Award-winning journalist Andrew Nagorski's books include The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II and Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power.
From his Q & A at the EWI website:
Who were the Americans in German in the 1920s and 1930s, and how did you get their stories?Writers Read: Andrew Nagorski (February 2008).
There was a broad range of Americans: diplomats, military attachés and foreign correspondents, along with a stream of visiting writers, students, professors and Olympic athletes. In a few cases, I was able to interview them directly, but most of them are no longer living. Which meant that I had to scour every possible record I could find—their published and unpublished memoirs, diaries, reports and letters. I found many of these source materials in archives, libraries and private family collections; in some cases, there were records that had been sitting in a family’s attic and almost forgotten.
What drew these Americans to Berlin?
Berlin in the 1920s was a wild place, where everything about life played out on the extremes. Against the backdrop of Germany’s defeat in World War I, its economic collapse and hyperinflation, politics often turned to violence. Even the sex was wild, as normal inhibitions all but evaporated. At the same time, Berlin—more so than Paris or London—was the cultural capital of Europe, boasting celebrities like Bertolt Brecht, Marlene Dietrich, George Grosz and Albert Einstein. The Americans who came to Berlin were swept up in all this excitement.
How were these Americans treated?
In the 1920s and early 1930s, most American felt very welcome in Germany. Of course, the United States had helped defeat Germany in World War I, but its involvement came late. And the Americans were far more....[read on]