Extr’ord’nary people, the Germans’
Germans as aliens in post- war British popular culture
in The road to Brexit
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This chapter is concerned with post-war British perceptions of Germany. It is argued that by continuing to locate Germanness as the alien Other to Britishness in the post-war period, Britons could hold on to a secure sense of British identity and unity forged in wartime. Many post-war British novels, films and comic strips depicted Germans as alien to all humanity. While the 1960 film Sink the Bismarck! epitomises this tradition, the 1957 box-office hit The One That Got Away, starring the German actor Hardy Krüger and based on the true story of the prisoner of war Franz von Werra, challenged the stereotype. The fact that the dashing and good-looking Krüger exhibited character traits considered typical of British heroes, such as daring, wit and resourcefulness, led to uneasy and ambivalent responses in audiences and critics. Twelve years after the war, the humanness of Germans could still only be acknowledged in British popular culture as an anomaly.

The road to Brexit

A cultural perspective on British attitudes to Europe

Editor: Ina Habermann


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