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In 1945, Hitler's Third Reich, which had brought misery and suffering to millions of Europeans, was in shambles. German cities had been reduced to rubble, and her people were frightened, starving and desperate. Americans, together with their allies, occupied the defeated country. Wishing to prevent a recurrence of German aggressiveness, the Allies planned to punish the guilty and prevent Germany from ever becoming a military power again.

Who would have thought at the time of the Nuremberg Trials that only thirty years later the western part of Germany would be one of the closest political and military allies and one of the strongest partners of the U.S.? Who would have imagined in 1945 that just a few years later millions of Americans would be attracted to Germany as tourists? Who would have anticipated at the end of the German catastrophe that part of Germany soon would be deeply affected by American culture and life style? Surprising as these developments may seem, they were only the most recent chapter in 200 years of German-American contact and influence.


Originally published by the American Association of Teachers of German, Inc.