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Exi (subculture)

The Exis (pronounced "Exies") were a youth movement in Hamburg, Germany, in the 1950s. The Exis took their name from the existentialist movement, and were influenced by its chief proponents, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. There are similar German nicknames for other movements, such as "Sozis" (Socialists) and the "Nazis" (National Socialists).

Quite a few of the Hamburg fans of The Beatles, in the period 1960–62, regarded themselves as "Exis". In some ways, the Exis were the spiritual successors of the Swing Kids of the 1930s. Both movements were heavily influenced by the prevailing popular culture and music of the United States, whether 1930s Jazz, in the case of the Swing Kids or 1950s Rock and Roll, in the case of the Exis.

Aside from the utterly transformed political and cultural atmosphere in Germany after the war, the biggest difference between the two movements was that, where the Swing Kids wholeheartedly embraced American culture (right down to zoot suits and bobby socks), Exis generally wanted to show that they could think for themselves, as many young people do.

One of the factors, which had strengthened the link between British musical acts and the Hamburg clubs, was the presence of large numbers of British servicemen (see British Army of the Rhine), in the north-west of Germany. In the aftermath of the Second World War, it became common practice for music promoters in north Western Germany, a number of whom were British themselves, to book British acts. However, some parts of Hamburg were off limits to soldiers and airmen and they never seem to have had the influence, which one might have expected, in the post-war development of St Pauli. This was partly because of the changing political and legal position. After 1955, they were "guests" on the territory of an ally and NATO member. Before the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany (i.e. West Germany) in 1949, the British forces had actually governed their sector.



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