German Americans are U.S. Americansns of German origin. Around 8 million German immigrants have entered the U.S. over the centuries, seeking freedom or a better life, or for other reasons.
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2 German-Americans throughout the country
3 German-Americans and World War I
4 Amish, Mennonite and Hutterites
5 German-American Influence
6 American Influence on Germany
German immigrants made up a substantial population of colonial Pennsylvania where they often came into political conflict with the Quakers. The first German settlement was founded in 1683 although some individuals were already in America in other colonies. Eventually Germans constituted about one third of the population at the time of the Revolution.
German-Americans throughout the country
German-American became very widespread throughout America. In 1900 the cities of Cleveland, Milwaukee, Hoboken and Cincinnati all had population over 40% German-American. In the 1990 census, 58 million people or 23% of the population listed German heritage.
German-Americans and World War I
During World War I, German Americans experienced widespread suspicion and persecution. Some during this time "Americanized" their names and limited their use of German language. Laws were passed to ban the use of German
as a language of instruction for elementary school students even in private and parochial schools. Bilingual schools had been common in some communities. Some communities banned instruction in any language except English. The Supreme Court ruled the ban illegal in 1923.
Amish, Mennonite and Hutterites
Many communities of Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites still speak dialects of German. Because of their religious beliefs they form separate communities that are still continuing in some cases centuries after immigration to America.
Germans have contributed to a vast number of areas in American culture and technology. Baron von Steuben a former Prussian officer led the reformation of the U.S. Army during War of Independence and made thus victory against British troops possible. The Studebakers built large numbers of wagons used in the Western migration. Carl Schurz a refugee from the -- tragically unsuccessful -- first German democratic revolution of 1848 (see also German Confederation), served as U.S. secretary of the interior.
Due to the tragic developments in Germany leading from WWI to WWII, many researchers of German origin left Germany due to economic problems or as a result of racial and political persecution. Probably the most famous of them being Albert Einstein, known for his Theory of Relativity.
After WWII Wernher von Braun the leading engineer coming from the former German rocket base Peenemünde brought his knowledge to the U.S. contributing there to the development military rockets as well as of rockets for the NASA space program.
German cuisine influence is seen throughout the country. Hamburgers, bratwurst, sauerkraut, strudel are common dishes. Germans were important in the beer and wine industries. German bakers introduced the pretzel. See also Lager Beer Riot.
American Influence on Germany
With so much influence of Germans in the U.S., the question raises if, and if yes what has been the feedback from U.S. to Germany? Up to the end of WWII this Feedback has been comparably small. After WWII the victory of allied troops made establishment of a stable democracy at least in the western part of Germany possible. From that time onwards economic, cultural and political influence of the U.S. in Germany increased steadily reaching its climax probably with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990 and with German reunification in 1991.
Economically, one important American influence was the post-WWII Marshall Plan, which helped to build up the strong German economy in the 1950s and 1960s. As important economies in a globalized world, today exchange of goods and services between the USA and Germany as well as transnational corporations with roots in both countries are very important. And example for the last is Daimler-Chrysler, the fusion of German based Daimler-Benz AG and the U.S. Chrysler corporation.
With regard to German cuisine, it is remarkable that Hamburgers after having circumvented our planet once came back to their roots and just with a new ma(c)keup had a glorious comeback in Germany after WWII.
Politically U.S. protection after WWII helped to establish the present political system in Germany with firmly guaranteed personal rights and democratic freedoms of the individual.
See also: History of Germany