The bifurcation of Germany during the Cold War induced the two German states to compete around the world over German cultural sovereignty, as they offered rival conceptions of what it meant to be German. The contest over this matter was fueled not only by the division of Germany but also by the military occupation. With restrictions imposed on both governments in their foreign policy activities during the early Cold War, foreign cultural diplomacy (auswärtige Kulturpolitik), a form of proxy diplomacy developed in the interwar period, became a crucial means of forging ties with countries outside Europe. This article traces how the two German governments sent language teachers, artists, academics, musicians, and exchange students to Asia as cultural ambassadors in a bid to reestablish a German presence. Divided countries along the Bamboo Curtain, especially the People's Republic of China, became the most important battlegrounds in the competition for hegemony in representing Germany in Asia. The need to engage in foreign cultural diplomacy also brought Asian ideological conflicts home to Germany. Exchange visitors and their governments tried to achieve their own interests by steering a middle course between the two German states. Foreign cultural diplomacy thus was an essential—and complicated—part of “soft power” for both German governments in trying to win over foreign audiences.

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