Faculty Colloquium Series: Adam Seipp

“‘My Home Is Your Castle’: Property, German Society, and the US Army, 1945-56”

Tuesday, 21 February 2017, 4-5 p.m.
Location: 311 Glasscock  Building
The paper is available to members of the Center’s listserv, or by contacting the Glasscock Center by phone at (979) 845-8328 or by e-mail at glasscock@tamu.edu.


Adam Seipp | Professor, Department of History, 2016-17 Glasscock Faculty Research Fellow, Texas A&M University

Dr. Seipp’s research focuses on war and social change in modern Germany, particularly the period since 1945.  His recent publications include a book, Strangers in the Wild Place: Refugees, Americans, and a German Town, 1945-1952 (Bloomington, 2013) and two articles: “Buchenwald Stories: Testimony, Military History, and the American Encounter with the Holocaust” in the Journal of Military History (July 2015) and “The Driftwood of War: The US Army, Expellees, and West German Society, 1945-1952” in War and Society (October 2013).

He is currently working on two research projects.  The first is a social history of the American military presence in the Federal Republic of Germany from 1945-1995.  The second examines the role of testimony in shaping narratives of concentration camp liberation in the United States and Germany.

During the ten-year American occupation of Germany after World War II, no issue more caused more consistent and bitter conflict between occupier and occupied than the requisitioning of property.  In this essay, I argue that conflict over property and property rights was critical not just because it helped to determine the footprint of the American military presence in Germany for much of the rest of the Cold War, but because these drawn-out conflicts can tell us much about the history of post-war Germany.  Property rights became a site of contestation where ordinary Germans and government officials could push back against the Americans as they transitioned from occupier to ally.  The complicated legal structure through which the Americans exercised and asserted control over German real estate served as a constant and tangible reminder of the limits of German sovereignty.  By consistently contesting American power over German property, Germans staked a claim to sovereign rights.  This performance of sovereignty ultimately helped to bolster an emerging democratic culture in the Federal Republic.

The Faculty Colloquium offers faculty an opportunity to discuss a work-in-progress with colleagues from different disciplines. By long-standing practice, colloquium presenters provide a draft of their current research, which is made available to members of the Glasscock Center listserv. Each colloquium begins with the presenter’s short (10-15 minute) exposition of the project, after which the floor is open for comments and queries. The format is by design informal, conversational, and interdisciplinary.

The Glasscock Center extends a warm invitation to faculty and students to join in a discussion of Professor Seipp’s work-in-progress. The paper is available to members of the Center’s listserv, or by contacting the Glasscock Center by phone at (979) 845-8328 or by e-mail at glasscock@tamu.edu. To join the Center’s listserv and receive regular notices of colloquia and other events, please register at http://listserv.tamu.edu/archives/chr-l.html.