Maren Roth: “In a Past Life I was a European” – Melvin J. Lasky as Transatlantic Mediator in the Cultural Cold War’


In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2014. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 139–156.

In the “war of ideas” between the United States and the Soviet Union that began shortly after the end of the Second World War, the American government aimed at culturally integrating Western European societies. In this ambitious undertaking in which democratic and anti-communist values and beliefs needed to be fostered and transferred, the American government heavily depended on the commitment and mediation of individual persons. One of these mediators was Melvin J. Lasky. As an American whose early years in New York were deeply influenced by a positive notion of Europe – and especially of Germany – and who from 1946 until his death continuously lived in Europe, Lasky not only led a quintessentially transatlantic life. He also – throughout his professional career – assumed the role of a transatlantic mediator between the American and European as well as the inner-European cultural and intellectual worlds. Being a major and at times quite controversial figure in what became known as the ‘Cultural Cold War’ he was one of the founders of the Congress for Cultural Freedom and the editor of two important intellectual literary journals in postwar Europe, Der Monat in Berlin and Encounter in London. The ambitious and constantly networking Lasky with his myriad American and European contacts thus became one of the best connected intellectual agents of the US.

Über die Autorin

Maren Roth, Dr. phil., geb. 1971 in Freiburg, 1990–1996 Studium der Amerikanischen Kulturgeschichte, Politischen Wissenschaft und Betriebswirtschaftslehre in München, Berkeley und Orleans, Promotion 2003. Seit 2003 am Amerika-Institut der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität tätig. 2008–2011 als Mitarbeiterin im Projekt »Amerikanische Europakonstruktionen und Transatlantische Politik 1945 bis zur Gegenwart« zuständig für die Sortierung und Auswertung des Nachlasses von Melvin J. Lasky sowie Arbeit an einer Biografie Laskys. Seit 2011 Direktorin des Lasky Archivs und Research Associate am Lasky Center for Transatlantic Studies. Veröffentlichungen u. a.: Mithg.: Melvin Lasky. New York – Berlin – London, München 2010 (mit Charlotte Lerg); »Erziehung zur Demokratie«. Amerikanische Demokratisierungshilfe im postsozialistischen Bulgarien, Münster 2005.