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“Do you know what it’s like for a Negro to be among the ‘conquerors’ instead of the defeated? We learned about it for the first time when we ‘occupied’ Germany and none of us ever got over it. We will never go back to the old way again.“

William Gardner Smith, Interview in the New York Post (September 1959)



New Documentary:
"Ein Hauch von Freiheit" (Breath of Freedom)
December 16, 10:05pm CET on Arte
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"Breath of Freedom: Black Soldiers and the Battle for Civil Rights" (narrated by Cuba Gooding, Jr.)
Premiers February 17, 8pm ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel
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"Freed's enduring photos of march part of exhibit"
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Article by
Sophie Lorenz:
„Heldin des anderen Amerikas“
Die DDR-Solidaritätsbewegung
für Angela Davis, 1970–1973.
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New Film:
"The West Point -
Vassar College Initiative"
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A Breath of Freedom
By Maria Höhn &
Martin Klimke
Palgrave Macmillan October 2010
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Research Team

Sylvia Landau (University of Mainz)

Sylvia Landau is a student at the Johannes Gutenberg University located in Mainz (Germany). She studies history, journalism and linguistics.

After spending a semester abroad at the University of Auckland (New Zealand) and the University of Dijon (France), she is currently working as an intern for the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC.

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Sophie Lorenz (University of Heidelberg)

Sophie Lorenz Sophie Lorenz studied History, Political Science and Public Law at Heidelberg University from 2003 to 2009. In July 2009 she completed her M.A. with a thesis about Black Power, the student protest movement and Black-PantherSolidarity in West Germany during the 1960s and 1970s. Currently, Sophie teaches and works as research associate at the History Department at Heidelberg University. Since October 2009 she is a Ph.D. student in History at Heidelberg University and works  on her dissertation project “Transnational Solidarities: The GDR, Angela Davis and Black America.“

On October 13, 1970 Angela Davis was arrested and put on trial for being an accomplice to homicide. After that the German Democratic Republic (GDR) started a wide-ranging state-sponsored solidarity program for Angela Davis through which Davis became an East German heroine of the “Other America.“ This dissertation tracks the various expressions of support for Angela Davis in the GDR in particular and the crossings between the GDR and Black Americans in general both in terms of specific personal interactions and cultural perceptions. Thereby, despite the ostensible political isolation of the GDR by the Iron Curtain dividing East and West, a new dimension of Cold War relations between the U.S.A. and the GDR will become visible. At the same time, the study will add a new perspective to the international history of the black freedom struggle.

Sophie Lorenz: „Heldin des anderen Amerikas.“ Die DDR-Solidaritätsbewegung für Angela Davis, 1970–1973,
in: Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History, Online-Ausgabe, 10 (2013), H. 1.

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Laura Stapane (HCA Heidelberg)

stapane_web_sw Laura Stapane studied History of Art and Media Studies, History and Political Science at the University of Oldenburg. After finishing her MA thesis about family portraits as a reflection of the bourgeois culture in the late 19th century (“The Wilhelmine Bourgeoisie as Depicted in Art: An Analysis of its Self-Presentation in Family Portraits“), she worked at the KHI (Kunsthistorisches Institut) in Florence (Italy) and the German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington, DC.

She is currently working for the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) at the University of Heidelberg as a research fellow and project coordinator, where she is responsible for the coordination of the research, digitization, and exhibition project “The Civil Rights Struggle, African-American GIs, and Germany“ as well as for “The Nuclear Crisis - Transatlantic Peace Politics, Rearmament, and the Second Cold War“ (www.nuclearcrisis.org) project. 

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For a list of past research associates, please see here.

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