Rasmussen, Natalia King. “Friends of Freedom, Allies of Peace”, Boston College, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:104045.
This dissertation examines the relationship between Black America and East Germany from 1949 to 1989, exploring the ways in which two unlikely partners used international solidarity to achieve goals of domestic importance. Despite the growing number of works addressing the black experience in and with Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany, West Germany, and contemporary Germany, few studies have devoted attention to the black experience in and with East Germany. In this work, the outline of this transatlantic relationship is defined, detailing who was involved in the friendship, why they were involved, and what they hoped to gain from this alliance. This dissertation argues that the GDR's ruling party utilized the relationship as a means of authenticating claims of East German anti-racism, a component of the Party's efforts to acquire legitimacy and diplomatic recognition from the international community in the wake of World War II, the Holocaust, and the division of Germany. African American radical leftists saw in East Germany a means of support and solidarity in the struggle for rights at home, as well as a society that was allegedly racism-free, upon which they could model their own attempts to eradicate racism in the US. Utilizing a transnational framework and analyzing government documents, newspapers, correspondence, photographs, and autobiographies, this work probes the ways in which two groups, pushed to the margins, sought to navigate the geopolitics of an ideologically-charged world.