Ulrike Stoll. Kulturpolitik als Beruf: Dieter Sattler (1906-1968) in München, Bonn und Rom. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh Verlag, 2005. 594 S. EUR 88.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-3-506-71313-1.
Reviewed by Yoko Kawamura (Faculty of Humanities, Seikei University, Japan)
Published on H-German (April, 2006)
The Power of an Architect in Cultural Policymaking
A photograph of Dieter Sattler greets readers from the cover of this book by Ulrike Stoll. Sattler was a Bavarian, educated as an architect, who sought to mediate politics and culture in the postwar Federal Republic. After working as a freelance architect during the Nazi years, he started his career in cultural policy as State Secretary for Fine Arts in the Cultural Ministry of occupied Bavaria (1947-1950). He then turned to diplomacy, becoming the cultural attaché at the German Embassy in Rome (1951-1959). Afterwards he was promoted to Director of the Cultural Department of the Foreign Office in Bonn (1959-1966) and spent the last years of his life in the Vatican as ambassador (1966-1968). Though he ended up as an ambassador, Sattler's Beruf was doing politics with culture, as the first Federal President Theodor Heuss suggested.
Among those interested in the foreign cultural policy (auswärtige Kulturpolitik, hereafter FCP) of the Federal Republic, Sattler is renowned for having established the institutional basis of today's FCP (for example, the delegation of official cultural works to the Goethe Institute and other specialized organizations) and setting the basic tone of its content (like the principle of presenting various cultural aspects of Germany to the foreign public). In the West German federal system, FCP had long been the only "German-wide" cultural policy undertaken by the Federal Government, so Sattler's work was significant in the development of postwar German cultural policy in general as well. Nevertheless, little is known about how he accomplished his goals, and even less about his background or personality. In her biographical work, Ulrike Stoll fills this gap by portraying Sattler's life and work in detail. She relies on numerous sources, including Sattler's private diaries and other personal papers in his family's possession.
Since cultural policymaking was Sattler's life work, Stoll focuses on Sattler's activities during his days in Munich, Rome and Bonn (chapters 3, 4, 5). Here, readers find a lively, behind-the-scenes portrayal of the political and cultural landscape of the postwar Federal Republic. It is amazing that Sattler (who came from a bourgeois family of artists) could develop friendships with so many distinguished personalities from various fields. Readers will recognize familiar names such as Heinrich von Brentano, Romano Gurardini, Theodor Heuss, Eckart Peterich, Reinhard Raffalt, Carlo Schmid and others--all of whom supported Sattler's work. This group of personalities around Sattler more or less shared his modern, western and Christian values and helped form the basis of the Federal Republic's cultural policy.
Stoll's work is a great contribution to the research on German FCP. Academic interest in German FCP is now growing, but there have been only a few publications, especially in terms of its postwar historiography. Stoll's depiction of foreign cultural policymaking provides detailed information on the competition of the two German states in international cultural relations (such as the rivalry between the western "Deutsche Bibliothek" and eastern "Centro Thomas Mann" in Rome). She also considers arguments about the substance of "German culture" to be presented to the outside world (as in the evaluation of the Bavarian Folklore Ballet tour) and the institutional forms of FCP (the "German Council" plan). These issues are related to broader questions, such as the nature of postwar German identity or the relationship between culture and politics.
Another virtue of this book is that its readers can acquire general insights about the relationship between agency and structure in cultural policymaking. According to Stoll, Sattler was a man of "second rank" within the policy structure--not a prominent politician, but a ministerial director with a certain degree of responsibility who could make a constant commitment to the policy field. He was also a Quereinsteiger, an architect from outside the government. Paradoxically, Sattler could exert broad influence on the construction of FCP exactly because of his position as second rank outsider.
The clue to understanding this contradiction lies in the unique character of cultural policy. First, culture itself is a "second rank" field within government policy. Most "top politicians" do not think much about cultural policymaking, so that a "second rank" person can often make substantial decisions. And second, cultural policymaking requires creative, long-term thinking and specialized knowledge for its conception and execution; many career bureaucrats, however, are qualified in the opposite direction. Sattler's artistic background allowed his decision-making more flexibility and long-term vision and attracted supporters for cultural policy from many fields of society.
At the same time, as Stoll points out, the fact that Sattler could take his "second rank" position in the government is also "structure bound" (pp. 507-509). His unusual appointments occurred due to the special circumstances of the postwar Federal Republic, where most bureaucrats and diplomats were tainted with the Nazi past and authorities needed "clean," apolitical personalities to represent German culture. Sattler's actual influence on cultural policymaking was constrained by the will of higher-ranking officials. It was also conditioned by the larger social and political context, such as Cold War international relations and the rise and fall of the West German economy.
Sattler passed away in 1968. In the postwar Federal Republic, he belonged to an older generation of educated intellectuals whose conservative tendencies could not be reconciled with the new wave of cultural revolution. Though Stoll states that Sattler's cultural liberalism allowed some experimentation within the cultural programs of the Goethe Institute, the real cornerstone of FCP in terms of its policy concept (such as the broader definition of culture, two-way exchange and cooperation towards common goals) fell, in the Brandt/Scheel era, to policymakers of the next generation.
From this standpoint, it would be constructive to compare Sattler's case with those of the next generation of cultural policymakers who entered the arena after his retirement-- Ralf Dahrendorf, for example, who was another Quereinsteiger and who made many innovations during his short term as State Secretary. Another point of contrast could be provided with a comparison to Barthold C. Witte, Sattler's successor in Bonn during the Kohl/Genscher era, who published an autobiography some years ago.
Who, then, was Dieter Sattler? Sattler was an architect who jumped into the world of bureaucrats and constructed the foundation of German cultural policy. Readers of this biography should realize that an architect can contribute so much to the cultural policymaking--and also, that certain achievements in cultural policymaking can only be made with the power of an architect.
. Eckard Michels, Von der Deutschen Akademie zum Goethe-Institut (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2005); Johannes Paulmann, ed., Auswärtige Representationen (Cologne: Böhlau, 2005). Stoll contributes an episode from the reviewed book to the Paulmann anthology.
. Yoko Kawamura, "State Secretary Dahrendorf in the ?'Reform' of German Foreign Cultural Policy: Identity and Individual in the Formalization of Policy Concepts," in International Politics (Kokusai Seiji): Journal of Japan Association for International Relations 125 (2000), pp. 180-196 (original article in Japanese with an English abstract).
. Barthold C. Witte, Für die Freiheit eine Gasse (Stuttgart: Hohenheim, 2003).
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Yoko Kawamura. Review of Stoll, Ulrike, Kulturpolitik als Beruf: Dieter Sattler (1906-1968) in München, Bonn und Rom.
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