September 13, 2022

“An Army on Alert”: The Cold War Army in Occupied Germany, 1945-55

A Legacy Lecture by Ashley Vance

In 1945, American soldiers experienced a defeated Germany in survival mode. Cities were destroyed, populations needed to be housed and fed, local governments had to be reestablished, and order restored. It was up to the Allied forces to reconstruct the broken nation. Conversely, soldiers in the 1950s lived in a West Germany experiencing an “economic miracle.” The economy was booming, tourist travel was abundant, politics were stable, and the former enemy was now a partner in peace for the Cold War. Although the men spent the majority of their time training in field maneuvers for the Cold War, the men had a relatively comfortable lifestyle. They lived in newly constructed housing, often with their wives and children, and got to spend their free time traveling.

Ashley Vance is a PhD Candidate at Texas A&M University and is currently completing her dissertation, “Cold War Soldiering: The U.S. Army in Germany, 1945-1958.” Her research focuses on the U.S. Army’s peacetime transformation from a combat mission during World War II to the armed peacetime occupation of the early Cold War. She also serves as the Department of History’s Career Diversity Fellow, where she advocates for graduate professional development and career opportunities beyond academia.

The views expressed in this video are those of the speaker(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the George C. Marshall Foundation.