At the end of World War II roughly 300,000 American GIs were deployed as occupation forces in Germany. Many of them quickly developed intimate relations with their former enemies. Those informal interactions played a significant role in the transformation of Germany from enemy to ally of the United States, argues Petra Goedde in her engrossing book.
Goedde finds that as American soldiers fraternized with German civilians, particularly as they formed sexual relationships with women, they developed a feminized image of Germany that contrasted sharply with their wartime image of the aggressive Nazi stormtrooper. A perception of German "victimhood" emerged that was fostered by the German population and adopted by Americans. According to Goedde, this new view of Germany provided a foundation for the political rapprochement that developed between the two countries even before the advent of the Cold War. Her provocative findings suggest that the study of foreign relations should focus on interactions not only between politicians and diplomats but also between ordinary citizens.