Anti-German sentiment

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"Germanophobia" redirects here. For germophobia/germaphobia (a fear of germs), see Mysophobia.
Destroy this mad bruteUS propaganda
Anti-German cartoon from Australia, Norman Lindsay, between 1914 and 1918
French postcard from the First World War era showing a caricature of Kaiser Wilhelm II attempting to devour the world; this French version was based on an Italian cartoon
Anti-German poster from the interwar years in Britain, calling for boycott of German goods and depicting German businesspeople selling their products in Britain as "the other face" of German soldiers who committed atrocities during the 1914–1918 (British Empire Union poster).

Anti-German sentiment (or Germanophobia) is defined as an opposition to or fear of Germany, its inhabitants, its culture and the German language.[1] Its opposite is Germanophilia.

The phenomenon had existed, in one way or another, for as long as Germans existed and had contacts with other people. For example, the Chronicon Lethrense, a Danish history written in the 12th century, is characterized by the writer's deep hatred of all things German. However, as a political phenomenon, anti-German sentiment became significant especially from the mid-19th Century, parallel with the Unification of Germany and its rise as a world power.[citation needed]

19th century[edit]

Russia[edit]

In the 1860s Russia experienced an outbreak of Germanophobia, mainly restricted to a small group of writers in St. Petersburg who had united around a right wing newspaper. It began in 1864 with the publication of an article by a writer (using the pseudonym "Shedoferotti") who proposed that Poland be given autonomy and that the privileges of the German barons in the Baltic republics and Finland be preserved. Mikhail Katkov published a harsh criticism of the article in the Moscow News, which in turn caused a flood of angry articles in which Russian writers expressed their irritation with Europeans, some of which featured direct attacks on Germans.

The following year, 1865, the 100th anniversary of the death of Mikhail Lomonosov was marked throughout the Russian empire. Articles were published mentioning the difficulties Lomonosov had encountered from the foreign members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, most of whom had been of German descent. The authors then criticized contemporary German scholars for their neglect of the Russian language and for printing articles in foreign languages while receiving funds from the Russian people. It was further suggested by some writers that Russian citizens of German origin who did not speak Russian and follow the Orthodox faith should be considered foreigners. It was also proposed that people of German descent be forbidden from holding diplomatic posts as they might not have "solidarity with respect to Russia".

Despite the press campaign against Germans, Germanophobic feelings did not develop in Russia to any widespread extent, and died out, due to the Imperial family's German roots and the presence of many German names in the Russian political elite.[2]

Great Britain[edit]

Although negative comments about Germany had begun to appear in Britain in the 1880s, following the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–71 criticisms were expressed in the press and in the birth of the invasion novel (e. g. The Battle of Dorking), many of which focused on the idea that Britain might be Germany's next victim.

In 1887, the label Made in Germany was introduced, to get British buyers to adhere to the concept of 'buying British'. After suffering slight losses, German manufacturers soon found the label to be of good use.

In the 1890s there was widespread hostility towards foreigners in Britain, mainly directed against eastern European Jews but also including Germans. Joseph Bannister believed that German residents in Britain were mostly "gambling-house keepers, hotel-porters, barbers, 'bullies', runaway conscripts, bath-attendants, street musicians, criminals, bakers, socialists, cheap clerks, etc". Interviewees for the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration believed that Germans were not of the white race and involved in prostitution and burglary. Many people viewed Germans working in Britain as non whites and as threatening the livelihood of Britons by being willing to work for longer hours.

Anti-German hostility deepened since early 1896 after the Kruger telegram of Kaiser Wilhelm II, in which he congratulated President Kruger of the Transvaal on resisting the British Jameson Raid. Attacks on Germans in London were reported in the German press at the time but do not appear to have actually occurred. The Saturday Review (London) suggested "be ready to fight Germany, as Germania delenda est" ("Germany is to be destroyed", a reference to the coda against the Carthaginians adopted by Cato's speeches in the second Roman Republic).

In 1900 during the Second Boer War (Second Farmer War), a German barber in Tottenham was accused of pro-Boer sympathies and attacked, and in 1901, there were attacks on Germans travelling by train in east London.[3]

Early 20th century[edit]

Following the signing of the Entente Cordiale in 1904 between Britain and France, attitudes towards Germany and German residents in Britain became very negative. A fear of German militarism replaced a previous admiration for German culture and literature. At the same time, journalists produced a stream of articles on the threat posed by Germany.[3]

In 1894 Alfred Harmsworth had commissioned author William Le Queux to write the serial novel The Great War in England in 1897, which featured Germany, France and Russia combining forces to crush Britain. Twelve years later Harmsworth asked him to repeat this, promising the full support of his formidable advertising capabilities. The result was the bestselling The Invasion of 1910, which originally appeared in serial form in the Daily Mail in 1906 and has been referred to by historians as inducing an atmosphere of paranoia, mass hysteria and Germanophobia that would climax in the Naval Scare of 1908–09.[4] Articles of the Daily Mail regularly advocated anti-German sentiments throughout the 20th century, telling British readers to refuse service at restaurants by Austrian or German waiters on the claim that they were spies and told them that if a German-sounding waiter claimed to be Swiss that they should demand to see the waiter's passport.[5]

At the same time conspiracy theories were concocted combining Germanophobia with antisemitism, concerning the supposed foreign control of Britain, some of which blamed Britain's entry into the Boer War on international financiers "chiefly German in origin and Jewish in race".[6] Most of these ideas about German-Jewish conspiracies originated from right-wing figures such as Arnold White, Hilaire Belloc, and Leo Maxse, the latter using his publication the National Review to spread them.[citation needed]

First World War[edit]

German shelling of Reims Cathedral early in the First World War

In 1914 when the German army invaded neutral Belgium and northern France many thousands of Belgian and French civilians were accused of being francs-tireurs and executed.[7] These acts were used to encourage anti-German feelings and the Allied Powers produced propaganda depicting Germans as Huns capable of infinite cruelty and violence.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, anti-German feeling led to infrequent rioting, assaults on suspected Germans and the looting of stores owned by people with German-sounding names, occasionally even taking on an antisemitic tone.[8] Increasing anti-German hysteria even threw suspicion upon the British monarchy and King George V was persuaded to change his German name of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor and relinquish all German titles and styles on behalf of his relatives who were British subjects.[9]

In the UK, the German Shepherd breed of dog was renamed to the euphemistic "Alsatian"; the English Kennel Club only re-authorised the use of 'German Shepherd' as an official name in 1977.

Attitudes to Germany were not entirely negative among British troops fighting on the Western Front; the British writer Nicholas Shakespeare quotes this statement from a letter written by his grandfather during the First World War in which he says he would rather fight the French and describes German bravery:

Personally, my opinion is that our fellows get on much best [sic] with the Germans, and would very much rather be fighting the French! ... It was a fine sight to see the Germans coming on in solid formation, in front of our machine guns....they were generally led by one officer in front who came along to certain death as cool as a cucumber, with his sword held straight up in front of him at the salute.

— Nicholas Shakespeare, The first casualty of war.[10]

Robert Graves who like the King also had German relatives, wrote shortly after the war during his time at Oxford University as an undergraduate that:

The eighteenth century owed its unpopularity largely to its Frenchness. Anti-French feeling among most ex-soldiers amounted almost to an obsession. Edmund, shaking with nerves, used to say at this time: "No more wars for me at any price! Except against the French. If ever there is a war against them, I'll go like a shot." Pro-German feeling had been increasing. With the war over and the German armies beaten, we could give the German soldier credit for being the most efficient fighting man in Europe... Some undergraduates even insisted that we had been fighting on the wrong side: our natural enemies were the French.

—Robert Graves Goodbye to All That.[11]

Canada[edit]

In Canada, the Ontario city of Berlin changed its name to Kitchener, after Lord Kitchener, famously pictured on the "Lord Kitchener Wants You" recruiting posters. Several streets in Toronto that had previously been named for Liszt, Humboldt, Schiller, Bismarck, etc., were changed to names with strong British associations, such as Balmoral. There were anti German riots in Victoria and Calgary in the first years of the war.

Australia[edit]

A 1915 Australian badge reflecting the Anti-German sentiment at the time.

In Australia, an official proclamation of August 10, 1914 required all German citizens to register their domiciles at the nearest police station and to notify authorities of any change of address. Under the later Aliens Restriction Order of May 27, 1915, enemy aliens who had not been interned had to report to the police once a week and could only change address with official permission. An amendment to the Restriction Order in July 1915 prohibited enemy aliens and naturalized subjects from changing their name or the name of any business they ran. Under the War Precautions Act of 1914 (which survived the First World War), publication of German language material was prohibited and schools attached to Lutheran churches were forced to abandon German as the language of teaching or were closed by the authorities. German clubs and associations were also closed.[12]

The original German names of settlements and streets were officially changed. In South Australia, Grunthal became Verdun and Krichauff became Beatty. In New South Wales Germantown became Holbrook after the submarine commander Norman Douglas Holbrook.[12] This pressure was strongest in South Australia where 69 towns changed their names, including Pertersburg, South Australia, which became Peterborough (see Australian place names changed from German names).

Most of the anti-German feeling was created by the press that tried to create the idea that all those of German birth or descent supported Germany uncritically. A booklet circulated widely in 1915 claimed that "there were over 3,000 German spies scattered throughout the states". Anti-German propaganda was also inspired by local and British companies who were keen to take the opportunity to eliminate Germany as a competitor in the Australian market. Germans in Australia were increasingly portrayed as evil by the very nature of their origins.[12]

United States[edit]

1918 bond posters with germanophobic slogans

During World War I, German Americans were sometimes accused of being too sympathetic to Germany. Former president Theodore Roosevelt denounced "hyphenated Americanism", insisting that dual loyalties were impossible in wartime. A small minority came out for Germany, or ridiculed the British (as did H. L. Mencken). Similarly, Harvard psychology professor Hugo Münsterberg dropped his efforts to mediate between America and Germany, and threw his efforts behind the German cause.[13]

The Justice Department attempted to prepare a list of all German aliens, counting approximately 480,000 of them, more than 4,000 of whom were imprisoned in 1917-18. The allegations included spying for Germany, or endorsing the German war effort.[14] Thousands were forced to buy war bonds to show their loyalty.[15] The Red Cross barred individuals with German last names from joining in fear of sabotage. One person was killed by a mob; in Collinsville, Illinois, German-born Robert Prager was dragged from jail as a suspected spy and lynched.[16]

An old black and white comic strip. Two characters are talking about a clown that was bought for a birthday present. One character smashes the doll because it was made in Germany.
A 1917 comic strip in which the character smashes a clown doll present because it was made in Germany.

Anti-German sentiment was stoked by the success of German saboteurs in the 1916 bombing of Black Tom island; the operation had been directed and financed by German intelligence officers under diplomatic cover.[17]

When the United States entered the war in 1917, some German Americans were looked upon with suspicion and attacked regarding their loyalty. Some aliens were convicted and imprisoned on charges of sedition, for refusing to swear allegiance to the United States war effort.[18]

In Chicago, Frederick Stock was forced to step down as conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra until he finalized his naturalization papers. Orchestras replaced music by German composer Wagner with French composer Berlioz.

The town, Berlin, Michigan, was changed to Marne, Michigan (honoring those who fought in the Battle of Marne).

German street names in many cities were changed. German and Berlin streets in Cincinnati became English and Woodward.[19] In Chicago Lubeck, Frankfort, and Hamburg streets were renamed Dickens, Charleston, and Shakespeare.[20][21] In New Orleans, Berlin Street was renamed for General Pershing, head of the American Expeditionary Force.[22]

Businesses changed their names. In Chicago, German Hospital became Grant Hospital.[20] In New York, the giant Germania Life Insurance Company became Guardian.[23]

Many schools stopped teaching German language classes.[19] The City College of New York continued teaching German courses, but reduced the number of credits students could receive for them.[24] Books published in German were removed from libraries or even burned.[19][25] In Cincinnati, the public library was asked to withdraw all German books from its shelves.[26] In Iowa, in the 1918 Babel Proclamation, the governor prohibited all foreign languages in schools and public places. Nebraska banned instruction in any language except English, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ban illegal in 1923 (Meyer v. Nebraska).[27]

Vocabulary changed. Sauerkraut came to be called "liberty cabbage",[22] German measles became "liberty measles", hamburgers became "liberty sandwiches"[22] and dachshunds became "liberty pups".[28]

The response of German Americans to these tactics was often to Americanize names (e.g. Schmidt to Smith, Müller to Miller) and to limit the use of the German language in public places, especially churches.[29]

Second World War[edit]

See also: Anti-fascism

Great Britain[edit]

In 1940 the Ministry of Information launched an "Anger Campaign" to instill "personal anger... against the German people and Germany", because the British were "harbouring little sense of real personal animus against the average German". This was done to strengthen British resolve against the Germans. It was particularly important in a national war effort against a regime that had spent the last 10 years building up hatred for other nationalities.[30] Sir Robert Vansittart, the Foreign Office's chief diplomatic advisor until 1941, gave a series of radio broadcasts in which he said that Germany was a nation raised on "envy, self-pity and cruelty" whose historical development had "prepared the ground for Nazism" and that it was Nazism that had "finally given expression to the blackness of the German soul".[31]

The British Institute of Public Opinion (BIPO) tracked the evolution of anti-German/anti-Nazi feeling in Britain, asking the public, via a series of opinion polls conducted from 1939 to 1943, whether "the chief enemy of Britain was the German people or the Nazi government". In 1939 only 6% of respondents held the German people responsible; however, following the Blitz and the "Anger Campaign" in 1940, this increased to 50%. This subsequently declined to 41% by 1943. It also was reported by Home Intelligence in 1942 that there was some criticism of the official attitude of hatred towards Germany on the grounds that "England ought to be a civilising influence" and that such hatred might hinder the possibility of a reasonable settlement following the war.[32]

This attitude was expanded upon by author J.R.R. Tolkien. In 1944, he wrote in a letter to his son Christopher:

... it is distressing to see the press grovelling in the gutter as low as Goebbels in his prime, shrieking that any German commander who holds out in a desperate situation (when, too, the military needs of his side clearly benefit) is a drunkard, and a besotted fanatic. ... There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: because, if you please, they are rattlesnakes, and don't know the difference between good and evil! (What of the writer?) The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman, as we have to select the Germans: in other words, no right, whatever they have done.[33]

In the same year Mass Observation asked its observers to analyse British private opinion of the German people and found that 54% of opinion was "pro-German", in that it expressed sympathy and "not their fault". This tolerance of the German people as opposed to the Nazi regime increased as the war progressed. Mass Observation established in 1943 that up to 60% of people maintained a distinction between Germans and Nazis, with only 20% or so expressing any "hatred, vindictiveness, or need for retribution". British film propaganda of the period similarly maintained the division between Nazi supporters and the German people.[32]

United States[edit]

Between 1931 and 1940, 114,000 Germans and thousands of Austrians moved to the United States, many of whom — including, e.g., Nobel prize winner Albert Einstein, Lion Feuchtwanger, Bertold Brecht, Arnold Schönberg, Hanns Eisler and Thomas Mann — were Jewish Germans or anti-Nazis fleeing Nazi oppression.[34] About 25,000 people became paying members of the pro-Nazi German American Bund during the years before the war.[35] German aliens were the subject of suspicion and discrimination during the war, although prejudice and sheer numbers meant they suffered as a group generally less than Japanese Americans. The Alien Registration Act of 1940 required 300,000 German-born resident aliens who had German citizenship to register with the Federal government and restricted their travel and property ownership rights.[36][37] Under the still active Alien Enemy Act of 1798, the United States government interned nearly 11,000 German citizens between 1940 and 1948. Civil rights violations occurred.[38] An unknown number of "voluntary internees" joined their spouses and parents in the camps and were not permitted to leave.[39][40][41]

President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought out Americans of German ancestry for top war jobs, including General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and General Carl Andrew Spaatz. He appointed Republican Wendell Willkie as a personal representative. German Americans who had fluent German language skills were an important asset to wartime intelligence, and they served as translators and as spies for the United States.[42] The war evoked strong pro-American patriotic sentiments among German Americans, few of whom by then had contacts with distant relatives in the old country.[43][44][45]

The October 1939 seizure by the German pocket battleship Deutschland of the US freighter SS City of Flint, as it had 4000 tons of oil for Britain on board, provoked much anti-German sentiment in the US.[46]

Following its entry into the Second World War, the US Government interned at least 11,000 American citizens of German ancestry. The last to be released, a German-American, remained imprisoned until 1948 at Ellis Island,[47] three and a half years after the cessation of hostilities against Germany.

In 1944, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., United States Secretary of the Treasury, put forward the strongest proposal for punishing Germany to the Second Quebec Conference. It became known as the Morgenthau Plan, and was intended to prevent Germany from having the industrial base to start another world war. However this plan was shelved quickly, the Western Allies did not seek reparations for war damage, and the United States implemented the Marshall Plan that was intended to and did help West Germany's post war recovery to its former position as a pre-eminent industrial nation.

Brazil[edit]

After Brazil's entry into the war on the Allied side in 1942, anti-German riots broke out in nearly every city in Brazil in which Germans were not the majority population. German factories, including the Suerdick cigar factory in Bahia, shops, and hotels were destroyed by mobs. The largest demonstrations took place in Porto Alegre in Rio Grande do Sul. Brazilian police persecuted and interned "subjects of the Axis powers" in internment camps similar to those used by the US to intern Japanese-Americans. Following the war, German schools were not reopened, the German-language press disappeared completely, and use of the German language became restricted to the home and the older generation of immigrants.[48]

Post-Second World War[edit]

Results of 2014 BBC World Service poll.
Views of Germany's influence by country[49]
Sorted by Pos-Neg
Country polled Positive Negative Neutral Pos-Neg
 Israel 25 38 37 -13
 Spain 44 40 16 4
 India 32 26 42 6
 Pakistan 35 27 38 8
 China 42 22 36 20
 Mexico 45 24 31 21
 Peru 44 22 34 22
 Turkey 47 24 29 23
 Indonesia 53 28 19 25
 Chile 47 18 35 29
 Nigeria 63 23 14 40
 Japan 46 3 51 43
 Kenya 58 15 27 43
 Russia 57 12 31 45
 Brazil 66 21 13 45
 Germany 68 19 13 49
 Ghana 72 13 15 59
 United States 73 13 14 60
 Canada 77 10 13 67
 France 83 11 6 72
 United Kingdom 86 9 5 77
 South Korea 84 6 10 78
 Australia 86 7 7 79

Following the Second World War some historians such as Sir Lewis Namier and A.J.P. Taylor were considered as anti-German.[citation needed] Even the speed of West German recovery following the war was seen as ominous by some who suspected the Germans of planning for World War III.[50]

American General George S. Patton complained that the U.S. policy of denazification following Germany's surrender harmed American interests and was motivated simply by hatred of the defeated German people.[citation needed]

Much present-day anti-German sentiment has been particularly strong in East European countries occupied by Germany during the war, and those that were at war with Germany and its allies.[51][52]

Although views fluctuate somewhat in response to geopolitical issues (such as the invasion of Iraq), Americans regard modern Germany as an ally[53] and few hold anti-German sentiments. Occasionally, German people are stereotyped as Nazis (goose-stepping, shouting "Sieg Heil!", sporting a "Hitler moustache"), being "ruthlessly efficient" and having no sense of humour in some parts of American media, as well as in the UK and other countries. Richard Wagner's music was not performed in Israel until 1995 (radio) and 2001 (concert) and was for many years unpopular in Poland. This can be explained, at least partially, due to Richard Wagner's anti-semitism and the Nazi appropriation of Wagner's music based on Hitler's personal affection for his operas.

In Israel[edit]

Up to the rise of Hitler in 1933, many European Jews tended to be pro-German. German Jews were deeply integrated in the country's culture, and many of them fought with distinction in the First World War German Army. Jews in Czech lands tended to adopt the German language and culture in preference to Slavic languages (Kafka being a conspicuous example), and a similar phenomenon was evident in other parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Throughout Eastern Europe, Jews spoke Yiddish, a language closely related to German, and Jewish intellectuals often took up German as "The Language of Culture". Theodore Herzl, the founding father of Zionism, himself spoke and wrote German and in his utopian book Altneuland actually depicted the future Jewish state as German-speaking.

Such attitudes suffered an extremely painful rupture and complete reversal with the persecutions and atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, culminating with the systematic genocide of the Holocaust. In the first decades of Israel's existence, anti-German feelings were strong and dominant in Israeli society. There was a widespread cultural and commercial boycott of all things German (and often, Austrian as well) and a determination "never to set foot on German soil."[citation needed] German Jews in Israel, themselves refugees from the Nazi persecutions, came under strong social pressure to cease using German, their mother language.

At the time, the words "German" and "Nazi" were used interchangeably.[citation needed] (Until the late 1990s, the sign language of Israeli deaf communities used the Swastika as the sign for "German".[citation needed]) There was a widespread scepticism about the possibility of "another Germany" ever emerging; specifically, there was suspicion about Konrad Adenauer's claim to be involved in the creation of a new, democratic Germany. Many Israelis took up the Soviet claims made in the early years of the Cold War that West Germany was "a fascist state" in which ex-Nazis held key positions.

The Reparations Agreement with Germany, signed by the David Ben-Gurion government in 1952, was the focus of intense political controversy, and the protest demonstrations led by then opposition leader Menachem Begin turned into pitched battles with the police. In the early 1960s, the Eichmann Trial brought the horrors and traumas of the Holocaust to the center of public consciousness. The establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and West Germany in 1966 entailed a new wave of protests and demonstrations, though less violent than those of 1952.

However, since the late 1960s, there has been a clear, though gradual, process of rapprochement between Israelis and Germans in all spheres: diplomatic, commercial and cultural. The 1967 Six Day War realigned Israeli politics, with the issue of occupied territories henceforth defining what is "right wing" and "left wing," with, among other things, the result that militant Israeli nationalism tended to be anti-Arab rather than anti-German.[citation needed] When Begin became Israel's Prime Minister in 1977, he had little option but to take up the maintenance of already very extensive ties with Germany, to whose creation he had been fiercely opposed as an opposition leader.

A momentary flare-up of anti-German feeling occurred during the 1991 Gulf War, when Israel was the subject of missile attack by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Some Israeli columnists and politicians combined the revelations of German corporations helping the Iraqi arms industry and the strong anti-war movement in Germany and tied both with the German Nazi past.

The German government of the time managed, however, to assuage Israeli feelings by providing the Israeli Navy with several advanced submarines, which, according to repeated reports in the international press, were used to mount nuclear missiles and provide Israel with a second strike capacity.[citation needed] These Dolphin class submarines replaced the obsolete 1970s Gal-class submarines, and are some of the most modern submarines in the world. Two submarines were given by Germany, and the third paid half for by Germany, half by Israel.

At present, anti-German feelings in Israel are at low ebb.[citation needed] The ongoing debate about whether the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra should play the works of Richard Wagner is mostly considered as a remnant of the past. In 2008, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first foreign head of government invited to deliver a speech in the Israeli parliament, which she gave in the German language. Several Israeli members of parliament left in protest during the speech, claiming the need to create a collective memory that "will create a kind of electric wave when Jews will hear the sounds of the German language, they'll remember the Holocaust.".[54]

Kibbutz Lohamei HaGeta'ot–which, as its Hebrew name "Fighters of the Ghettos" implies, included among its founders survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising–decided to reverse a long-standing ban and let a delegation from its museum accept an invitation to visit Germany. This was explained with saying that "When German babies born on the day of Hitler's death are now sixty-three years old, it is ridiculous to continue to demand a collective responsibility".

In a recent article, researcher Hanan Bar (חנן בר) summed up the ambiguous Israeli attitude to Germany: "If the average Israeli happens to see a football match between Germany and Holland [sic], he would automatically root for the Dutch. But the same person, when buying a washing machine, would prefer a German model, considering it to be the best" [55]

Contemporary Europe[edit]

British public people, whether journalists or politicians, are more prepared to demonise the Germans than any other people I know are prepared to vilify any other nation I have heard of, with the possible exception of Arabs and Jews."

 Hugo Young, The Guardian[56]

After the separation into two countries following the Second World War; West Germany generally had good relationships with its western neighboring states, while East Germany to some degree had similar relationships with its eastern neighbors. Many of these relationships continued after the end of the Cold War with the unified Germany. West Germany was a co-founder of the European Union and the reunified Germany continues as a leading member. During the process of European unification, Germany and France forged a strong relationship, ending the long-standing French–German enmity, which had peaked during and after the First World War.

In a poll carried out in 2008 for the BBC World Service, in which people in 34 countries were asked about the positive and negative influence of 13 countries[57] including Germany, Germany was the most popular, ahead of Japan, France and Britain; only 18 percent thought Germany had a mainly negative influence.[58] The most negative attitudes were in Turkey (47 percent) and Egypt (43 percent).[58]

Germans sometimes complain of stereotypical associations of them with acts and a regime of more than sixty years ago, such as the use of anti-German sentiment in headlines by parts of the British press, which were often used in the build-up to football matches between England and Germany. A more recent example arose when German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI.

In fact, according to a recent poll, the British people have a rather positive image of Germany, with 62 percent believing that Germany has a mainly positive influence in the world and only 20 percent believing that Germany's influence is mainly negative, slightly better than Germans' views of Britain (60 percent and 27 percent, respectively).[58]

Poland[edit]

Many Poles perceive Germans as their long-time oppressors, dating back to the times of Teutonic Order.[citation needed] This notion is based on a long history of conflict with ethnic Poles, first by the German-language and culture Prussians then by the united German state, starting with three partitions of Poland, germanization in the 19th and 20th centuries, and culminating in the Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939 and the genocide of six million Polish citizens that ensued during the German occupation 1939–1945. These mass murders focused both on the Jewish minority and ethnic Poles.

Several issues have also strained recent Polish-German relations, although Poland and post-reunification Germany overall have had mostly positive relations. The Poles are suspicious of the campaign led by Erika Steinbach, a daughter of a German officer in the German forces occupying Poland, made famous for her voting against Oder–Neisse line borders,[59] who seeks reparations for the property lost by Germans expelled by Poland following the Second World War and to create the Centre Against Expulsions. In addition, the proposed Russo-German pipeline through the Baltic Sea, is seen by Poles as aimed at cutting off Poland's natural gas supplies from Russia without damaging supply to Germany, and was even compared to the ignominious Molotov-Ribbentrop pact by Radosław Sikorski, Polish foreign minister.[60]

Netherlands[edit]

For centuries,[61][62] and most recently since the Second World War, a feeling of animosity exists towards Germans among some Dutch. The humiliation, death, devastation and deliberate mass starvation imposed during the war left deep scars.[63][64]

A degree of tension goes back centuries. From the 15th century until the large-scale industrialization of Germany; the Netherlands attracted a lot of seasonal migrants from Western Germany willing to work on Dutch farms for low wages. There are known joke books in which Germans are featured prominently and stereotypically as dumb, arrogant and filthy.[65]

During the First World War (in which the Netherlands remained neutral) the so-called Wire of Death, a lethal 2000 volts electric fence built by the German authorities in occupied Belgium along the Belgian-Dutch border caused an sharp increase in anti-German sentiment among the Dutch (who had up until then been mostly Anti-English due to the recent Second Boer War) because of large numbers of fatalities.[66]

With the advent of the Second World War, and the brutal occupation of the Netherlands it brought with it, this image intensified dramatically.

The Dutch possess a deep aversion to all things German, especially the people. Such hostilities, undoubtedly, are attributable to the German invasion and subsequent occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War. The evils that World War II brought to the Dutch homeland are not forgotten to this day, and the perpetrators are not forgiven.[67]

— M. Resch, Only in Holland, Only the Dutch.

Anti-German sentiments in the Netherlands are sometimes expressed through dark humour. An example is the painting of the words 'Zimmer Frei' (room vacant) on old bunkers along the highways coming into the country from Germany, a reference both to the war and the Netherlands' popularity among German tourists.

Dutch authorities are cognizant of such anti-German sentiment and have been trying to moderate such feelings over the past few years, and according to recent studies the attitude towards German people has become less antagonistic.[68] In recent years Dutch views on Germans have become more positive.[69]

Switzerland[edit]

Rapid increase of German immigration to Switzerland during the 2000s (decade) has given rise to "germanophobia" in German-speaking Switzerland.[70]

Greece and Italy[edit]

The recent Greek government-debt crisis and EU-driven austerity measures imposed on the country have revived anti-German sentiments.[71] The Greek media have been making comments critical of the German policy, often mentioning, and drawing parallels with the Axis occupation of Greece, with some commentators emphasizing a genetic heritage from "Goths" or "Huns".[72][73] A poll by VPRC noted the existence of an anti-German sentiment in Greece, and that the majority of the respondents nowadays connect Germany with negative notions such as "Hitler", "Nazism" and "3rd Reich"[74] The Popular Fighters Group formed in response to the debt crisis is overtly anti-German and has targeted German organizations in Greece.

In August 2012, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti warned that escalating arguments over how to resolve the Euro debt crisis are turning countries against each other and threatening to rip Europe apart. Resentment in Italy is growing against Germany, the European Union and chancellor Merkel, he said, adding that “the pressures already bear the traits of a psychological break-up of Europe”.[75]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ executive editor, Joseph P. Pickett (2000). American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-82517-2. 
  2. ^ Forest, Benjamin (2005). Religion and Identity in Modern Russia. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 45–47. ISBN 0-7546-4272-0. 
  3. ^ a b Panayi, Panikos (1996). Germans in Britain Since 1500. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 90–91. ISBN 1-85285-126-0. 
  4. ^ Usandizaga, Aránzazu; Monnickendam, Andrew (2001). Dressing Up For War. Rodopi. pp. 60–61. ISBN 90-420-1367-2. 
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References[edit]

  • Thomas Fleming, The Illusion Of Victory: America In World War I (NY: Basic Books, 2003)

External links[edit]