E-Mail: skrause [at] email.unc.edu
“Outpost of Freedom,” my dissertation,charts Berlin’s transformation from the capital of Nazi Germany to a symbol of freedom and resilient democracy in the Cold War. My research has unearthed how this remarkable development derived from a network of liberal American occupation officials, and returned émigrés, or remigrés, of the Marxist Social Democratic Party (SPD). To understand how a determined band of remigrés shaped postwar Germany’s political culture, I analyzed governmental documents in the United States and Berlin, contemporary radio broadcasts and visual culture, and personal papers of the networks’ members. Ultimately, I discovered that individual political journeys of these expellees during the Nazis’ reign of terror predicated their actions in the Cold War. Forced into exile, these refugees radicalized into “revolutionary socialists.” However, exposed to New Deal America and disillusioned by Stalinism, these committed anti-fascists endorsed liberal democracy and anti-totalitarian convictions during wartime exile in the United States. This transnational project offers a new explanation for the alignment of Germany’s principal leftwing party, the SPD, with the Western camp in the Cold War. I unearth how personal experiences in exile prefigured this surprising Cold War alliance. In recasting Berliners as heroic defenders of democracy against Communism, this network propelled the career of future Chancellor Willy Brandt and pioneered the transformation of the SPD into a left-center, big-tent party.