Because of Germany's strong reputation in naval construction, the Allies slated the shipbuilding industry for dismantling after 1945; however, by 1955, West German shipbuilders had regained their place among the world leaders in this industry. This study traces the reconstruction through the labyrinth of Cold War diplomacy, foreign aid programs, and West German politics. By linking the histories of U.S. foreign policy, German business, and postwar Americanization, Wend demonstrates not just the impact of U.S. policy on West German reconstruction, but also the influence of local actors on the direction, implementation, and success of U.S. policies.
The recovery of German shipbuilding meshed well with most of the Truman administration's critical foreign policy initiatives, including the Marshall Plan. As American commitments became globalized, the U.S. relied heavily on West German actors and their institutions for the successful implementation of its policies. In shipbuilding, this reliance strengthened the role of the industrial association, the vertical integration of shipyards with Ruhr industries, and awakened opposition of British and American interest groups. Although U.S. policies failed to alter this industry's structure, West Germans did accept the American production model in the reconfiguration of individual shipyards in the 1950s.
About the Author:
HENRY BURKE WEND is Assistant Professor in the College of General Studies at Boston University and is Faculty Associate of the International History Institute. He has also been a visiting assistant professor of U.S. History at the University of Missouri-Columbia and a visiting scholar at the University of Bielefeld in Germany.