Recounting his years amidst the ruins and deprivations of early postwar Germany, Oskar Matzerath, the dwarfish hero of The Tin Drum, the first and best-known novel of Nobel Prizewinning author Günter Grass, recalls that he educated himself ‘in the company of thousands determined to learn, to make up for the education they’d missed, took courses in night school, was a regular visitor at the British Centre, called Die Brücke, or The Bridge’ (Grass 2009: 398). By October 1946, a network of 35 information and education centres, suggestively named Die Brücke, had been set up by the British Embassy’s Cultural Relations Department in cities across the British occupation zone. Most of them contained no more than a few books and British newspapers, but those in Berlin and other major cities offered substantial libraries, English classes,

films, lectures, theatre, and exhibitions. A similar assortment of cultural fare was provided by a host of US-run reading rooms and information centres called Amerika Häuser, and by a growing number of French cultural institutes. In 1950 Germany had 64 Brücken, 48 Amerika Häuser and 110 reading rooms, as well as 18 French cultural institutes.