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The Kaiserslautern Borderland

Reverberations of the American Leasehold Empire


Jörg Zorbach

The area around the German city of Kaiserslautern – or K-Town in American parlance – is home to approximately 50,000 Americans who live within the Kaiserslautern Military Community, the largest organized settlement of American citizens outside the U.S.A. This book comprises the first study to use the concept of the border in order to analyze this bi-national encounter of otherwise transatlantic neighbors. Presenting thick descriptions of the geographical, legal, political, economic and cultural contexts of this German-American borderland, the author highlights similarities and differences to conventional international border situations and elucidates the impact of the special temporal and spatial circumstances on the contact region.
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3. The Legal Borderland


3.The Legal Borderland

In addition to the description of geographical space, the issue of jurisdiction is an important aspect of the borderland description, as it represents a means of mapping the legal space of the Kaiserslautern area. According to this focus, the perspective on the legal basis of the American forces’ status on German territory is a selective one. It does not intend to cover the legal regulations of the presence of foreign forces in Germany in its entirety, but aims at providing an overview which casts light on relevant aspects that help to describe the character of the German-American contact space in the Kaiserslautern area. In contrast to a comprehensive legal study, the chapter should be understood as the analysis of a specific borderland context which derives from particular legal circumstances. The definition of space via the legal framework’s modalities will be in the focus of this analysis.

The organization of the chapter starts with an initial explanation of the basic legal constellation. Subsequently, an outline of the applying contractual and legal framework will be provided. In a consecutive step, the description of the special status created by the privileges contained in the applying legal provisions will be explained. Thereafter, the core content of the regulations (jurisdiction, policing, and territorial administration) that have a particular impact on the character of the contact space will be highlighted. The thus sketched legal landscape of the American military presence in the Kaiserslautern area will then be incorporated into...

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