Don't Let's be Beastly to the Germans
The British Occupation of Germany, 1945-49
by Daniel Cowling
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Pub Date 28 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 28 Sep 2023
Head of Zeus, Apollo
The untold history of the British occupation of Germany, told through the eyes of the people who were there.
Following the end of the Second World War, between 1945 and 1949, British forces occupied the northern part of what would become West Germany. Here, Daniel Cowling presents a political and military history of this occupation, but also explores the experiences of the thousands of British men and women who were tasked with building a democracy out of the ruins of Hitler's Germany.
From reconstructing bridges and schools in the British Zone to tracking down fugitives, their job was to leave no stone unturned in the fight to eradicate Nazism. But this force of civilian and military occupiers soon became entangled in the murky underworld of post-war Europe – rife with black-marketeering, corruption, cover-ups, sex and scandal. In time, they would also find themselves at the frontline of the Cold War, as irreconcilable tensions divided Europe between East and West.
Based on a battery of source materials that ranges from newspaper reports to feature films, from declassified Foreign Office documents to private diaries, personal letters and interviews with veterans, Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans offers telling insights into Britain's experience of the Second World War and the Cold War, and sheds revelatory light on the development of Britain's relationship with Europe since 1945.