the united states and germany in the twentieth century
When historians attempt to describe and explain the significance of German-American relations in the second half of the twentieth century, they are forced to look at the entire century. This is because the relationship between the two states, societies, and cultures in the era of the Cold War was shaped by history in a twofold manner: by the objective consequences of American intervention in both world wars and, second, by the lessons learned from these historical experiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
When we look at the entire century from an American perspective, we might venture to say that no country in the world has contributed as much to the ascent of the United States to superpower status and to the globalization of its interests as Germany, Europe's central power. The United States had kept its distance from the Eurasian continent in the nineteenth century, particularly in terms of military engagement or alliance politics. It was the triple challenge posed by the German problem in World War I, World War II, and the Cold “World” War that finally established the United States as a military, economic, and cultural power on that continent.
Germany was America's chief adversary in World War I, and the United States waged two wars against it: a military one in Europe and a cultural one against German-Americans at home. The American political and military elite viewed Germany as its most pressing enemy in World War II, even after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After 1945, the American-Soviet conflict became the major structural principle of international relations, and the German question was to a large extent a dependent variable in the relationship between those two superpowers. Nonetheless, Germany remained America’s central problem in Europe.