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Dangerous Liaisons: The Anti-Fraternization Movement in the U.S. Occupation Zones of Germany and Austria, 1945-1948

Perry Biddiscombe
Journal of Social History
Vol. 34, No. 3 (Spring, 2001), pp. 611-647
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3789820
Page Count: 37
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Dangerous Liaisons: The Anti-Fraternization Movement in the U.S. Occupation Zones of Germany and Austria, 1945-1948
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Abstract

In the immediate post-World War II period, women in the U.S. occupied portions of Germany and Austria faced a significant threat of violence from men, especially returning Wehrmacht soldiers, who were attempting to hinder relationships between their countrywomen and American occupation troops. Punishments ranged from social ostracization to threats to physical attacks and hair clippings. Although such things happened in many parts of Europe between 1942 and 1948, a phenomenon which was part of a more general trend involving the reassertion of moral and patriarchal standards of conduct disrupted by the war, there is no doubt that the process was particularly severe in regions of southern Germany and northwestern Austria occupied by American forces. The frequent incidence of fraternization in such areas, occasioned by the wealth and surety of the foreign occupiers as compared to the dire material straits and unhappiness of local women, ensured that there was a steady stream of targets for anti-fraternization hair shearers and sloganeers. The residual impact of Nazi patriarchalism and militarism further added to the tension. In some ways, the anti-fraternization movement provided the closest post-World War II parallel to the counter-revolutionary paramilitary groups active in Germany and Austria in 1919/20.

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