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Author of the Month: April 2009

Published: April 15, 2009

Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany

Cora Goldstein, Associate Professor, Political Science

Published by the University of Chicago Press, Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany recounts the complicated and often contradictory role that visual culture (from propaganda films about the Holocaust to satirical journals) played in the reeducation of the West Germans from 1945-49. Goldstein compares American and Soviet propaganda and cultural policies in Germany, using as a backdrop the Nazi cultural agenda. Capturing the German Eye is concerned with military occupation and the transition from dictatorship to democracy. Goldstein focuses her study on the role of visual images in this transition. One of the book’s highlights is how modernist art came back to West Germany after Hitler’s iconoclastic campaign. Goldstein shows how cultural wars in the U.S., especially concerning race and modernism, impacted American policies in postwar German. Goldstein traces the shift in American policy from the early confrontation policy aimed at inducing German guilt, to a policy of rapprochement. “American visual propaganda began with the liberation of Nazi death camps,” she recalled. “The U.S. Army brought Germans living near the liberated concentration camps to tour the sites of torture, incarceration, and murder. This was as much visual punishment as it was visual indoctrination. The purpose of this policy was to show the Germans that they had supported a criminal regime and therefore deserved to be occupied. When the Americans stepped away from this policy of confrontation, images of the camps began to be used less and less in American propaganda. Starting in 1947, the Americans produced movies that highlighted German-American collaboration.” Goldstein received the Mary Parker Follett Award from the American Political Science Association’s Politics and History Section in 2007 for her article “Before the CIA: American Actions in the German Fine Arts (1946-1949)” published in Diplomatic History. She received her B.A. from UC Berkeley and her M.A. and Ph.D. (in 2002) from the University of Chicago. Goldstein joined the Department of Political Science at CSULB in 2002.

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