⋆ THE AMERICAN INFLUENCE ON GERMAN CULTURE ⋆


The American culture had a significant impact on shaping post word war Germany. Today, a view across the Atlantic provides a piece of pretty good information on future trends for Germany. In general, The American influence on Germany can be divided up into at least three parts, namely the era before World War 2, the time after World War 2 in which the American occupational zone Germany was forcefully reconstructed, characterized by a nonfraternization policy, and by the time in which Americans were seen as close and appreciated friends of West Germany. It is important to note that the topic of American influences on German culture is too complex to be covered in one article. There were no foundings of permanent American towns as in the case with Germans who settled in Pennsylvania or the Midwest, which became known as the "German Triangle."  Neither is or were there a significant number of expatriates who influenced German culture by immigration. American culture influenced Germany mainly because of the film and music industry and American brands in the fast food and sports sector. The American influence on German society is also a complex topic because only West Germany came under American influence. The American military presence can be seen as "one of the largest cultural-exchange programs in world history." Therefore, the image of America differs between East and West. Today, no other country on earth seems more familiar to Germans than the United States. Many other cultural factors contributed to German society and even shaped the image of Modern Germany. When World War 2 ended in 1945, U.S. forces occupied much of southern Germany, the Bremen enclave in northern Germany, and one sector of Berlin. Due to the United States' former role as an occupation force, Americans reshaped the information media such as the radio and newspapers, the latter one with overt publications. One over publication was "Die Neue Zeitung," a widely accepted paper throughout West Germany from 1945 to 1955. Only a few Germans knew back then that it was a U.S. Military Government paper, but it was highly appreciated and copied because of its high standard journalism. It served as a role model for the licensed press, such as the first German newspaper, the Frankfurter Rundschau, with its first edition on July 31, 1945. There was an exchange between journalists in the first years, and many German journalists traveled to the United States to experience more training on editing. Many Germans favor the United States, and just a few have anti-American attitudes, which roots back to the 19th century. Some German intellectuals had seen the United States as a nation inherited by cultureless and superficial people. Fortunately, only a minority sees it like that.

✰ The influence through american music ✰

The American influence through music can be traced back to the Weimar Republic. Jazz was a constant presence during the years from 1919 to 1933. After World War 1, Europeans and Germans paid increasingly public attention to the United States, which was globally recognized as a new world power. New technologies such as the phonograph increased German contact with American music as a component of its culture. Especially the young generation of Germans had a demand for Jazz. Germans had already come in contact with Jazz through American soldiers who were stationed west of the Rhine. However, not every German was an immediate fan of the new music genre. First, the measures for new foreign music genres had been relatively high due to Germany's culture and heritage regarding music. Therefore, Jazz was described by some contemporaries as too mechanical and too primitive. Second, Jazz was regarded as an inferior music genre derived from African Americans. The rejection of black music was also rooted in the occupation of the Ruhr. The French used African colonial soldiers who were seen as an imposition on German society. Still, the age of the Weimar Republic was simultaneously the German age of Jazz.

Music also had an impact on German society after World War 2. As George Smith pointed out already, the music on the Armed Forces Network program made a profound and positive impact on Germans that continues today, even though this military accomplishment was unintentional and was not supposed to reach the host nation. AFN introduced American country music and served as an ambassador for the U.S. in the post-war era. According to Smith, more than twice as many Germans were listening to AFN than Americans. Mike Haas from AFN Nuernberg became the founding program director of radio station Antenne Bayern in 1988. Also, the moderator Rik de Lisle from AFN Berlin, left his radio station to become a program director for the German radio.