Dr. Johanna Blokker (Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg): "Germany's Amerika-Häuser:  Architecture in the Battle for Hearts and Minds"

Tuesday, 02.06.2015, 12 – 2 p.m., U5/01.18

For the United States, V-E Day marked not the end of the struggle in Europe, but rather the beginning of a new phase in which the objective was the hearts and minds of German citizens. The former enemy should be denazified, democratized and brought back into the community of Western nations – as a worthy end in itself, but also as a dimension of America's battle with its new adversary, the Soviet Union.

Essential to this effort were the Amerika-Häuser, centers for the dissemination of information on American-style democracy and the American way of life that were established in towns and cities throughout western Germany in the late 1940s and 1950s. The majority of Amerika-Häuser were installed in existing buildings, but in a few key cities, purpose-built structures were designed using architectural forms meant to be expressive of the democratic ideals promoted within. The talk will introduce the Amerika-Haus program and the ways in which it recruited architecture into the political and ideological struggle after World War II.

Dr. Johanna Blokker studied art and architectural history in Montreal, Toronto and New York. She currently teaches in the Master's program in Heritage Conservation at Bamberg University, where she continues to pursue her research interests in politics and identity as they relate to architectural heritage. She is currently working on her second book, focusing on "Architektur als Mittel amerikanischer Kulturdiplomatie in Deutschland zwischen Zweitem Weltkrieg und Kaltem Krieg".