chapter  7
21 Pages

The Turn to Local Communities in Early Post-War West Germany: The Case of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen, 1945–65

In 1945, Arthur Dickens, a Yorkshireman in the British Royal Artillery, took up a post as press supervisor in the Baltic town of Lübeck, a city for which he developed an odd local enthusiasm. 1 Taking regular nightly walks through the town ruins, he recorded his nocturnal ruminations on the local landscape, writing in his diary in July 1945 of his deep affection for Lübeck. 2 His position as press supervisor exposed him to the writings of local enthusiasts that proliferated in ruined German cities, which reminded him of the Yorkshire regionalists he knew from his youth. Dickens reacted positively to the turn to the local that took place in the ruins and saw it as anything but narrow, close-minded or reminiscent of Nazism, recording in his diary:

No man whose heart lies truly in his local history can, I like to hope, be utterly lost, and whatever one thinks of political regionalism in Germany, these local cults must at all cost be encouraged; apart from their intrinsic mental worth, they are the basis of a truer and better patriotism, as opposed to a state-engineered Chauvinism 3 .