"Holding down the Fort?" The War Historical Cooperation of the U.S. Army and Former German Wehrmacht Officers, 1945-1961 Open Access

Krug, Esther-Julia (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/h702q696z?locale=en


"Holding down the Fort?" The War Historical Cooperation of the U.S. Army and
Former German Wehrmacht Officers, 1945-1961
By Esther-Julia Krug
In July 1945 the U.S. War Department sent a special historical interrogation mission to
Europe to interview high-ranking German prisoners of war with the goal to achieve a
more accurate understanding of the war and the circumstances leading up to it. After this
so-called Shuster Commission finished its work, the U.S. Army's Historical Section in the
European Theater of Operations (ETO) picked up the idea and in January 1946 created
the Operational History (German) Section to organize and oversee the interrogation of
hundreds of high-ranking German officers and General Staff officers. Soon, the Germans
not only answered questionnaires, but also received specific topics to compile historical
studies on their own. Released from their prisoner of war and civilian internee status
respectively in 1947 and 1948, many continued to work for the U.S. Army from their
homes as civilian employees. Against the background of increasing tensions between the
United States and the Soviet Union the U.S. military soon found a particular interest in
the German officers' first-hand experience with the Soviet Union in general and the Red
Army specifically. Until 1961, this remarkable cooperation produced more than 2,500
military studies on a variety of strategic, tactical, technical, and military-political
questions, at times involving over 600 former German officers.
This thesis attempts to trace the origins and the organizational development of this
remarkable cooperation between the U.S. Army and former German Wehrmacht officers.
Moreover, it raises questions for specific goals and agendas, which the U.S. Army as well
as the German participants associated with the project. The thesis examines the specific
character of the relationships between German and American officers and how these
developed and changed over the course of their cooperation. The analysis of the German-
American history project also sheds light on transnational aspects of a selective exposure
to war memory, its ideological spin and political exploitation, and the parameters of the
postwar and emerging Cold War mentality in both West Germany and the United States.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

I) Introduction 1
1. The Topic -- A Rapprochement to its Explanatory Potential 1
2. Current State of Research 6
2.1 Cultural Cold War History and the new Paradigm of ‘Westernization' 6
2.2 German-American Military Contacts 10
2.3 Politics of War Memory 12
3. Sources 15
II) Origins and Development of the German-American War History Project 19
1. Initiation 1945 19
1.1 The Development of official American War History: A short Overview 19
1.2 The Shuster Commission 23
1.3 Paving the Way: Kenneth W. Hechler's Interrogations in the Summer of 1945 27
1.4 St. Germain: Winning the Doubters 31
2. Transformation and Extension: From Oberursel to Neustadt (1946-1948) 35
2.1 Transition from St. Germain to Oberursel 35
2.2 Allendorf and Garmisch
2.3 Neustadt: Operation STAPLE, Denazification and Hiring as Civilian Employees 42
Excursus: Morale and Amenities 49
3. Entering a new Stage: The Control Group 54
4. Phase Out and Termination 56
III) The Hidden Agendas of the Historical Cooperation 58
1. "To Raise a Monument for our Troops" - or: Restoring the Image of the German Officer 61
2. Brothers in Arms: The Utilization of German Military Knowledge 66
2.1 Gathering Information on the new Enemy 66
2.2 Lessons to be Learned: German Studies as Training Material and Resource for Doctrine Development
2.3 Injecting German Military Thought into the U.S. Army
3. Competing Interests 83
3.1 Conflict with the War Crimes Branch 85
3.2 Conflict with the Military Government
3.3 Public Criticism
IV) Holding down the Fort? Personal and Ideological Rapprochements 104
1. The Role of Transnational Networks 104
1.1 The Cooperation of the Reichswehr and the U.S. Army during the Interwar Period 104
1.2 American Encounters with Germany
2. Reciprocal Perceptions 113
2.1 General Perceptions of Germany 113
2.2 An International Club of "Chivalrous" Military Professionals: German-American Encounters within the Historical Division
3. An Agency of Articulation: The Role of the Historical Division in Shaping the Memory of World War II 120
3.1 Memory-construction in the German-American War Historical Cooperation 120
3.2 Past, Present, and Future: Germany's Arrival in the West
3.3 Two different "Wests"?
3.4 The Necessity to Regret and to Forget and the Legend of the "Clean" Wehrmacht
V) Conclusion 150
Abbreviations 155
Bibliography 156
1. Archival Sources 156
2. Published Sources 157
3. Periodicals 157
4. Memoirs 158
5. Internet Sources 158
6. Secondary Literature 158

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