Shakespeare and British Occupation Policy in Germany, 1945-1949


Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work




Hood College Graduate School

Citation of Original Publication



Following World War II, the United Kingdom was responsible for occupying a section of Germany. While the British were initially focused on demilitarization and reparations, their goals quickly changed to that of rehabilitation and democratization. In order to accomplish their policy goals, they enlisted the help William Shakespeare, a playwright who had always found favor on the German stage. The British, recognizing that the Germans were hungry for entertainment and were looking for escape, capitalized on this love for Shakespeare by putting his plays back on the stage. Their hope was to influence the Germans into being better members of society by showing them classic plays that aligned with their occupation goals of restoring religion and promoting democracy in the region. Shakespeare’s timelessness, his ability to reach a broad audience, and the German familiarity with the playwright is the reason why his plays were especially influential in post-World War II Germany.