The Sexual Behavior of American GIs During the Early Years of the Occupation of Germany

TitleThe Sexual Behavior of American GIs During the Early Years of the Occupation of Germany
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsWilloughby, John
JournalThe Journal of Military History
Date Published01/1998

Conditions in Germany during the first two years following V-E Day (June 1945-June 1947) posed a special challenge to those attempting to forge a new German-American relationship. The wartime allies had agreed that each occupation Army must reimpose a "rule of law" within Germany after twelve years of Nazi outrages. The central headache which faced U.S. Army command during the first few years of the occupation, however, was the apparently unrestrained sexual activity of the American GI. The military had to search for new ways to ensure that the sexual activity of American personnel did not foster an environment which was hostile to Americans and U.S. government interests. This essay explores this issue in four sections. The first documents the Army's failed efforts to control "fraternization" between American men and German women. The second section describes the venereal disease crisis that plagued the occupation army in its first year and a half in Germany and the Army's efforts to treat sexually transmitted diseases as a public health problem. The third section examines the largely patriarchal interpretations of German-American sexual relations during the early occupation period. The concluding and fourth section of this article argues that the attenuation of sexual conflict within Germany occurred as a result of three factors: the domestication of the Army in Germany through the importation of American women and children as dependents; the ability of a small number of German women to marry into the American nation; and the slow political and economic emergence of a relatively autonomous West Germany.

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