Germany-US Relations: Brief History and Political Timeline (IA1007-EN)

In Brief

This timeline tracks major developments from the beginning of close Germany-USA ties after World War II to the present.

Keywords

Germany, US, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, NATO, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Obama, Trump


Cite

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America-Germany Relations: Timeline and Brief Historical Context

This timeline tracks major developments from the beginning of close Germany-USA ties after World War II to the present.

Not many bilateral relations in modern world history have had as many transformations as those shared by the United States and Germany. While the relations between the two were weak and ineffective in the 18th and 19th centuries, in the beginning of the 20th century, the relationship between the two has evolved into an environment of competition, hostility and conflict. At the end of the 20th century, relations between the USA and Germany progressed in the form of occupation, reconstruction, mutual support and normative friendship. The United States and Germany faced each other in the First World War, and soon afterwards the relationship between the two resulted in a conflict stemming from half-resolved issues. The outbreak of the Second World War revealed the incompleteness of the Versailles agreement. This led to the destruction of German society and the emergence of American supremacy in the Western world. The ambitious efforts of the United States to rebuild German society along American lines defined the relationship between the two in the postwar period. The turn towards nationalism in both countries in the early 21st century has revived old issues and fears.

1945-1953 Harry S. Truman

1948     After World War II, France, the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union invaded Germany. The Soviet Union controlled the German Democratic Republic, while the United States supported the Federal Republic of Germany in cooperation with Western allies. The United States supported the western part of Germany with the Marshall Plan, aimed at encouraging Germany to rebuild its German infrastructure and economy. America called on Germany to reintegrate economically and politically into the international community and play a role in maintaining stability in Europe.

1949     It was a difficult year for Berlin due to the Soviet Union’s attempt to isolate West Berlin from all forms of Western Access. The United States intervened by providing necessary supplies by air to the citizens of West Berlin. This became known as the 1949 Berlin Airlift, and “Berlin became a symbol of the United States ‘ determination to counter the Soviet threat without being forced into a direct conflict”. At the time of the German partition, the city of Berlin was a miniature setting of the entire Cold War situation. Berlin was the side where two opposing parties met: East and West.

1950     The United States sought to form a strong military alliance against the Soviet threat in Europe with the blockade of Berlin in 1948-49 in the 1950s and the start of the Korean War in June 1950. Against this background, the United States was implementing a “containment policy” against the Soviet Union. This has decimated relations between Germany and the United States.

1954     These developments in Europe and the European Defence Union, which France launched in 1950, and the decommissioning of Germany by France in 1954 further strengthened the relations between Bonn and Washington.

1953-1961 Dwight D. Eisenhower

1953     In April, Eisenhower called for a “peace chance speech, “a ceasefire in Korea, free elections to reunite Germany,” full independence “of Eastern European countries and control of United Nations Atomic Energy. Like Truman, Eisenhower believed that rearmament of West Germany was vital to NATO’s strategic interests.

1955     The United States established diplomatic relations with West Germany, which included the U.S., British and French territories. With the creation of NATO, of which Germany became a member in 1955, transatlantic relations were deepened.

1961-1963 John F. Kennedy

1960     Good relations between the United States and Federal Germany,especially in the Kennedy government, decried tense moments. During this period, new foreign policy ideas were put forward in the Kenndy government.

1961     The president met with Khrushchev in Vienna, where he made clear that any agreement between East Berlin and the Soviet Union that interfered with the US access rights in West Berlin would be decried as an act of war.

1963     In addition to US aid, President John F. Kennedy made a symbolic gesture of support to the people of Berlin in 1963. During his visit to the city, he famously proclaimed “Ich bin ein Berliner” to show his solidarity with the residents of Berlin.

1963-1969 Lyndon B. Johnson

1968     Despite Johnson’s efforts to end Communist aggression and reach an agreement, the Vietnam War continued. The debate over the war had sharpened by the end of March 1968, when the bombing of North Vietnam limited the negotiations. This has led to strained German-US relations.

1969-1974 Richard Nixon

1969     During the Nixon era, tension in U.S.-Federal Germany relations continued.

1970     There was a problem about the share that Germany should pay for American soldiers in Federal Germany, but again this problem was solved without much growth. But the Vietnam War marked a shift in German attitudes towards the United States. Large protests took place in Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and photos of napalm bombs and deciduous substances used in Vietnamese forests sparked outrage in Germany.

1974-1977 Gerald Ford

1974     The United States officially recognized East Germany in September 1974, when Erich Honecker was leader of the ruling Socialist Unity Party . The United States established diplomatic relations with East Germany in 1974, which included the region of the Soviet Union.

1977-1981 Jimmy Carter

During the reign of Jimmy Carter, relations of the United States with Europe and especially with Federal Germany again entered a bad period. As soon as Carter took over, he immediately sent a message to Federal Germany, stressing that Federal Germany would oppose the sale of nuclear power plants that it had agreed with Brazil.

1979     The anti-American mood in Germany was further amplified by NATO’s 1979 bi-directional resolution, which agreed to the deployment of the next generation of US rockets and cruise missiles in the country . However, Carter’s call for an economic embargo and non-participation in the Olympics to be held in the USSR, especially to other states within the Western bloc after the invasion of Afghanistan, did not bring the reaction he expected internationally. West Germany and Japan, allies of the United States, which have close trade relations with the USSR, did not comply with this call. There has also been various reactions from the American public to Carter’s policy.

1981-1989 Ronald Reagan

From the beginning to the end of the 1980s, another negative dimension emerged in U.S.-Federal Germany relations: with the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, the United States imposed boycotts on the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. But Federal Germany did not willingly participate in this boycott, because it did not want a renewed deterioration in its policy of softening with the Eastern Bloc countries. In particular, Federal Germany aimed to intensify its relations with East Germany at the time, and even during this East-West conflict, there was an attempt to arrange a meeting between Federal German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and East German sed Party leader Erich Hon decker.

1989-1993 George H. W. Bush

1989     The fall of the Berlin Wall ignited the fuse of a new era in German-American relations. When the German people broke down the wall separating East and West, the gates of democracy were opened. Markets were liberalised and access to technology and information was made available to more people around the world.

The process, which began with the fall of the Berlin Wall, continued with the change of decisiveness in Eastern European countries. Germany has become a member of NATO, and Ukraine and Belarus have declared independence. Here is George H., who was president of the United States during this period W. Bush supported Yeltsin and sided with the reforms. 

1990     West Germany and East Germany are united.

1993-2001 Bill Clinton

1993     The Clinton administration took aggressive action, ignoring both the United Nations and key European allies. The proposed policy was called removal and strike . The Plan was to lift the UN arms embargo on all sides, which disarmed Bosnian Muslims. The United States would arm them so that they could defend themselves. until they were fully prepared to fight for themselves, the United States would strike with airstrikes to keep the Bosnian Serbs behind. Christopher travelled to Europe to seek support from Britain, France and Germany, but they were all staunchly opposed.

2001-2009 George W. Bush

2001     After September 11 attacks , German-American political relations were strengthened for the purpose of fighting terrorism, and Germany sent troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO force . Still, the dispute over the Iraq war persisted, with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and foreign minister Joschka Fischer making efforts to avert war and not joining the United States and Britain, both of whom led the multinational force in Iraq . September 11, 2001 attacks decimated the enemy, with German intellectuals suggesting there were ugly links between globalization, Americanization, and terrorism.

However, the mood of European public opinion changed immediately after the terrorist attacks of New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. Shortly after the attacks, German Chancellor Schröder declared “unconditional solidarity” with the United States. A remarkable wave of solidarity has prompted millions of people across Europe to show their support for America on the streets.

2003     The relationship between the duo was once again clouded Dec. Schröder, then-U.S. President George W. Bush When Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, he refused to provide any assistance.

2007     Established to coordinate U.S. military operations in Africa and was founded on February 6, 2007 by President G. W. AFRICOM, which was made public by Bush, began active service in January 2008. Due to the skepticism of African countries towards the United States, the United States could not find a volunteer African country to establish a base for this new army, and the headquarters of the army was deployed in southern Germany (Stuttgart). AFRICOM is the first program to collect all military aid programs to the region under one roof and develop them within the Ministry of Defense.

2009-2017 Barack Obama

Long-standing close relations with the United States developed, especially during the Obama administration (2009-2017).

2013     In response to mass surveillance disclosures, Germany canceled the 1968 intelligence-sharing agreement with the United States and Britain.

2016     President Barack Obama hailed Chancellor Angela Merkel as his “closest international partner.”

2016-2021 Donald Trump

However, relations deteriorated significantly during the Trump administration (2017-2021), particularly on NATO funding , trade, tariffs and Germany’s energy dependence on Russia .

2017     Merkel meets with Trump Dec. U.S. statements during previous administrations that trade deals were being used had already strained relations with many EU countries and other American allies. Trump and Merkel’s negative talk of each other has decimated relations between the two countries.

The US-Germany Relationship Today

At the 2021 talks and meetings with Merkel and other European leaders, President Joe Biden talked about bilateral relations, strengthening transatlantic relations through NATO and the European Union, and close coordination on key issues such as Iran, China, Russia, Afghanistan, climate change. In early February 2021, Biden withdrew the Trump administration’s 9,500 troops from US military bases in Germany. This was welcomed by Berlin, saying the move “serves European and transatlantic security and is therefore in our mutual interest”.

Merkel will meet with Biden in Washington in July 2021 with an agenda covering the COVID-19 pandemic, global warming and economic issues. Trump’s opposition to the $11 billion Nord Stream gas pipeline remains an unresolved issue in the Biden administration.

Conclusion

The conflicts that have arisen or will arise between the USA and Germany will be eliminated without exaggerating and by finding a way, since the common interests of the two countries are intense. As a result, the special relations between 1949 and 1989 and the USA’s continuous support for West Germany and its adoption of the unification of the two Germanys were not forgotten by Germany, and Germany therefore feels indebted to the USA in some way and therefore its relations with the USA, Despite everything, he does not want to spoil it.

Economically and geopolitically, the US-German alliance has become the cornerstone of trans-Atlantic relations. Despite their disagreements over the Iraq War and US National Security Agency espionage, Americans and Germans view each other as reliable allies. However, the Germans are a little more cautious about the alliance than the Americans.


References

 A.B. Faust, The German Element in the United States with Special Reference to Its Political, Moral, Social, and Educational Influence. (2 vol 1909), vol 1.

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ARI Tayyar, Amerika’da Siyasal Yapı, Lobiler ve Dış Politika: Türk, Yunan, Ermeni, İsrail ve Arap Lobilerinin ABD’nin Dış Politikasına Etkileri, Alfa Basım Yayım Dağıtım, İstanbul, 1996.

BARICHELLA, A., “The Trump presidency: What consequences will this have on Europe”, 16 Ocak 2017, http://www.robert-schuman.eu/en/european-issues/0417- the-trump-presidency-what-consequences-will-this-have-on-europe

BARRETT Robby C., The Greater Middle East and the Cold War: US Foreign Policy under Eisenhower and Kennedy, TJ International Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall, Great Britain, 2007

Giddens,  Anthony.  Turbulent and mighty continent: What future for Europe?. Cambridge:  Polity Press, 2013.

GREEN Stephen, “The US Does Not Need Israel”, American Foreign Policy: Opposing ViewPoints, editors. David L. Bender-Bruno Leone, Greenhaven Press, USA, 1987, pp. 153-157.

GÜNEY Pelin, “Marshall Planı: Avrupa Birliği’nin İnşasında Amerikan Harcı”, Ankara Avrupa Çalışmaları Dergisi, Cilt. 5, No. 3, Bahar 2006, ss. 103-114.

Hacke, Christian (2006), “Deutsche Außenpolitik unter Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel”, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 43/2006, s. 30–37.

Haftendorn,  Helga.  Coming of age: German foreign policy since 1945. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.

John J. McCloy, Military Governor and U.S. High Commissioner for Germany (HICOG) (1949-1952)  Deutsch

MARKHAM Jerry W., A Financial History of the United States: From J.P. Morgan to the Institutional Investor (1900–1970), Vol. 2, M. E. Sharpe Inc. , USA, 2002

OBAMA, B., “Remarks by President Obama at Strasbourg Town Hall”, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 2009, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-pressoffice/remarks-president-obama-strasbourg-town-hall

Shepard Stone, Information Officer, U.S. High Commission (HICOG) (1950-1952)(Deutsch )


Details

Field and Serial Number of the Report

International Affairs – IA1007-EN

Writers

Tuba YILDIRIM

Editors

Oğuzhan ÇİÇEK

Dates

Application Date: July 7, 2021

Application Approval Date: July 7, 2021

Date of Issue: August 30, 2021

Last Update: August 30, 2021

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