Welcome to the ‘British Military Bases in Germany’ blog. Over the coming year, I will be using this blog to share aspects of my research into the social history of base communities and to share some of the fascinating, moving and amusing experiences of those who lived, worked or grew up in Germany.
I will also shortly be advertising the post of a full-time Research Assistant (12 months) who will work with me on this exciting project and will be circulating a Call for Papers for an academic workshop on oral history and the Cold War.
The original inspiration for this research came from hearing of the significant reduction of the British military presence in Germany and the final closure of bases which had existed, in some cases, since the immediate post-war period. I have vivid memories of visiting family members on these bases as a child and much later, now as a modern social historian specialising in the Cold War period, I wanted to understand more about these spaces as distinct social communities. The closure of bases marks the end of an era for the British military, but it also indicates a shift in British social, political and cultural history which I am keen to investigate.
So this project aims to explore the lived, everyday experience of these bases, but also to understand them in the context of British, European, Cold War and global history.
Furthermore, many of the military families who currently live in Germany will be returning to the South West region, where I also live and work. As a trained oral historian, I wanted to speak to those who had lived in Germany from 1945 to the present day. I have already had the tremendous pleasure of speaking to thirty people about their experiences and thank them for their generosity in sharing with me their memories of Germany.
The site contains an overview of the project, its funding and key people and partners. There is also a space for participants to sign up to be interviewed or share their memories – such voices are central to this social history and we would like to give you an opportunity to set the research agenda too.
Finally, there is a resources page which highlights many of the excellent exhibitions, initiatives and resources on this area of Cold War history – please let me know if there are any others you would like me to share.
Grace Huxford, February 2019