Berlin photo exhibition sheds light on lives of US soldiers in Germany | Arts | DW | 23.03.2018
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Arts

Berlin photo exhibition sheds light on lives of US soldiers in Germany

American troops have been stationed in Germany since World War II. The photo exhibition "Little America" at the Allied Museum in Berlin gives a rare glimpse into the lives of soldiers and their families.

As the victorious power, the US took control of the newly established occupied zones on German soil in the spring of 1945, together with France, the United Kingdom and Russia. US troops were also present in the American sector of Berlin.

All over Germany, US Army forces were housed in specially designed barracks and military bases. These settlements were affectionately known as Little America, and were a slice of home for the soldiers in postwar Germany.

West Germany's occupation ended in 1955, but the US Army kept its military bases. Photographs from the late 1940s to the 1980s are currently on show in an exhibition at Berlin's Allied Museum.

Read more:1968 through the lens of German photo journalist Robert Lebeck 

Daily life

The photographs have been selected from the private collection of the art historian and collector John Provan. He grew up in Little America, and spent his youth on the Sembach Air Base near Kaiserslautern, largely isolated from the German population.

"The settlement was located in a remote location, and as soldiers' children, as so-called 'brats,' we felt very united," he said in an interview with curator Olivia Fuhrich. "Little America was like in the States, everything came from there; you did not feel that you were anywhere else."

Provan felt it was "a calling" to secure these historical treasures. "For me, it's important to preserve the image that the GIs left here in Germany: the influence of American culture, language, democracy, fast food, pop music, sports and clothing, like jeans, for example."

The exhibition, featuring around 200 photographs taken by Army photographers, have been made available to the public for the first time.

The Allied Museum in Berlin is open to visitors every day except Monday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Admission is free.

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