Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Democracy Imposed: U.S. occupation policy and the German public, 1945-1949, by Richard L. Merritt

I picked up this book at the NU library on a whim, thinking it was a more general treatment of democracy imposed on Germany than it actually is. The real subject of the book, efforts by the US authorities to gauge German opinion through a pioneering large-scale exercise in polling, has its interest. I liked this passage:

In early 1945 German villages and cities experienced what literally thousands of others across Europe had gone through in the previous three decades. Distant thunder began to roll, with jagged flashes reddening the skies. As the rumbling came ever closer, people knew that their community, too, would suffer the foreign army's onslaught...

Some Germans crawling from their refuges, however, encountered something unique in the history of warfare: batteries of foreign soldiers asking them -- in German -- to respond to questionnaires.
The book also treats American public opinion and divergent policy initiatives concerning Germany.

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