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Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties (America in the World) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Martin Klimke

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15. August 2011 America in the World
Using previously classified documents and original interviews, "The Other Alliance" examines 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 Alliance" is a pioneering work of transnational history.


Mehr über den Autor

Martin Klimke is an associate professor of history at New York University Abu Dhabi.

He is also an affiliated researcher at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) at the University of Heidelberg and in Transatlantic Cultural History (TCH) at the University of Augsburg, Germany.

His research focuses on the intersection of political and cultural history, with a particular emphasis on diplomatic and transnational history. The increasingly global cultural, political, and military presence of the U.S., especially after World War II, as well as the country's complex entanglement with other forces of globalization, are at the center of his scholarly interests.

He is the recipient of Heidelberg University's Ruprecht-Karls Prize 2006 and the NAACP's Julius E. Williams Distinguished Community Service Award 2009.

His latest book is a co-authored history of the experience of African American soldiers in Germany in the 20th century entitled "A Breath of Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). He is also co-editor of the publication series "Protest, Culture and Society" (Berghahn Books, New York/Oxford).

Klimke is currently working on the nuclear crisis and the cold war of the 1980s, writing a transnational biography of Petra Kelly, an international peace activist and co-founder of the German Green Party.

For more information, visit



"The Other Alliance takes the protest movements in West Germany and the United States ... as a case study of how activists in different countries shared political ideas and forms of protest an in doing so influenced and inspired each other. But unlike some other analyses, his focuses on the 'exact processes' by which the two movements constructed a 'collective identity'... What emerges from Klimke's study is an impressively nuanced picture."--Hans Kundnani, Times Literary Supplement "Martin Klimke's new study, The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany & the United States in the Global Sixties, represents an important attempt to go beyond vague generalizations about the 'global' to find ways of accessing and analyzing the pronounced interconnectedness that characterized the rebellion of the 1960s... Klimke makes excellent use of a range of sources, including classified American government documents that open up a fascinating perspective on how intelligence agencies viewed the threat of student unrest... [W]e can be grateful for Martin Klimke's excellent study, which represents an important addition to the vast and growing historical literature on the global sixties."--Timothy Scott Brown, Journal of American History "This logically organized, persuasive study of the transnational character of the 1960s student protest movement focuses on the relationship between New Left groups in the US and West German. Klimke, utilizing an impressive array of sources ranging from official archives to oral history interviews, examines the interaction between Students for a Democratic Society and its West German counterpart, the German Socialist Student League, as he makes his case for the significance of a student-led 'other alliance' that emerged in response to the perceived inadequacies and inanities of the official Western transatlantic partnership that evolved after 1945... Klimke's examination of one aspect of the international protest movement that took shape during this era is impressive."--Choice "Klimke brings important new information about international connections that concretizes the often (overly) general discussions of the international student movement... Klimke has produced a valuable addition to the burgeoning literature on 1968. He has contributed to the effort to rescue 1968 from the 68ers and to specify what happened as opposed to what people 'remember.'"--Michael L. Hughes, Central European History "The Other Alliance is a great read. It is an ambitious work that performs the valuable service of forcing us to think in new ways about the sixties as an aspect of globalization. Not only scholars of the sixties, but also those interested in transnational aspects of protest movements will need to take this work seriously. It is a valuable book for scholars well beyond the boundaries of German and American studies. I recommend it strongly, and have already begun to incorporate it into my work."--Lorenzo Bosi, Mobilization "Klimke succeeds admirably in documenting the emergence and complex transnational entanglement of [the] 'other' alliance, using carefully crafted prose to support his exhaustive and painstaking research... The Other Alliance is a bold and exciting work that will remain relevant for some time."--Michael Stauch, H-Soz-u-Kult "Klimke successfully walks a fine line between emphasizing the importance of international connections and recognizing the constraints upon them. This invaluable account will be a springboard for further research."--Nick Thomas, American Historical Review "[A] pioneering book on the student revolts of the 1960s and an excellent work of diplomatic history."--Stuart Hilwig, Diplomatic History "Klimke's account adds nuance to a historiography that has tended to neglect the response of the establishment beyond acts of police brutality."--Quinn Slobodian, German Studies Review "The product of truly prodigious research, The Other Alliance offers an amazingly complex and well-documented examination of the transnational political state of affairs of the 1960s, brilliantly detailing the historical and cultural determinism of the interaction between the student movements in West Germany and the United States in a global context."--Georgia Tres, Canadian Journal of History "[T]his book is a model of groundbreaking scholarship."--Klaus Schwabe, Journal of Transatlantic Studies "Martin Klimke has produced a fascinating narrative coupled with extensive analysis... Klimke's work teaches us that the global consciousness of young people predates the information age, in which we presently live. The seventh decade of the twentieth century clearly deserves further scholarly attention yet future efforts should also focus on other global relationships and their significance. This treatise will be an important source for students and scholars alike, and I certainly look forward to upcoming books by Martin Klimke."--Francis D. Raska, European Legacy

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Martin Klimke is research fellow at the German Historical Institute, Washington, DC, and the Heidelberg Center for American Studies at the University of Heidelberg.

In diesem Buch (Mehr dazu)
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating account of Transatlantic student protest as part of the Global Sixties 16. Dezember 2013
Von Robert Caldwell - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Martin Klimke.
The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties.
Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2010, 368 pp. $24.95

The Other Alliance examines the protest movements of the United States and West Germany and expanding our understanding of student revolt of the 1960s. The book goes beyond a mere comparison between the movements to explore the mutual influences the student movements in the two counties had upon one another. In doing so, it reveals lesser-known aspects like the contribution of Michael Vester, a West German exchange student, to the Port Huron statement and Angela Davis’ membership in the German SDS while studying under Theodor Adorno in Frankfurt. Who knew that German students raised money for guns for the Black Panthers, and also invited 700 Black GIs stationed in Germany to the University of Heidelberg for a forum of grievances?

The “other alliance” refers to the Transatlantic partnership created between radical organizations, as well as the non-institutional, grassroots solidarity, and mutual exchange between radicals in the U.S. and Germany in contrast to the alliance of states exemplified by NATO and the Marshall Plan. An important starting point of the alliance was two student groups who shared the acronym SDS and an orientation to the New Left. In the United States, Students for the League of Industrial Democracy renamed their organization Students for a Democratic Society in 1960, crafted the Port Huron Statement in 1962, and grew quickly with U.S. intervention in Vietnam in the mid-1960s. The German SDS (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund) started as a post-World War II youth organization of the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands) but was expelled in the 1950s due to its militant opposition to Germany’s rearming. After being expelled from the SPD, members of SDS built the group as an extraparliamentary opposition to the government SPD joined with the other main politcal party, the CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union).

The book details the deepening nodes and networks of connectivity of the 1960s that linked students across the Atlantic. Instead of official “Americanization,” German students were attracted to the U.S. counterculture and a “grassroots Americanization,” thus, Klimke argues, should not be understood as anti-American. The two SDS groups attended each other’s conferences. American students wrote for Neue Kritik while Germans wrote for New Left Notes. Rudi Duttschke’s anti-authoritarian action group in Berlin adopted the teach-in and other U.S. direct action tactics which spread throughout Germany.

German students were inspired by the struggles of the Black Power movement in the U.S. and the anti-colonial movements in the third world. In addition to the militancy of the Black Panther Party and their guns, they brought Frantz Fanon’s focus on the use of revolutionary violence from the colonial periphery to the European center, and drew on Che Guevera’s foco theory of guerilla warfare, whereby vanguard cells of cadres provide focus for popular discontent against the regime. Klimke also suggests that the New Left on both sides of the Atlantic paid little attention to, and found itself isolated from the working classes, and, despite fascination with black struggles and the third world, the transatlantic alliance remained mostly student and mostly white. At this point, any knowledgeable reader would be unable to resist the seeming inevitability of the Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof group) in Germany and the Weather Underground in the U.S.

The book is well-researched, drawing on a range of sources. Klimke drew on previous oral history projects and conducted new oral history interviews. He searched archives in German y and scattered throughout the United States as well as numerous newspapers and leftwing publications to reveal the lived experience of the New Left. Most interesting is the use of declassified NSF, White House, State Department and CIA files which offers a view of how intelligence agencies viewed the alliance that was their “other.” Drawing on these sources, Klimke also offers an excellent primer to the little-known Inter-Agency Youth Committee (IAYC) as the official alliance’s Cold War response to steer youth away from the lure of radicalism.
The book is commendable for detailing how a mass student movement emerged, was strongly mutually-influenced across borders, deepened in its radicalization, and, ultimately was funneled into a tiny adventurist groups by leaders, to borrow a phrase, from Jacques Mallet du Pan, ensured that the movement devoured itself. However, the book stops short in examining the turn to the working class that more members in both SDS groups chose. In doing so, it fails to reconcile the rank-and-file U.S. SDS interest in turning to working-class politics, despite the PL leadership in the 1969 convention, acknowledge the New Communist Movement groups with class orientation to come from the non-RCP factions of the RYM II group; and the majority of the German SDS who re-integrated into the SPD or gravitated to Marxist groups like the Maoist Kommunistischer Bund Westdeutschland and the Trotskyist Internationale Kommunisten Deutschlands (IKD) after 1967. Prior to this book, left-wing terrorism already drew disproportionate focus of scholarship and popular accounts of the movements during this period. The turn of students’ focus towards the working class has been less documented.

Despite its omissions, The Other Alliance breaks ground in its call for a broader understanding of the interrelations of the 1960s era radicalization. It will be useful for the foreseeable future for students of comparative and entangled radicalism, Transtatlantic scholars, those studying the long 1960s, and especially those interested in either SDS organization.

Robert Caldwell (University of Texas at Arlington)
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