October 21, 2005 - March 19, 2006

It started with a Kiss. German-Allied Love Affairs after 1945

Love affairs are a private matter. But love affairs between Allied occupation soldiers and German women touch on the sphere of greater politics. In that sense, a German-Allied wedding might also be considered a political act.

To mark the end of the commemorative year “2005 – War and Peace,” this special exhibition by the Allied Museum examines the question of how the phenomenon of the large number of “fraternizations” between the former enemies was dealt with, both in the Allied nations and their societies and in Germany. Despite strict prohibitions at the outset, love affairs between Allied occupation soldiers and German “Fräuleins” were common in the metropolis of Berlin as well. Thousands of women took advantage of the removal of the ban on marriage at the end of 1946 to emigrate as German “war brides” to France, Great Britain or the U.S.A.

The exhibition shows the social conflicts surrounding these relationships; it explains administrative rules and illuminates individual experiences. The way “war brides” were treated in France, Great Britain and the U.S.A. was also a mirror of the political relationship between the former war enemies. The openness with which the U.S.A. welcomed the “war brides” reflects the helping hand with which the U.S.A. aided young West Germany in getting on its feet, both politically and economically. In contrast, the difficulties experienced by many German-French married couples in France shows the rocky road to the reconciliation of the two nations.

Research for the exhibition is being conducted in museums, collections and archives in London, Paris and Washington, DC. German-Allied couples and contemporary witnesses will provide many of the private exhibition items. A three-language catalogue with academic essays and reports from contemporary witnesses will be published to accompany the exhibition.

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