Volker Berghahn. Transatlantische Kulturkriege: Shepard Stone, die Ford-Stiftung und der europäische Antiamerikanismus. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2004. 392 S. EUR 48.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-3-515-08422-2.
Reviewed by Günter Bischof (Department of History and Center Austria, University of New Orleans)
Published on H-German (September, 2005)
The Art of Transatlantic Networking: Shepard Stone, "Bridge Builder" Extraordinaire
For my archival research on a dissertation on postwar Austria in international politics, I received a generous grant from Harvard's Center for European Studies out of their Krupp Foundation funds during the 1985/6 academic year. A lifesaver at the time, this aid shaped my career as a historian more than any fellowship I ever received. My native Austria, still mired in its self-absorbed Cold War neutralism and not interested in Atlantic networking, had no dissertation grants available for those of us studying outside the country. And even though most of my fellow students from the prestigious institutions in the Cambridge area found it easier to get research grants because they worked on "big" European countries or comparative European topics, the Krupp fellowships could be doled out to "small" country investigations like mine. For over a quarter-century, the CES's Krupp grants have funded Harvard and MIT students and thus contributed enormously to the furthering of European studies in the United States. Through the good times of U.S.-European relations and bad, this generous German gift has furthered both trans-Atlantic scholarship and comity enormously.
In Volker Berghahn's splendid intellectual history of transatlantic networking in the first half of the Cold War I now learn that the Krupp Foundation was set up in 1962 with the template of private American foundations such as Ford in mind (pp. 248ff). Shepard Stone, the consummate transatlantic networker whose intriguing biography this book also covers, provided Berthold Beitz, the confidante of the steel tycoon Alfried Krupp (a sort of German Andrew Carnegie), with the American philanthropic model to follow. Next to genuine philanthropic interests, the Krupps were trying to escape their reputation as "merchants of death," as John J. McCloy observed: "When old John D. Rockefeller had first established the Rockefeller Foundation his name was anathema to Americans. Today the Rockefeller name is held in great honor and esteem" (p. 249). Like Ford and Rockefeller, Krupp would be a foundation with a global mission from the very beginning and generous donations to world-class elite institutions of higher learning were envisioned. I remember Beitz stopping by at Harvard's CES in the late 1980s to evaluate the value of the program personally with a group of "Krupp fellows." I found Beitz's hands-on interest remarkable then and now. Yet with Shepard Stone's model of highly personal Atlantic networking in mind, it makes perfect sense. The "Americanization" of German philanthropy after World War II, however, is just one of the stories of transatlantic networking told in this absorbing book.
Shep's (as his friends called him) life story provides the thread for Berghahn to weave together a much larger tale of Cold War intellectual history. Born into a modest family of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, Stone grew up in New Hampshire and attended Dartmouth College, where he studied history. Professor Ambrose White Vernon, who had studied in Halle and was married to a German, took Stone under his wings. He subtly intimated both the value of studying abroad and the power of networking and urged the eager young student to study in Germany where Weltpolitik was in the making. Stone's is the archetypal story, then, of a successful American social climber who "made good" because of a superb education and the contacts he built in a lifetime.
Stone studied history during the waning days of the Weimar Republic. Berlin in the years of Hitler's ascendancy was both fabulously rich in the cultural arena and depressingly torrid in its politics: "Berlin was mad, a place where anything goes. Brutality in politics, culture and daily life went hand-in-hand with romance, sentiment, adventure and living life to the full" (p. 25). He regularly met the likes of fellow students Raymond Aron, Edward Teller, John von Neumann, Leo Szilard, and heard a lecture by Albert Einstein. He enrolled in the lecture courses of Alfred Weber and Karl Jaspers. And he wrote a dissertation on contemporary German-Polish relations with famed historian Hermann Oncken, which he managed to complete and defend late in 1932, literally weeks before the Nazis seized power. He also met and married Charlotte Hasenclever-JaffÃ©, daughter of a distinguished Jewish family. Stone used and built on these connections for the rest of his life. His love for Berlin was lasting and, in spite of the dark Nazi years, he never abandoned his affection for this German metropolis and its people.
In 1933 Stone returned to the United States and landed a job with the New York Times, where he became a roving European correspondent. His reports from Germany and Europe became increasingly pessimistic in the late 1930s and his warnings to isolationist America correspondingly shrill. Days before Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union he managed to get his parents-in-law out of Germany. With the U.S. entry into the war, Stone volunteered for the Army, becoming involved in psychological warfare. After landing at Normandy, he joined the northern European campaign, ending up in Weimar in April 1945. He secured document caches of the German Foreign Office that would provide valuable evidence for the Nuremberg Trials. Stone stayed on after the war and joined the U.S. Military Government. He became involved in rebuilding a democratic press in Germany and preventing the Nazis from "creeping back" into their old jobs (pp. 53ff). Stone remained a Germanophile, refuted charges that he was a "Morgenthau boy," rejected the notion of a straight line from Luther to Hitler, wanted to see the country reconstructed quickly, and upheld the firm belief that there had been many "good Germans" during the war. In short, Stone's sympathy for the Germans made him an advocate for reconciliation and a "soft peace."
In 1946 he retired from the Army and returned to the U.S. to resume work at the Times. Yet his urge to help organize the "psychic reconstruction" of the war-torn country was too strong (p. 73). In 1949 he returned to a divided Germany with the new U.S. High Commissioner John J. McCloy, like Stone a consummate networker and social climber. Stone quickly became the director of the Office of Public Affairs and McCloy's personal adviser--his "Harry Hopkins" (p. 84). Stone resumed his former job of rebuilding the German media, built up a system of "Amerika houses" and sent thousands of German students and young leaders on exchange programs to the United States. He regularly invited the German intellectual elite to dinners at his house--building and strengthening his network among German postwar leaders from presidents on down. He sought to insulate West German democracy against temptations from both right and left. With the full emergence of Cold War tensions in Germany and Berlin, Stone also was increasingly drawn into the struggle to contain communism in Central Europe. In the process of supporting the voracious West German press, he developed a covert finance model out of Marshall Plan counterpart funds, making U.S. government support invisible (pp. 94 ff). Joseph McCarthy's charges of "subversive activities" among HICOG personnel in West Germany cast a pall on Stone's work. When McCloy returned to the United States in 1952, Stone followed him and both began to work with the Ford Foundation.
As the director of Ford's new international programs, Stone sat at the source of millions of dollars of funding. He helped design two major American Cold War campaigns in shaping ideas and values ("culture wars")--the war against communism in Europe and against deep-seated anti-Americanism among Western European elites on the left and the right. During the Eisenhower 1950s, when the Cold War was rapidly "militarized," the United States indeed came to think about information campaigns as warfare (truth is "our T-bomb"). "The Congress of Cultural Freedom" (CCF) became a vital institution for fighting these dual intellectual wars. Berghahn tells the story of the CCF as a vast networking effort among anti-Communist intellectuals from the United States, Europe and later on the "Third World" as well. The CCF organized a number of well-attended congresses in the 1950s to carry on an extended philosophical and sociological dialogue about the nature of modern society--the emergence of mass society and mass culture, both of them ascribed to be "American." In a tour de force of Cold War intellectual history, Berghahn points out the importance of the influence of John Dewey's pragmatism on philosophical thought in the postwar period, as well as the emergence and triumph of Hannah Arendt's totalitarianism model.
Berghahn does not ignore the vital differences between American Communist fellow travelers from the 1930s turned anti-communist after the war, and the survival of such fellow-traveling among French intellectuals (like Jean-Paul Sartre). Their indifference to Stalinism and neutralism in the Cold War was intolerable to former communists turned fierce anti-communists working with the CCF such as Arthur Koestler and Ignazio Silone. The trick was to build an international network of left-wing anti-Stalinists who were committed Atlanticists, in spite of their reservations about American "masscult." At the same time a campaign was launched against the fellow travelers in France who adhered to a strong anti-Americanism, never reconciling themselves to American power and the projection of American mass culture in postwar Europe (American "Unkultur") (pp. 166 ff). The CCF wanted to demonstrate the power of American high culture and civilization in a number of arts festivals organized in Paris and elsewhere. High-brow intellectual journals like the British Encounter were started all over Europe to fight idea wars against both fellow travelers and anti-Americans more effectively and covertly financed by the CIA. Unfortunately, McCarthyism confirmed the worst fears of anti-fascist European intellectuals about America's faults. This brief summary cannot do justice to Berghahn's rich intellectual history, which identifies these networks person by person. Berghahn also admirably succeeds in recounting these idea wars without ever falling into the old trap of left historians who tended to discount the entire CCF history because of the "tainted" CIA money.
Berghahn's skill as a master historian is apparent in his weaving together the strands of a highly sophisticated Cold War intellectual history along with the history of private philanthropy (the Ford Foundation's increasing replacement of U.S. government funding of the idea wars) and Stone's personal biography. Berghahn was the first historian to obtain unrestricted access to Stone's personal papers. When Stone began to work for the Ford Foundation, he faced an uphill battle in persuading the trustees to invest in these "culture wars." What Berghahn does not explicitly address, however, is Stone's encounter with a phalanx of "Marshall Plan boys" brought by Paul Hoffman from his former job as administrator of the "European Cooperation Administration" to the Ford Foundation as its new President in the early 1950s.
Right around the time that covert CIA backing of the CCF became public in 1967, the Ford Foundation decided to replace the CIA as its principal funder. The CCF collapsed from the bad press. The CCF was replaced with the "International Association for Cultural Freedom" (IACF), which Stone ran from Paris. Though it initially thrived like the CCF did in the 1950s, it was terminated in 1977 due to financial anemia (Ford was no longer willing to carry most of the burden). The 1968 student rebellions and the worldwide protests against the Vietnam War produced a different intellectual climate and a renewed wave of anti-Americanism.
One of Berghahn's most surprising conclusions is his claim that the anti-communist intellectual crusade had been won by 1956, when Soviet intervention in Hungary offered the final proof of the poverty of communism. The crusade against left and right European anti-Americanism, however, largely failed, as the events of 1968 and following years showed. For Stone this failure was a major disappointment. Yet he continued to engage in transatlantic networking as the director of Berlin's Aspen Institute until 1988. A return to his beloved Berlin was a job tailored for this great "impresario" of German-American relations (pp. 347 ff). He fittingly played a leading role in cobbling together a new fellowship program for German students at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in the late 1980s named after McCloy. The transatlantic networks and bridges Stone helped build to sell the image of a better America to the Europeans and Germans are his lasting legacy; hundreds of students and young scholars have profited. One wonders how Stone would have reacted to the collapse of some of these bridges after the failure of "old Europe's" support for Bush's Iraq intervention and the recurrence of a renewed upsurge of rabid anti-Americanism.
Stone's biography, then, provides the backbone for Berghahn to tell a much larger Cold War story, namely that of the war of ideas between East and West. As a Cold War historian I like the title of the English version of this book better: America and the Intellectual Cold Wars in Europe. One wonders whether in this day and age, when the bulk of discourse on the Cold War era is carried on in English, a translation is needed at all. The war of ideas is a more unique and largely untold story, whereas "culture wars" have been the focus of an enormous literature that is growing unabated. I also like the fact that Berghahn combines an unabashedly old-fashioned history via his biographical approach with a more fashionable cultural history of the Cold War.
Berghahn provides rich empirical evidence for what Charles S. Maier has termed the "analogue" of American postwar empire in Europe: "One characteristic was the popular acceptance of shared values and a common commitment (tested by elections and by the absence of disabling public protest) to transnational ideals that motivate political behavior. Another was the formation of a new elite that motivates political behavior" (emphasis added). Stone constructed the elite networks of the CCF, the IACF and Aspen Berlin to promote the transnational "Atlantic" ideals of both anti-communism and Americanization. But we also need to keep in mind Geir Lundestad's cautioning reminder that the "'Atlantic framework' was a code phrase for overall American leadership." Lundestad concludes that "there was never any real doubt that Western Europe belonged to the American 'empire.'" Given the recent upsurge of "empire discourse," the issue of Stone as an American "empire-builder" might have been addressed more explicitly by Berghahn, maybe with a postscript to the German edition, which has not been updated since the publication of the English edition. One also is left wondering what became of Stone's wife after their return to the U.S. in 1952, as she completely drops out of the picture in the final chapters of the book. But these are minor quibbles over a marvelously lucid book that should be a prized possession of every college library and every Cold War scholar's personal collection.
. All page references are to the German edition under review here, but all quotations are taken from the original English version of the book: Volker R. Berghahn, America and the Intellectual Cold Wars in Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).
. Dwight Eisenhower testified in the Senate in 1950: "Truth, in my opinion, could almost be classified as our T-bomb, if you want to call it that, in this warfare.Â? It is a terrific responsibility to decide how much to do, where it would be better to divert a dollar into a tank, and where it is better to put a dollar into this information effort." Quoted in Frank Schumacher, Kalter Krieg und Propaganda: Die USA, der Kampf um die Weltmeinung und die ideelle Westbindung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1945-1955 (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2000), p. 110.
. See Richard M. Bissel, Jr., (with Jonathan E. Lewis and Frances T. Pudlo), Reflections of a Cold Warrior: From Yalta to the Bay of Pigs (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), p. 74.
. See, for example, the thoughtful essays and select bibliography in Alexander Stephan, ed., Americanization and Anti-Americanism: The German Encounter with American Culture after 1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2004).
. Charles S. Maier, "Alliance and Autonomy: European Identity and U.S. Foreign Policy Objectives in the Truman Years," in The Truman Presidency, ed. Michael J. Lacey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 272-298; the quote is from p. 274.
. Geir Lundestand, "Empire" by Integration: The United States and European Integration, 1945-1997 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 40.
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Günter Bischof. Review of Berghahn, Volker, Transatlantische Kulturkriege: Shepard Stone, die Ford-Stiftung und der europäische Antiamerikanismus.
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