Encounters: The Canadian Armed Forces in Germany, 1951-1993

My dissertation project aims at exploring the social and cultural history of life on and around the Canadian NATO bases and their surrounding civilian settlements, built and maintained in the Federal Republic of Germany between 1951 and 1993. I am particularly interested in the interactions, encounters, and exchanges that took place with local German communities, on whose peripheries the “Klein Kanadas” (or Little Canadas) bordered – and how these are being remembered today.
Social and cultural historiographic studies in both Canada and Germany have hitherto neglected the history of the Canadian Forces in Europe. In order to close this research gap, I am conducting Oral History interviews with different actors on the German and Canadian side who lived and worked on or off the Canadian Army and Air Force bases between the 1950s and the 1990s. I am including different generations of military members, civilian employees, local residents, and family dependents alike. In addition, I am analyzing commemorative sites in digital media and existing Oral History collections. In order to contextualize these ego-documents, I am consulting records and official publications of the military, administrative authorities, and government agencies as well as newspaper articles in German and Canadian archives.
My research is framed as a transnational study that seeks to shed light on the social and cultural hybridity of encounters (and non-encounters) of local residents and members of the Canadian “military community” in the semi-permeable borderlands between “Little Canada” and the surrounding German localities – and the resulting (and overly positive) memory culture we find today. In this sense, my research project aims to serve as a contribution to Canadian, (West) German, and German-Canadian post-war history alike.
Frauke Brammer
John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies
Department of History
Freie Universität Berlin
Lansstr. 7-9
14195 Berlin