It Started with a Kiss
David Culbert visits an exhibition at the Allied (Alliierten) Museum in the former headquarters of the US occupation forces in Berlin.
The Allied Museum, is located on Clayallee, named after the US military governor of Germany from 1947-49, Lucius D. Clay, across from what was the official entrance to the Headquarters for American Occupation Forces in Berlin. The museum, which opened in 1998, has been developed with the co-operation of the US, British, French and German governments, and tells the story of the Western forces and Berlin from 1945 to 1990. It incorporates the Outpost Theater, built for American soldiers in the early 1950s, as well as a restored Hastings TG503, the largest British plane to be used in the Berlin Airlift.
The latest exhibition, ‘It Started with a Kiss. German-Allied Love Affairs after 1945’, is a fascinating exploration of the ways in which occupation policy for Germany was shaped by thousands of individual relationships, ones that did indeed begin with a kiss. It looks at how the large number of fraternizations between the former enemies was dealt with, both in the Allied countries and in Germany.
Allied occupation policy presumed that post-war Germany would be filled with ardent Nazis, so the official policy called for non-fraternization, to keep occupation soldiers from possible harm. However, in spite of this, love affairs between Allied troops and German Fräuleins were common.
The juxtaposition of individual stories, official and feature films, posters, artefacts and photographs lent by all the participatory countries makes the exhibition of exceptional interest. One example is a snapshot showing American soldiers posing before a billboard warning of non-fraternization. A second snapshot has the ‘no’ in the billboard carefully obscured by one of the GI’s.