German–American relations are the historic relations between Germany and the United States at the official level, including diplomacy, alliances and warfare. The topic also includes economic relations such as trade and investments, demography and migration, and cultural and intellectual interchanges since the 1680s.


Before 1900, the main factors in German-American relations were very large movements of immigrants from Germany to American states (especially Pennsylvania) and to the Midwestern United States and central Texas throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.[1]

There also was a significant movement of philosophical ideas that influenced American thinking. German achievements in public schooling and higher education greatly impressed American educators; the American education system was based on the Prussian education system. Thousands of American advanced students- especially scientists and historians, studied at elite German universities. There existed little movement in the other direction: few Americans ever moved permanently to Germany, and few German intellectuals studied in America or moved to the United States before 1933. Economic relations were of minor importance before 1920. Diplomatic relations were friendly but of minor importance to either side before the 1870s.[2]

After the Unification of Germany in 1871, Germany became a major world power. Both nations built world-class navies and began imperialistic expansion around the world. This led to a small-scale conflict over the Samoan islands, the Second Samoan Civil War. It reached a crisis in 1898 when Germany, Great Britain and the United States disputed over who should take control. The conflict was resolved with the Tripartite Convention in 1899 when the two nations divided up Samoa between them.[3]

After 1898, the United States itself became much more involved in international diplomacy and found itself sometimes in disagreement but more often in agreement with Germany. In the early 20th century, the rise of the powerful German Navy and its role in Latin America and the Caribbean troubled American military strategists. Relations were sometimes tense, as in the Venezuelan crisis of 1902–03 but all were resolved.[4]

The United States tried to remain neutral in the First World War, but it provided far more trade and financial support to Britain and the Allies, which controlled the Atlantic routes. Germany worked to undermine American interests in Mexico. In 1917 the German offer of a military alliance against the U.S. in the Zimmermann Telegram contributed to the American decision for war.[5] German submarine attacks on British shipping, especially the sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania without allowing the civilian passengers to reach the lifeboats, outraged American opinion. Germany agreed to American demands to stop such attacks but reversed its position in early 1917 to win the war quickly. Berlin mistakenly thought that the US Army and Navy were so weak that they would not play a decisive role.

The US public opposed the punitive Versailles Treaty of 1919, and the two countries signed a separate peace treaty in 1921. In the 1920s, American diplomats and bankers provided major assistance to rebuilding the German economy. When Hitler and the Nazis took power in 1933, American public opinion was highly negative. Relations between the two nations turned sour after 1938.

Large numbers of intellectuals, scientists, and artists found refuge from the Nazis in the United States, but American immigration policy strictly limited the number of Jewish refugees. Washington provided significant military and financial aid to Britain and France. Germany declared war on the United States in December 1941, so Washington made the defeat of Nazi Germany its highest priority. The United States played a major role in the occupation and reconstruction of Germany after 1945. The United States provided billions of dollars in aid via the Marshall Plan to rebuild the German economy. The two nations relationship became very positive, in terms of democratic ideals, anti-communism, and high levels of economic trade.

Today, the United States is one of Germany's closest allies and partners outside of the European Union.[6] The people of the two countries see each other as reliable allies; however, they disagree on some key policy issues. Americans want Germany to play a more active military role, but Germans strongly disagree.[7]

Country comparison

Germany United States
Coat of Arms Coat of arms of Germany.svg Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg
Flag Germany United States
Population 82,800,000 326,938,000
Area 357,168 km² (137,847 sq mi) 9,526,468 km² (3,794,066 sq mi)[8]
Population density 232/km² (601/sq mi) 31/km² (80/sq mi)
Capital Berlin Washington, D.C.
Largest city Berlin – 3,690,000 (6,004,857 Metro) New York City – 8,175,133 (19,006,798 Metro)
Government Federal parliamentary republic Federal presidential constitutional republic
First Leader Konrad Adenauer George Washington
Current Leader Angela Merkel Donald Trump
Official languages German (de facto and de jure) English (de facto)
Main religions 57.9% Christianity, 36.2% non-religious, 4.9% Islam, 1.0% other[9] 70.6% Christianity (46.5% Protestantism, 20.8% Catholicism, 1.6% Mormonism, 1.7% Other Christianity), 22.8% non-Religious, 1.9% Judaism, 0.9% Islam, 0.7% Buddhism, 0.7% Hinduism[10]
Ethnic groups 81.3% German, 3.4% Turkish, 2.3% Polish, 1.5% Russian, 11.5% other[citation needed] 74% White American, 13.4% African American,
6.5% Some other race, 4.4% Asian American, 2% Two or more races,
0.7% Native American or Native Alaskan, 0.14% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander[citation needed]
GDP (nominal) $3.65 trillion[11] $19.36 trillion[12]
German Americans 99,891 American born people living in Germany[13] 50,764,352 people of German ancestry living in the USA[citation needed]
Military expenditures $41.3 billion (FY 2017) (see Bundeswehr) $582.7 billion (FY 2017) (see Military budget of the United States)

Leaders of Germany and United States from 1991

George H. W. Bush Bill Clinton George W. Bush Barack Obama Donald Trump Helmut Kohl Gerhard Schröder Angela Merkel United States Germany

German immigration to the United States

Self-reported ancestry of the population of the United States (by countries, 2001)
Largest self-reported ancestries in the United States (2000)

For over three centuries, immigration from Germany accounted for a large share of all American immigrants. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, more than 20% of all Americans, and 25% of white Americans, claim German descent. German-Americans are an assimilated group which influences political life in the US as a whole. They are the most common self-reported ethnic group in the northern half of the United States, especially in the Midwest. In most of the South, German Americans are less common, with the exception of Florida and Texas.


The first records of German immigration date back to the 17th century and the foundation of Germantown near Philadelphia in 1683. Immigration from Germany to the US reached its first peak between 1749 and 1754 when approximately 37,000 Germans came to North America.


Since 1848, about seven million Germans have emigrated to the United States. Many of these Germans settled in the cities of Chicago, Detroit and New York. The failed German Revolutions of 1848 accelerated emigration from Germany. Those Germans who left as a result of the revolution were called the Forty-Eighters. Between the revolution and the start of World War I over one million Germans settled in the United States.

These Germans endured hardship as a result of overcrowded ships; Typhus fever spread rapidly throughout the ships due to the cramped conditions. On average, it took Germans six months to get to United States and many died on the journey to the New World.

By 1890 more than 40 percent of the population of the cities of Cleveland, Milwaukee, Hoboken and Cincinnati were of German origin. By the end of the nineteenth century, Germans formed the biggest self-described ethnic group in the United States and their customs became a strong element in American society and culture.

Political participation of German-Americans was focused on involvement in the labor movement. Germans in America had a strong influence on the labor movement in the United States. Newly founded labor unions enabled German immigrants to improve their working conditions and to integrate into American society.

Since 1914

A combination of patriotism and anti-German sentiment during the two world wars caused most German-Americans to cut their former ties and assimilate into mainstream American culture. During the time of the Third Reich, Germany had another major emigration wave of German Jews and other political refugees.

Today, German-Americans form the largest self-reported ancestry group in the United States[14] with California and Pennsylvania having the highest number of German Americans.

Diplomacy and trade

During the American Revolution (1775-1783) King Frederick the Great of Prussia strongly hated the British because they had abandoned him in 1761, during the Seven Years' War. He now favored France and impeded Britain's war effort in subtle ways, such as blocking the passage of Hessians. However, British trade was too important to lose and there was risk of attack from Austria, so he pursued a peace policy and maintained an official strict neutrality.[15][16]

After the war, direct trade between the American ports of Philadelphia and Baltimore and the old Hanseatic ports of Bremen, Hamburg, and Luebeck grew steadily. Americans exported tobacco, rice, cotton, and sugar and imported textiles, metal products, colognes, brandies, and toiletries. The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) and increasing instability in Germany led to a decline in the economic relationships between the United States and the Hanse. The level of trade never came close to matching the trade with Britain, and it faltered because the U.S. delayed a commercial treaty until 1827. American diplomacy was ineffective, but the commercial counsuls, local businessmen, handled their work so well that the US successfully developed diplomatic ties with Prussia. However, trade was minimal.[17]

It was Prussia that took the initiative, sending a trade experts to Washington DC in 1834. The first permanent American diplomat came in 1835, when Henry Wheaton was sent to Prussia. The American Secretary of State said that "not a single point of controversy exists between the two countries calling for adjustment; and that their commercial intercourse, based upon treaty stipulations, is conducted upon those liberal and enlightened principles of reciprocity... which are gradually making their way against the narrow prejudices and blighting influences of the prohibitive system."[18]

During the American Civil War, the German states all favored the Union, but played no major role. In 1876 the German commissioner for the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia stated that the German armaments, machines, arts, and crafts on display were of inferior quality to British and American products. Germany industrialized rapidly but its competition was more with Britain than with the US. It bought increasing amounts of American farm products, especially cotton, wheat and tobacco, but tried to block American meat.[19]

After unification in 1871, Germany built a world-class navy, and began imperialistic expansion around the world. In the South Pacific, the strategic location of Samoa attracted American, German and British interests. They came into conflict in the 1880s; in 1899, the islands were divided between the United States and Germany. The United States took full control in 1914.[20]


In the late 19th century the German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) sought to establish a coaling station somewhere in the Caribbean. Germany was rapidly building a world-class navy but coal burning warships needed frequent refueling and could only operate within range of a coaling station. Preliminary plans were vetoed by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who did not want to antagonize the US. He was ousted in 1890, and the Germans kept looking.[21]

German naval planners in the 1890–1910 era denounced the Monroe Doctrine as a self-aggrandizing legal pretension. They were even more concerned with the possible American canal, as it would lead to full American hegemony in the Caribbean. The stakes were laid out in the German war aims proposed by the Navy in 1903: a "firm position in the West Indies," a "free hand in South America," and an official "revocation of the Monroe Doctrine" would provide a solid foundation for "our trade to the West Indies, Central and South America."[22] By 1900 American "naval planners were obsessed with German designs in the hemisphere and countered with energetic efforts to secure naval sites in the Caribbean."[23]

In the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903, Britain and Germany sent warships to blockade Venezuela after it defaulted on its foreign loan repayments. Germany intended to land troops and occupy Venezuelan ports, but U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt forced the Germans to back down by sending his own fleet and threatening war if the Germans landed.[24]

By 1904, German naval strategists had turned its attention to Mexico, where they hoped to establish a naval base in a Mexican port on the Caribbean. They dropped that plan, but it became active again after 1911, the start of the Mexican Civil War.[25]

World War I

New York Times April 3, 1917

During World War I, the United States initially sought isolation, but eventually joined the Allied powers. The German Navy waged unrestricted warfare across the Atlantic Ocean often resulting in American casualties. Berlin refused to stop the unrestricted naval bombardments. Ultimately, the Zimmermann Telegram, a top secret message sent from the German Empire to Mexico was the catalyst which brought America into the war. The details of the plan infuriated Americans; Germany suggested an invasion of the U.S. by Mexico if America entered the war. This would keep the U.S. from deploying troops to Europe and Germany would still be able to wage unrestricted naval warfare to cut British supplies. In return, when the war was won by the Central Powers, Mexico would be rewarded with the territory lost during the Mexican–American War.

President Woodrow Wilson convinced Congress to declare war on Germany in April 1917. The United States expected to provide money, munitions, food and raw materials but did not expect the same large troop contingents until Washington realized how weak the Allies were on the Western Front. After the exit of Russia from the war in late 1917, Germany could reallocate 600,000 experienced troops to their Western Front. American troops arrived in large numbers in the summer of 1918, replacing all the allied losses while the British Army shrank day by day.

In the United States, the loyalty of German-Americans were frequently challenged. Any significant German cultural impact was seen with intense hostility and suspicion. Germany was portrayed as a threat to American freedom and way of life. In Germany, the United States was another enemy and denounced as a false liberator, wanting to dominate Europe itself. As the war ended, however, the German people embraced Wilsonian promises of the just peace treaty.



Economic and diplomatic relations were positive during the 1920s. The United States government rejected the harsh anti-German Versailles Treaty of 1920, and signed a new peace treaty that involved no punishment for Germany, and worked with Britain to create a viable Euro-Atlantic peace system.[26] Ambassador Alanson B. Houghton (1922–25) believed that world peace, European stability, and American prosperity depended upon a reconstruction of Europe's economy and political systems. He saw his role as promoting American political engagement with Europe. He overcame domestic opposition, and disinterest in Washington. He quickly realized that the central issues of the day were all entangled in economics, especially war debts owed by the Allies to the United States, reparations owed by Germany to the Allies, worldwide inflation, and international trade and investment. Solutions, he believed, required new policies by Washington and close cooperation with Britain and Germany. He was a leading promoter of the Dawes Plan.[27]

Although the high culture of Germany looked down upon American culture, jazz was widely accepted by the younger generation. Hollywood had an enormous influence, as did the Detroit model of industrial efficiency.[28][29][30]

German influence on American society was limited during that period. The flow of migration into the United States was small, and young American scholars seldom attended German universities for graduate work.[citation needed]

The U.S. government took the lead through the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan.[31]

New York banks played a major role in financing the rebuilding of the Germany economy.[32][33] The German right was suspicious of modernity as represented by the United States.[34]

Nazi Era 1933–41

Public opinion in the U.S. was strongly negative toward Nazi Germany and Hitler, but there was also a strong aversion to war and to entanglement in European politics.[35] The Roosevelt administration publicly hailed the Munich Agreement of 1938 for avoiding war but privately realized it was only a postponement that called for rapid rearming.[36] Formal relations were cool until November 1938, then turned very cold. The key event was American revulsion against Kristallnacht, the nationwide German assault on Jews and Jewish institutions. Religious groups which had been pacifistic also turned hostile.[37] While the total flow of refugees from Germany to the U.S. was relatively small during the 1930s, many intellectuals did escape and resettled in the United States.[38] Many were Jewish.[39] Catholic universities were strengthened by the arrival of German Catholic intellectuals in exile, such as Waldemar Gurian at Notre Dame.[40]

Hollywood edited films for Nazi Germany. [41] [42]

World War II

As Second World War began in September 1939, the U.S. was officially neutral until December 1941 when Germany declared war on U.S. Franklin Roosevelt's foreign policy strongly favored Britain (and France) over Germany in 1939–41. The United States played a central role in the defeat of the Axis Powers, meaning relations between Berlin and Washington, D.C. were inevitably terrible. Nazi Germany used American participation as one of the leaders of the Allies for extensive propaganda value—the infamous "LIBERATORS" poster from 1944 may be the most powerful example.

In the poster, which is shown in this article, the United States of America is depicted as a monstrous, vicious war machine seeking to destroy European culture. The poster alludes to many negative aspects of American history, including the Ku Klux Klan, the oppression of Native Americans, and lynching of blacks. The poster condemns American capitalism, America's perceived dominance by Judaism and shows American bombs destroying a helpless European village. However, America launched several propaganda campaigns in return towards Nazi Germany often portraying Nazi Germany as a warmongering country with inferior morale, and brainwashing schemes.

Post war

Following the defeat of the Third Reich, American forces were one of the occupation powers in postwar Germany. In parallel to denazification and "industrial disarmament" American citizens fraternized with Germans. The Berlin Airlift from 1948–1949 and the Marshall Plan (1948–1952) further improved the Germans' perception of Americans.

Cold War

John F. Kennedy meeting with Willy Brandt, in the White House, March 13, 1961.

The emergence of the Cold War made the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) the frontier of a democratic Western Europe and American military presence became an integral part in West German society. The American presence may have helped smooth over possibly awkward postwar relationships, had they not come under the aegis of the biggest intact army and economy. This lessened the lag before the formation of the precursors to today's EU, and may be seen as a silent benefit of Pax Americana. During the Cold War, West Germany developed into the largest economy in Europe and West German-U.S. relations developed into a new transatlantic partnership. Germany and the U.S. shared a large portion of their culture, established intensive global trade environment and continued to co-operate on new high technologies. However, German-American cooperation wasn't always free of tensions between differing approaches on both sides of the Atlantic. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent reunification of Germany marked a new era in German-American relations.

U.S. and East Germany

Interessengemeinschaft Mandan-Indianer Leipzig 1970, the popular image of Native Americans made Indian living history quite popular in communist Eastern Germany

Relations between the United States and East Germany remained hostile. United States followed the Adenauer's Hallstein Doctrine of 1955, which declared that recognition by any country of East Germany would be treated as an unfriendly act by West Germany. Relations between the two Germanies thawed somewhat in the 1970s, as part of the overall détente between East and West. United States recognized East Germany officially in September 1974, when Erich Honecker was East Germany's party leader. To ward off the risk of internal liberalization on his regime, Honecker enlarged the Stasi from 43,000 to 60,000 agents.[43]

The East German regime imposed an official ideology that was reflected in all its media and all the schools. The official line stated that the United States had caused the breakup of the coalition against Adolf Hitler and had become the bulwark of reaction worldwide, with a heavy reliance on warmongering for the benefit of the "terrorist international of murderers on Wall Street." East Germans had a heroic role to play as a front-line against the evil Americans. However few Germans believed it. They had seen enough of the Russians since 1945—a half-million Soviets were still stationed in East Germany as late as 1989. Furthermore, they were exposed to information from relatives in the West, as well as the American Radio Free Europe broadcasts, and West German media. The official Communist media ridiculed the modernism and cosmopolitanism of American culture, and denigrated the features of the American way of life, especially jazz music and rock 'n roll. The East German regime relied heavily on its tight control of youth organizations to rally them, with scant success, against American popular culture. The older generations were more concerned with the poor quality of food, housing, and clothing, which stood in dramatic contrast to the prosperity of West Germany. Professionals in East Germany were watched for any sign of deviation from the party line; their privileges were at risk. The solution was to either comply or flee to West Germany, which was relatively easy before the crackdown and the Berlin wall of 1961.[44] Americans saw East Germany simply as a puppet of Moscow, with no independent possibilities.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel with U.S. President Barack Obama in February 2015

During the early 1990s the reunified Germany was called a "partnership in leadership" as the U.S. emerged as the world's sole superpower.

Germany's effort to incorporate any major military actions into the slowly progressing European Security and Defence Policy did not meet the expectations of the U.S. during the Gulf War. After the September 11 attacks, German-American political relations were strengthened in an effort to combat terrorism, and Germany sent troops to Afghanistan as part of the NATO force. Yet, discord continued over the Iraq War, when then German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and foreign minister Joschka Fischer made efforts to prevent war and consequently did not join the U.S. and UK led multinational force in Iraq.[45][46] Anti-Americanism rose to the surface after the attacks of 11 September 2001 as hostile German intellectuals argued there were ugly links between globalization, Americanization, and terrorism.[47]

In response to the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures, Germany cancelled the 1968 intelligence sharing agreement with the USA and UK.[48]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with U.S. President Donald Trump in March 2017

In July 2014, two Bundesnachrichtendienst officials were arrested by federal prosecutors for allegedly spying on the German government for the C.I.A.. Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the coordinator of CIA activity at Berlin's U.S. Embassy to leave his diplomatic post.[49] In response to the arrests, Merkel said, "Viewed with good common sense, spying on friends and allies is a waste of energy. In the cold war it may have been the case that there was mutual mistrust. Today we live in the 21st century."[50] The arrests followed the revelation that the NSA tapped the chancellor's cellphone.[51] German attempts to be included in the non-spying pact the US has with the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada were fruitless.[52] Merkel on 18 July 2014 said trust could only be restored through talks and Germany would seek to have such talks. She reiterated the U.S. was Germany's most important ally, and nothing about their relationship would change.[53] Nevertheless, German government officials in Berlin strengthened counterintelligence and planned new security measures in anticipation of prolonged frosty relations with the United States.[54]

In May 2017, Angela Merkel met with U.S. president Donald Trump. Trump's nationalist sentiments had already strained relations with several EU countries and other American allies, to the point where Merkel said after a NATO summit "The times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over,"[55] This came after Trump had said "The Germans are bad, very bad" and "See the millions of cars they are selling to the U.S. Terrible. We will stop this."[56]

Perceptions and values in the two countries

The exploits of gunslingers on the American frontier played a major role in American folklore, fiction and film. The same stories became immensely popular in Germany, which produced its own novels and films about the American frontier. Karl May (1842–1912) was a German writer best known for his adventure novels set in the American Old West. His main protagonists are Winnetou and Old Shatterhand.[57][58] The German fascination with Native Americans dates to the early 19th century; its literature voluminous. Typically the writings focus on "Indianness" and authenticity.[59]

Germany and the United States are civil societies. Germany's philosophical heritage and American spirit for "freedom" interlock to a central aspect of Western culture and Western civilization. Even though developed under different geographical settings, the Age of Enlightenment is fundamental to the self-esteem and understanding of both nations.

The American-led invasion of Iraq changed the perception of the U.S. in Germany significantly. A 2013 BBC World Service poll shows found that 35% find American influence to be positive while 39% view it to be negative.[60] Both countries differ in many key areas, such as energy and military intervention.

A survey conducted on behalf of the German embassy in 2007 showed that Americans continued to regard Germany's failure to support the war in Iraq as the main irritant in relations between the two nations. The issue was of declining importance, however, and Americans still considered Germany to be their fourth most important international partner behind the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan. Americans considered economic cooperation to be the most positive aspect of U.S.-German relations with a much smaller role played by Germany in U.S. politics.[61]

Among the nations of Western Europe, German public perception of the U.S. is unusual in that it has continually fluctuated back and forth from fairly positive in 2002 (60%), to considerably negative in 2007 (30%), back to mildly positive in 2012 (52%), and considerably negative in 2017 (20%),[62][63] reflecting the sharply polarized and mixed feelings of the German people for the United States.


During the Cold War, anti-Americanism was the official government policy in East Germany, and dissenters were punished. In West Germany, anti-Americanism was the common position on the left, but the majority praised America as a protector against communism and a critical ally in rebuilding the nation.[64] After 1990, the Communist Party in the East struggled on under a new name, 'Die Linke", and maintained its old anti-American position. Today it warns that America is plotting to spoil Germany's friendly relationship with Russia. Germany's refusal to support the American war on Iraq in 2003 was often seen as a manifestation of anti-Americanism.[65] Anti-Americanism had been muted on the right since 1945, but reemerged in the 21st century especially in the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party that began in opposition to European Union, and now has become both anti-American and anti-immigrant. Annoyance or distrust of the Americans was heightened in 2013 by revelations of American spying on top German officials, including Chancellor Merkel.[66]

Military relations

Statue of General von Steuben at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania
Defence ministers James Mattis (U.S.) and Ursula von der Leyen (Germany) meeting in Washington, D.C.

German-American military relations began in the Revolution when German troops fought on both sides. Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a former Captain in the Prussian Army, was appointed Inspector General of the Continental Army and played the major role in training American soldiers to the best European standards. Von Steuben is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the United States Army, despite his homosexuality.

Another German that served during the American Revolution was Major General Johann de Kalb, who served under Horatio Gates at the Battle of Camden and died as a result of several wounds he sustained during the fighting.

About 30,000 German mercenaries fought for the British, with 17,000 hired from Hesse, amounting to about one in four of the adult male population of the principality. These Hessians fought under their own officers under British command. Leopold Philip de Heister, Wilhelm von Knyphausen, and Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Lossberg were the principal generals who commanded these troops with Frederick Christian Arnold, Freiherr von Jungkenn as the senior German officer.[67]

German Americans have been very influential in the American military. Some notable figures include Brigadier General August Kautz, Major General Franz Sigel, General of the Armies John J. Pershing, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, and General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr..

Germany and the United States are joint NATO members. The U.S. currently has approximately 30,000 American troops stationed in southern Germany. During the Cold War the number of U.S. troops based in West Germany was much higher. Both nations have cooperated closely in the War on Terror, with Germany providing more troops than any other nation. The two nations; however, have opposing public policy positions in the War in Iraq. While Germany may have blocked U.S. efforts to secure UN Resolutions in the buildup to war, they continued to support U.S. interests in southwest Asia quietly. German soldiers operated military biological and chemical cleanup equipment at Camp Doha in Kuwait; German Navy ships secured sea lanes to deter attacks by Al Qaeda on U.S. Forces and equipment in the Persian Gulf; and soldiers from Germany's Bundeswehr deployed all across southern Germany to U.S. Military Bases to conduct Force Protection duties in place of German-based U.S. Soldiers who were deployed to the Iraq War. The latter mission lasted from 2002 until 2006. As of 2006 nearly all these Bundeswehr have been demobilized.[68]

The United States established a permanent military presence in Germany during the Second World War that continued throughout the Cold War and then was drawn down in the early 21st Century, with the last American tanks withdrawn from Germany in 2013.[69] The American tanks returned the next year, when the gap in multinational training opportunities was noticed.[70]

Economic relations

Economic relations between Germany and the United States are largely untroubled. The Transatlantic Economic Partnership between the U.S. and the EU, which was launched in 2007 on Germany’s initiative, and the subsequently created Transatlantic Economic Council open up additional opportunities. The U.S. is Germany’s principal trading partner outside the EU and Germany is the U.S.’s most important trading partner in Europe. In terms of the total volume of U.S. bilateral trade (imports and exports), Germany remains in fifth place, behind Canada, China, Mexico and Japan. The U.S. ranks fourth among Germany’s trading partners, after the Netherlands, China and France. At the end of 2013, bilateral trade was worth $162 billion.

Germany and the U.S. are important to each other as investment destinations. At the end of 2012, bilateral investment was worth $320 billion, German direct investment in the U.S. amounting to $199 billion and U.S. direct investment in Germany $121 billion.

At the end of 2012, U.S. direct investment in Germany stood at approximately $121 billion, an increase of nearly 14 per cent compared with the previous year (approximately $106 billion). During the same period, German direct investment in the U.S. amounted to some $199 billion, below the previous year’s level (approximately $215 billion). Germany is the eighth largest foreign investor in the U.S., after the United Kingdom, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg, and ranks eleventh as a destination for U.S. foreign direct investment.

Cultural relations

Karl May was a prolific German writer who specialized in writing Westerns. Although he only visited America once towards the end of his life, May provided Germany with a series of frontier novels, which provided Germans with an imaginary view of America.

Notable German-American architects, artist, musicians and writers include:

German takes third place after Spanish and French among the foreign languages taught at American secondary schools, colleges and universities. Conversely, nearly half of the German population can speak English well.

Research and academic exchange

The contributions of German and American scientists to various fields of science are numerous. The cooperation between academics from both countries is extensive. Since the middle of the 20th century, German scientists have provided invaluable contributions to American technological advancement. For example, Wernher von Braun, who built the German V-2 rockets, and his team of scientists came to the United States and were central in building the American space exploration program.[71]

After World War II and during the Cold War, Operation Paperclip was a secret United States Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) program in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians (many of whom were formerly registered members of the Nazi Party and some of whom had leadership roles in the Nazi Party), including Wernher von Braun's rocket team, were recruited and brought to the United States for government employment from post-Nazi Germany.[72][73]

Researchers at German and American universities run various exchange programs and projects, and focus on space exploration, the International Space Station, environmental technology, and medical science. Import cooperations are also in the fields of biochemistry, engineering, information and communication technologies and life sciences (networks through: Bacatec, DAAD). The United States and Germany signed a bilateral Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation in February 2010.[74]

American cultural institutions in Germany

In the post-war era, a number of institutions, devoted to highlighting American culture and society in Germany, were established and are in existence today, especially in the south of Germany, the area of the former U.S. Occupied Zone. Today, they offer English courses as well as cultural programs.

Diplomatic missions

See also

Notable organizations


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  • Barclay, David E., and Elisabeth Glaser-Schmidt, eds. Transatlantic Images and Perceptions: Germany and America since 1776 (Cambridge UP, 1997).
  • Gatzke, Hans W. Germany and the United States: A "Special Relationship?" (Harvard University Press, 1980); History of diplomatic relations.
  • Jonas, Manfred. The United States and Germany: a diplomatic history (Cornell University Press, 1985), a standard scholarly survey. excerpt
  • Trefousse, Hans Louis, ed. Germany and America: essays on problems of international relations and immigration (Brooklyn College Press, 1980), essays by scholars.
  • Trommler, Frank and Joseph McVeigh, eds. America and the Germans: An Assessment of a Three-Hundred-Year History (2 vol. U of Pennsylvania Press, 1990) vol 2 online; detailed coverage in vol 2.
  • Trommler, Frank, and Elliott Shore, eds. The German-American Encounter: conflict and cooperation between two cultures, 1800–2000 (2001), essays by cultural scholars.

Pre 1933

  • Adam, Thomas and Ruth Gross, ed. Traveling Between Worlds: German-American Encounters (Texas A&M University Press, 2006), primary sources.
  • Adams, Henry Mason. Prussian-American Relations: 1775-1871 (1960).
  • Bönker, Dirk (2012). Militarism in a Global Age: Naval Ambitions in Germany and the United States before World War I. Cornell U.P. 
  • Diehl, Carl. "Innocents abroad: American students in German universities, 1810-1870." History of Education Quarterly 16#3 (1976): 321-341. in JSTOR
  • Dippel, Horst. Germany and the American Revolution, 1770–1800 (1977), Showed a deep intellectual impact on Germany of the American Revolution.
  • Doerries, Reinhard R. Imperial Challenge: Ambassador Count Bernstorff and German-American Relations, 1908–1917 (1989).
  • Faust, Albert Bernhardt. The German Element in the United States with Special Reference to Its Political, Moral, Social, and Educational Influence. 2 vol (1909). vol. 1, vol. 2
  • Gazley, John Gerow. American Opinion of German Unification, 1848–1871 (1926). Noonan online
  • Gienow-Hecht, Jessica C. E. "Trumpeting Down the Walls of Jericho: The Politics of Art, Music and Emotion in German-American Relations, 1870-1920," Journal of Social History (2003) 36#3
  • Haworth, Paul Leland. "Frederick the Great and the American Revolution" American Historical Review (1904) 9#3 pp. 460–478 open access in JSTOR, Frederick hated England but kept Prussia neutral.
  • Herwig, Holger H. Politics of frustration: the United States in German naval planning, 1889–1941 (1976).
  • Junker, Detlef. The Manichaean Trap: American Perceptions of the German Empire, 1871–1945 (German Historical Institute, 1995).
  • Keim, Jeannette. Forty years of German-American political relations (1919) online, Comprehensive analysis of major issues, including tariff, China, Monroe Doctrine.
  • Leab, Daniel J. "Screen Images of the 'Other' in Wilhelmine Germany and the United States, 1890-1918." Film History 9#1 (1997): 49-70. in JSTOR
  • Lingelbach, William E. "Saxon-American Relations, 1778-1828." American Historical Review 17#3 (1912): 517-539. online
  • Link, Arthur S. Wilson: The Struggle for Neutrality, 1914–1915 (1960). vol 3 of his biography of Woodrow Wilson; vol 4 and 5 cover 1915–1917.
  • Maurer, John H. "American naval concentration and the German battle fleet, 1900–1918." Journal of Strategic Studies 6#2 (1983): 147-181.
  • Mitchell, Nancy. The danger of dreams: German and American imperialism in Latin America (1999).
  • Mustafa, Sam A. Merchants and Migrations: Germans and Americans in Connection, 1776–1835 (2001).
  • Pochmann, Henry A. German Culture in America: Philosophical and Literary Influences 1600–1900 (1957). 890pp; comprehensive review of German influence on Americans esp 19th century. online
  • Schoonover, Thomas. Germany in Central America: Competitive Imperialism, 1821–1929(1998) online
  • Schröder, Hans-Jürgen, ed. Confrontation and cooperation: Germany and the United States in the era of World War I, 1900–1924 (1993).
  • Schwabe, Klaus "Anti-Americanism within the German Right, 1917-1933," Amerikastudien/American Studies (1976) 21#1 pp 89–108.
  • Schwabe, Klaus. Woodrow Wilson, Revolutionary Germany, and Peacemaking, 1918–1919 (U. of North Carolina Press, 1985.)
  • Sides, Ashley. What Americans Said about Saxony, and what this Says about Them: Interpreting Travel Writings of the Ticknors and Other Privileged Americans, 1800--1850 (MA Thesis, University of Texas at Arlington, 2008). online
  • Small, Melvin. "The United States and the German “Threat” to the Hemisphere, 1905–1914." The Americas 28#3 (1972): 252-270. Says there was no threat because Germany accepted the Monroe Doctrine.
  • Trommler, Frank. "The Lusitania Effect: America's Mobilization against Germany in World War I." German Studies Review (2009): 241-266.
  • Vagts, Alfred. Deutschland und die Vereinigten Staaten in der Weltpolitik (2 vols. (New York: Dornan, 1935), a major study that was never translated.
    • Vagts, Alfred. "Hopes and Fears of an American-German War, 1870–1915 I." Political Science Quarterly 54#4 (1939): 514-535. in JSTOR
    • Vagts, Alfred. "Hopes and Fears of an American-German War, 1870–1915 II." Political Science Quarterly 55#1 (1940): 53-76. in JSTOR
  • Zacharasiewicz, Waldemar. Images of Germany in American literature (2007).


  • Bell, Leland V. "The Failure of Nazism in America: The German American Bund, 1936-1941." Political Science Quarterly 85#4 (1970): 585-599. in JSTOR
  • Dallek Robert. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy (Oxford University Press, 1979)
  • Fischer, Klaus P. Hitler & America (2011) online
  • Frye, Alton. Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, 1933–1941 (1967).
  • Haag, John. "Gone With the Wind in Nazi Germany." Georgia Historical Quarterly 73#2 (1989): 278-304. in JSTOR
  • Heilbut, Anthony. Exiled in Paradise: German Refugee Artists and Intellectuals in America from the 1930s to the Present (1983).
  • Margolick, David. Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and a World on the Brink. (2005), world heavyweight boxing championship.
  • Nagorski, Andrew. Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power (2012).
  • Norden, Margaret K. "American Editorial Response to the Rise of Adolf Hitler: A Preliminary Consideration." American Jewish Historical Quarterly 59#3 (1970): 290-301. in JSTOR
  • Offner, Arnold A. American Appeasement: United States Foreign Policy and Germany, 1933–1938 (Harvard University Press, 1969) online edition
  • Pederson, William D. ed. A Companion to Franklin D. Roosevelt (2011) online pp 636–52, FDR's policies
  • Rosenbaum, Robert A. Waking to Danger: Americans and Nazi Germany, 1933–1941 (2010) online
  • Schuler, Friedrich E. Mexico between Hitler and Roosevelt: Mexican foreign relations in the age of Lázaro Cárdenas, 1934–1940 (1999).
  • Weinberg, Gerhard L. The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany (2 vols. (1980)
  • Weinberg, Gerhard L. "Hitler's image of the United States." American Historical Review 69#4 (1964): 1006–1021. in JSTOR

After 1941

  • Backer, John H. The Decision to Divide Germany: American Foreign Policy in Transition (1978)
  • Bark, Dennis L. and David R. Gress. A History of West Germany Vol 1: From Shadow to Substance, 1945–1963 (1989); A History of West Germany Vol 2: Democracy and Its Discontents 1963–1988 (1989), the standard scholarly history in English
  • Casey, Stephen, Cautious Crusade: Franklin D. Roosevelt, American Public Opinion, and the War against Nazi Germany (2004) online
  • Junker, Detlef, et al. eds. The United States and Germany in the Era of the Cold War, 1945–1968: A Handbook, Vol. 1: 1945–1968; (2004) excerpt and text search; Vol. 2: 1968–1990 (2004) excerpt and text search, comprehensive coverage
  • Gimbel John F. American Occupation of Germany (Stanford UP, 1968)
  • Hanrieder Wolfram. West German Foreign Policy, 1949–1979 (Westview, 1980)
  • Höhn, Maria H. GIs and Frèauleins: The German-American Encounter in 1950s West Germany (U of North Carolina Press, 2002)
  • Immerfall, Stefan. Safeguarding German-American Relations in the New Century: Understanding and Accepting Mutual Differences (2006)
  • Kuklick, Bruce. American Policy and the Division of Germany: The Clash with Russia over Reparations (Cornell University Press, 1972)
  • Ninkovich, Frank. Germany and the United States: The Transformation of the German Question since 1945 (1988)
  • Nolan, Mary. "Anti-Americanism and Americanization in Germany." Politics & Society (2005) 33#1 pp 88–122.
  • Pettersson, Lucas. "Changing images of the USA in German media discourse during four American presidencies." International Journal of Cultural Studies (2011) 14#1 pp 35–51.
  • Pommerin, Reiner. The American Impact on Postwar Germany (Berghahn Books, 1995) online edition
  • Smith Jean E. Lucius D. Clay (1990)
  • Stephan, Alexander, ed. Americanization and anti-Americanism: the German encounter with American culture after 1945 (Berghahn Books, 2013)


  • Depkat, Volker. "Introduction: American History/ies in Germany: Assessments, Transformations, Perspectives." Amerikastudien/American Studies (2009): 337-343. in JSTOR
  • Doerries, Reinhard R. "The Unknown Republic: American History at German Universities." Amerikastudien/American Studies (2005): 99-125. in JSTOR
  • Gassert, Philipp. "Writing about the (American) past, thinking of the (German) present: The history of US foreign relations in Germany." Amerikastudien/American Studies (2009): 345-382. in JSTOR
  • Gassert, Philipp. "The Study of U.S. History in Germany." European Contributions to American Studies (2007), Vol. 66, pp 117–132.

External links