to guarantee political reforms. It is clear that without economic stability emerging democracies will suffer. The punitive economic measures that took place in Germany after World War One (WWI), as outlined in the Treaty of Versailles (1919) ← 9 | 10 → combined with the world financial crisis...

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