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The Other Alliance

The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties

Martin Klimke
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    The Other Alliance
    Book Description:

    Using previously classified documents and original interviews,The Other Allianceexamines the channels of cooperation between American and West German student movements throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, and the reactions these relationships provoked from the U.S. government. Revising the standard narratives of American and West German social mobilization, Martin Klimke demonstrates the strong transnational connections between New Left groups on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Klimke shows that the cold war partnership of the American and German governments was mirrored by a coalition of rebelling counterelites, whose common political origins and opposition to the Vietnam War played a vital role in generating dissent in the United States and Europe. American protest techniques such as the "sit-in" or "teach-in" became crucial components of the main organization driving student activism in West Germany--the German Socialist Student League--and motivated American and German student activists to construct networks against global imperialism. Klimke traces the impact that Black Power and Germany's unresolved National Socialist past had on the German student movement; he investigates how U.S. government agencies, such as the State Department's Interagency Youth Committee, advised American policymakers on confrontations with student unrest abroad; and he highlights the challenges student protesters posed to cold war alliances.

    Exploring the catalysts of cross-pollination between student protest movements on two continents,The Other Allianceis a pioneering work of transnational history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3215-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    (pp. 1-9)

    The eruption of student protest in the 1960s was a global phenomenon, the magnitude of which was acknowledged by contemporary observers, enthusiastic supporters, and fierce critics alike. A CIA report on “Restless Youth” from September 1968 stated, “Youthful dissidence, involving students and nonstudents alike, is a world-wide phenomenon. . . . Because of the revolution in communications, the ease of travel, and the evolution of society everywhere, student behavior never again will resemble what it was when education was reserved for the elite. . . . Thanks to the riots in West Berlin, Paris, and New York and sit-ins in...

  7. Chapter 1 SDS MEETS SDS
    (pp. 10-39)

    When the 21-year-old German student Michael Vester started his 1961–62 exchange year at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, with the support of the Fulbright program, he had no idea that he was to become the earliest mediator of an emerging transnational New Left and, at the same time, take an active role in the creation of one of the most influential manifestos of the American student movement of the 1960s. Vester had been born in 1939 Berlin into a middle-class family and spent the first years of his life there before his family moved to Silesia. Committed to a...

  8. Chapter 2 BETWEEN BERKELEY AND BERLIN, FRANKFURT AND SAN FRANCISCO: The Networks and Nexus of Transnational Protest
    (pp. 40-74)

    “Germany. Oh Really? We have a sister organization there, also called SDS. We’ll give you the names and you can go and see them over there.”¹ This was the information that Douglas Blagdon received in the summer of 1964 when he told the U.S. national Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) office of his plan to spend an academic year in West Germany. What he did not know at that point was that ever since Michael Vester’s visit in 1961/62 the German and the American SDS had kept in touch and continued to enjoy a loose but fraternal relationship. Members...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Building the Second Front: The Transatlantic Antiwar Alliance
    (pp. 75-107)

    When American exchange student and SDS member Ruven Brooks enrolled himself at the University of Freiburg in Germany in the fall of 1966, he was astonished. Having just arrived from the United States and its heated domestic atmosphere, he found that the

    German political constellation has a rather frightening resemblance to the American: . . . On the left there’s a pacifist element, represented by the Easter Marchers and the Campaign for Disarmament as well as the Marxist-dominated German peace party—about the same axis as SPU [and] SANE. There’s a doctrinaire Marxist element, represented by uncountable splinter elements along...

    (pp. 108-142)

    “As i listened to Stokely’s words, cutting like a switch-blade, accusing the enemy as I had never heard him accused before, I admit that I felt the cathartic power of his speech. But I also wanted to know where to go from there.”¹ With these words, Angela Davis remembers the speech of one of the leading figures of the Black Power movement in the United States, Stokely Carmichael, during the two-week congress “Dialectics of Liberation” in London in July 1967. For Davis, who later became an icon of the African American protest movement, this encounter proved to be formative for...

    (pp. 143-193)

    On May 21, 1968, George McGhee left his post as U.S. ambassador to the Federal Republic to take on the job of ambassador-at-large in Washington. Throughout his diplomatic career, McGhee had shown interest in the situation of international youth. When the Department of State formed a “Student Unrest Study Group” to come to terms with the events of the “French May” in mid-1968, McGhee was the natural candidate for the chairmanship. In his first report to President Lyndon B. Johnson on “World Student Unrest,” McGhee wrote that across the globe students had “toppled prime ministers, changed governments, ruined universities and...

    (pp. 194-235)

    Student Protest in the second half of the 1960s did not have an immediate influence on the course of U.S. foreign policy, but the efforts of activists on both sides of the Atlantic did play an important part in its institutional conceptualization. The impact of youthful dissent continued to occupy American policymakers in the Johnson and Nixon administrations, who sought to analyze this worldwide phenomenon most effectively and minimize its damage to U.S. interests. To that end, the role of the Inter-Agency Youth Committee (IAYC), which served as the center of all government efforts directed at foreign youth, had grown...

    (pp. 236-246)

    In a 1968 speech on worldwide student unrest, the Executive Secretary of the Inter-Agency Youth Committee, Robert Cross, interpreted the youth of the 1960s as the “first truly international generation.” For Cross, this was not the result of tight organizational networks. In his view, students in many countries shared similar political and philosophical problems and looked to their peers to solve them. This created “a great crossfertilization, a very rapid and effective student grape-vine.” As Cross summed it up, “What happens in New York is known overnight in Paris and Manila. The speeches of Rudi Dutschke are in the hands...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 247-324)
  15. List of Sources
    (pp. 325-328)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 329-346)