German Americans ( ) are
Americans of German descent.
They form the largest
self-reported ancestry group
United States, outnumbering the Irish
. They account for 50
million people, or 17% of the U.S. population. California and Texas have the
largest populations of German origin, although upper Midwestern
states, including North
Dakota and Wisconsin, have the highest proportion of German-American
the German states had overseas colonies, so not until the 1680s did
the first significant groups of German immigrants arrive in the
British colonies, settling primarily in New York and Pennsylvania. Immigration
very large numbers during the nineteenth century, with some eight
million arrivals from Germany. They were pulled by the attractions
of land and religion freedom, and pushed out of Europe by shortages
of land and religious or political oppression. Many arrived seeking
religious or political freedom, others for economic opportunities
greater than those in Europe, and others simply for the chance to
start fresh in the New World.
influential in almost every field, from science to architecture,
industry, sports, and entertainment. Some, like Brooklyn Bridge engineer John
, left behind visible
landmarks. Others, like Albert
and Wernher von
, set intellectual landmarks. Still others, like Babe Ruth
, Lou Gehrig
, and Leonardo DiCaprio
athletes and actors.
German-American celebrations are held
throughout the country, one of the most well-known being the
German-American Steuben Parade in New York
City, held every third Saturday in September.
also major annual events in Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, St. Louis and other cities. Like many other
immigrants that came to the United States overwhelming number of people of German or partial
German descent have essentially become Americanized.
The first English settlers arrived at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607,
and were accompanied by the first German American, Dr. Johannes
Fleischer. He was followed in 1608 by five glassmakers and three
carpenters or house builders. The first permanent German settlement in what
became the United States was Germantown,
Pennsylvania, founded near Philadelphia on October 6, 1683.
Large numbers of Germans migrated from the 1680s to 1760s, with
Pennsylvania the favored destination. They migrated to America for
a variety of reasons; Push factors
involved worsening opportunities for farm ownership in central
Europe, persecution of some religious groups, and military
conscription; pull factors
better economic conditions, especially the opportunity to own land,
and religious freedom. Often immigrants paid for their passage by
selling their labor for a period of years as indentured servants
sections of Pennsylvania and upstate New
York attracted Germans.
Most were Lutheran
; many belonged to small religious sects such as the
. German Catholics
did not arrive
in number until after the war of 1812.
Protestant Germans from the Pfalz or Palatine region of Germany escaped
conditions of hardship, traveling first to Rotterdam and then to
helped them get to her
colonies in America. The trip was long and difficult to survive
because of the poor quality of food and water aboard ships and the
infectious disease typhus
, or Palatine fever.
Many immigrants, particularly children, died before reaching
America in June 1710.
The Palatine immigration of about 2100 people who survived was the
largest single immigration to America in the colonial period. Most
were first settled along the Hudson
in work camps, to pay off their passage. By 1711, seven
villages had been established in New York on the Robert Livingston
Germans became the first Europeans allowed to buy land in the
Mohawk Valley west of Little
One hundred homesteads were allocated in
the Burnetsfield Patent. By 1750, the Germans occupied a strip some
long along both sides of the Mohawk
. The soil was excellent; some 500 houses were built,
mostly of stone, and the region prospered in spite of Indian raids.
best-known of the German settlements in a region long known as the
The most famous of the early German Palatine immigrants was editor
John Peter Zenger
, who in colonial
New York City led the fight for freedom of the press in America. A
later immigrant, John Jacob Astor
who came from Baden after the Revolutionary War, became the richest
man in America from his fur trading and real estate investments in
New York City.
of German colonists in 1714 and 1717 founded a large colony in
Virginia called Germanna, located
near modern-day Culpeper, Virginia. Large German settlements were also formed in
west of what is now Winston-Salem. There were also many German settlers around
the Dutch (Deutsch) Fork area of South Carolina.A thriving population of Germans lived
upriver from New
They were attracted to the area through
pamphlets such as J. Hanno Deiler's "Louisiana: A Home for German
1742 and 1753, roughly 1,000 Germans settled in Broad Bay,
Massachusetts (now Waldoboro, Maine). Many of the colonists fled to Boston, Nova Scotia, and North Carolina after their houses were burned and their neighbors
killed or carried into captivity by Native
The Germans who remained found it difficult
to survive on farming and eventually turned to the shipping and
of German immigration to Pennsylvania swelled between 1725 and 1775, with many immigrants
arriving as redemptioners or indentured
By 1775, Germans constituted about one-third of
the population of the state. German farmers were renowned for their
highly productive animal husbandry and agricultural practices.
Politically, they were generally inactive until 1740, when they
joined a Quaker
coalition that took control of the legislature, which later
supported the American
. Despite this, many of the German settlers were
Revolution, possibly because they feared that their royal land
grants would be taken away by a new republican government, or
because of loyalty to a British German monarchy who had provided
the opportunity to live in a liberal society. The Germans,
, and other
sects, developed a rich religious life with a strong musical
culture. Collectively, they came to be known as the Pennsylvania Dutch
). There were few German Catholics in Pennsylvania
before the 1810s.
Studebaker brothers, forefathers of the
wagon and automobile makers, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1736 from
the famous blade town of Solingen.
With their skills they made wagons that
carried the frontiersmen westward; their cannons provided the
with artillery in the American Civil War
, and their automobile
company became one of the largest in America, although never
eclipsing the "Big Three", and was a factor in the war effort
and in the industrial foundations of
When the American Revolutionary War broke out, Britain made
arrangements with German princes to hire some 30,000 "Hessian" soldiers
fight against the American army. The largest group came from the country
of Hesse, and the
soldiers are often referred to as Hessians.
Many became prisoners on
American farms, some of whom permanently settled in America.
From names in the 1790 U.S. census, historians estimate that
Germans constituted nearly 9% of the white population in the United
German population density in the
United States, 1872.
Heavy German immigration to the United States occurred between 1848
and World War I
, during which time
nearly six million Germans emigrated to the United States. From
1840 to 1880 they were the largest group of immigrants. Following
of 1848 in the German states
, a wave of political refugees fled
to America, who became known as Forty-Eighters
. They included professionals,
journalists, and politicians. Prominent Forty-Eighters included
and Henry Villard
cities of Milwaukee, Cincinnati, St.
Louis, Chicago, New
York, and Baltimore were favored destinations of German
immigrants. By 1900, the populations of the cities of
Cleveland, Milwaukee, Hoboken, and Cincinnati were all more than 40% German American.
Dubuque and Davenport, Iowa had even
larger proportions, as did Omaha, Nebraska, where the proportion of
German Americans was 57% in 1910. In many other
Northern cities, such as Fort Wayne, Indiana, German Americans were at least 30% of the
population. Many concentrations acquired distinctive
names suggesting their heritage, such as the "Over the Rhine"
district in Cincinnati and "German Village" in Columbus, Ohio.
favorite destination was Milwaukee, known as "the German Athens."
Germans trained in politics in the Old Country dominated the city's
workers dominated many crafts, while entrepreneurs created the
brewing industry; the most famous brands included Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, and Blatz.
While half of German immigrants settled in cities, the other half
established farms in the Midwest
. From Ohio
to the Plains States, a heavy presence persists in rural areas into
the 21st century.
Few Germans went to the Deep South
from some in New Orleans.
Texas attracted many Germans who entered through Galveston, both
those who came to farm and later immigrants who more rapidly took
industrial jobs in cities such as Houston. As in Milwaukee, Germans
in Houston built the brewing industry. By the 1920s, the first
generation of college-educated German Americans were moving into
the chemical and oil industries.
Texas had about 20,000 German Americans in the 1850s. They did not
form a uniform bloc, but were highly diverse and drew from
geographic areas and all sectors of European society, except that
very few aristocrats or upper middle class businessmen arrived. In
this regard Texas Germania was a microcosm of the Germania
The Germans who settled Texas were diverse in many
They included peasant farmers and intellectuals;
Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and atheists; Prussians, Saxons,
Hessians, and Alsatians; abolitionists and slave owners; farmers
and townsfolk; frugal, honest folk and ax murderers.
They differed in dialect, customs, and physical
A majority had been farmers in Germany, and most
arrived seeking economic opportunities.
A few dissident intellectuals fleeing the 1848
revolutions sought political freedom, but few, save perhaps the
Wends, went for religious freedom.
The German settlements in Texas reflected their
Even in the confined area of the Hill Country, each
valley offered a different kind of German.
The Llano valley had stern, teetotaling German
Methodists, who renounced dancing and fraternal organizations; the
Pedernales valley had fun-loving, hardworking Lutherans and
Catholics who enjoyed drinking and dancing; and the Guadalupe
valley had atheist Germans descended from intellectual political
The scattered German ethnic islands were also
These small enclaves included Lindsay in Cooke County,
largely Westphalian Catholic; Waka in Ochiltree County, Midwestern
Mennonite; Hurnville in Clay County, Russian German Baptist; and
Lockett in Wilbarger County, Wendish Lutheran.
Russian ("Volga") Germans
The German Russians or "Volga Germans" were the most traditional of
all German-speaking arrivals. They were Germans who had lived for
generations along the Volga River in Russia; about 100,000
immigrated by 1900 and settled in relatively poor lands in the
Dakotas, Kansas and Nebraska--the south-central part of North
Dakota was known as the German-Russian triangle. They were
Lutherans, Mennonites or Catholics but no educated Germans-speaking
pastors, teachers, professional men, or tradesmen had joined the
peasants who migrated to America. The older generation was still
speaking German (they never spoke Russian) in the 1940s, while the
next generation was bilingual. Negatively influenced by their
miseries and isolation in Russia, they saw themselves a downtrodden
class cheated by townspeople, businessmen and railroads; they
raised large families with harsh discipline; they wanted their
children to be farmers so took them out of school around age 14;
they treated their womenfolk as inferior, and were slow to
diversify their farms. Many farmers specialized in sugar
beets--still a major crop in the upper Great Plains. In World War I
(1917-18) their patriotism was ambiguous; distrusted by their
neighbors they rejected prohibition and Americanization efforts and
supported radical far-left political movements such as the NPL
Sentiment among German Americans was largely anti-slavery,
especially among Forty-Eighters. Hundreds of thousands of German
Americans volunteered to fight for the Union
in the American Civil War
Germans were the largest immigrant group to participate in the
Civil War; over 176,000 U.S. soldiers were born in Germany. A
popular Union commander among Germans, Major General Franz Sigel
was the highest-ranking German
officer in the Union Army
, with many
German immigrants claiming to enlist to "fight mit
Although only one in four Germans fought in all-German regiments,
they created the public image of the German soldier. Pennsylvania
fielded five German regiments; New York eleven, and Ohio six.
Relatively few German Americans held office, but the men voted once
they became citizens. In general, the Protestants and Jews leaned
toward the Republican party and the Catholics were strongly
Democratic. If prohibition was on the ballot, the Germans voted
solidly against it. They strongly distrusted moralistic crusaders,
whom they called "Puritans." This included the temperance reformers
and many Populists
The German community strongly opposed Free
, and voted heavily against crusader William Jennings Bryan
in 1896. In
1900, however, many German Democrats returned to their party and
voted for Bryan, perhaps because of President William McKinley
's foreign policy.
World War I anti-German sentiment
World War I, German Americans were sometimes accused of being too
sympathetic to the German
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.
World War I war bond posters depicted
caricatures of Germans.
About 1% of the 480,000 enemy aliens of German birth were
imprisoned in 1917-18. The allegations included spying for Germany,
or indorsing the German war effort. Thousands were forced to buy
war bonds to show their loyalty. 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. A Minnesota minister was tarred
and feathered when he was overheard praying in German with a
In Chicago Frederick Stock
temporarily stepped down as conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
he finalized his naturalization papers. Orchestras replaced music
by German composer Wagner
. In Cincinnati, the public library of Cincinnati was asked to
withdraw all German books from its shelves.
streets were renamed. For example, in Indianapolis, Germania Avenue was renamed Pershing Avenue — for a World War I general
of German descent. 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
). The response of German
Americans to these tactics was often to "Americanize
" names (e.g. Schmidt to Smith,
Müller to Miller) and limit the use of the German language
in public places, especially
World War II
Between 1931 and 1940, 114,000 Germans moved to the United States,
many of whom—including Nobel prize winner Albert Einstein
—were Jewish Germans
fleeing government oppression. About
25,000 people became paying members of the pro-Nazi German American Bund
during the years
before the war. Germans 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
German-born resident aliens to register with the Federal government
and restricted their travel and property ownership rights. Under
the still active Alien Enemy Act
, the United States government interned nearly 11,000 German
between 1940 and 1948. Most were not American
citizens. Some of these were United States citizens; some were the
parents of active military men. Civil rights violations occurred.
Five hundred were arrested without warrant. Others were held
without charge for months or interrogated without benefit of legal
counsel. Convictions were not eligible for appeal. An unknown
number of "voluntary internees" joined their spouses and parents in
the camps and were not permitted to leave.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
did not hesitate to name
Americans of German ancestry to top war jobs, including General
Dwight D. Eisenhower
, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
, and General Carl Andrew Spaatz
. He appointed
Republican Wendell Willkie
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
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.
aftermath of World War II, millions of
were expelled from nations in eastern
Europe, including the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary and Yugoslavia.
Most resettled in Germany, but others came as refugees
to the United States in the late 1940s and
established cultural centers in their new homes. Some Danube Swabians, for instance, ethnic Germans who had maintained language
and customs after settlement along the Danube
in Hungary, later Yugoslavia (now Serbia),
immigrated to the U.S. after the war.
After 1970 anti-German sentiment aroused by World War II faded
away. Today, German Americans who immigrated after World War II
share the same characteristics as any other Western European
immigrant group in the U.S. They are mostly professionals and
academics who have come for professional reasons. Germany has been
a preferred destination for immigrants rather than a source of
In the 1990 U.S. Census
, 58 million Americans
claimed to be solely or partially of German descent. According to
the 2005 American Community Survey, 50 million Americans have
German ancestry. German Americans represent 17% of the total U.S.
population and 26% of the non-Hispanic white
Of the four major U.S. regions, German was the most-reported
ancestry in the Midwest
, second in the
, and third in both the Northeast
and the South
. German was the top
reported ancestry in 23 states, and it was one of the top five
reported ancestries in every state except Maine and
The Germans worked hard to maintain and cultivate their language,
especially through newspapers and classes in elementary and high
schools. There German Americans in many cities, such
as Milwaukee, brought their strong support of education,
establishing German-language schools and teacher training
seminaries (Töchter-Institut) to prepare students and
teachers in German language training.
By the late 19th
century, the Germania Publishing Company was established in
Milwaukee, a publisher of books, magazines, and newspapers in
"Germania" was the common term for German American neighborhoods
and their organizations. Deutschtum
was the term for
transplanted German nationalism, both culturally and politically.
Between 1875 and 1915, the German American population in the United
States doubled, and many of its members insisted on maintaining
their culture. German was used in local schools and churches, while
numerous 'Vereine,' associations dedicated to literature, humor,
gymnastics, and singing, sprang up in German American communities.
German Americans tended to support the German government's actions,
and, even after the United States entered World War I, they often
voted for antidraft and antiwar candidates. 'Deutschtum' in the
United States disintegrated after 1918.
The spiritual beliefs of Johann Conrad Beissel (1690-1768) and the
Ephrata Cloister - such as the asceticism and mysticism of this
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, group - are reflected in Beissel's
treatises on music and hymns, which have been considered the
beginning of America's musical heritage.
In most major cities Germans took the lead in creating a musical
culture, with popular bands, singing societies, operas and
city such as Wheeling, West Virginia, could boast of 11 singing societies -
Maennerchor, Harmonie, Liedertafel, Beethoven, Concordia,
Liederkranz, Germania, Teutonia, Harmonie-Maennerchor, Arion, and
The first began in 1855; the last folded in 1961. An
important aspect of Wheeling social life, these societies reflected
various social classes and enjoyed great popularity until
anti-German sentiments during World War I and changing social
values dealt them a death blow.
The Liederkranz, a German-American music society, played an
important role in the integration of the German community into the
life of Louisville, Kentucky. Started in 1848, the organization was
strengthened by the arrival of German liberals after the failure of
the revolution of that year. By the mid-1850s the Germans formed
one-third of Louisville's population and faced nativist hostility
organized in the Know-Nothing movement. Violent demonstrations
forced the chorus to suppress publicity of its performances that
included works by composer Richard Wagner. The Liederkranz
suspended operations during the Civil War, but afterward grew
rapidly and was able to build a large auditorium by 1873. An
audience of 8,000 that attended a performance in 1877 demonstrated
that the Germans were an accepted part of Louisville life.
The Imperial government in Berlin promoted German culture in the
U.S., especially music. During the late 19th and early 20th
centuries, the preponderance of German music on American symphony
stages went hand in hand with the Kaiser's agenda for Germany's
global expansion. After Germany's unification in 1871, German
cultural diplomacy aimed increasingly to convince Anglo-American
elites of the superiority of German culture to win political allies
in the United States. A steady influx of German-born conductors,
including Arthur Nikisch and Karl Muck, spurred the reception of
German music in the United States, while German musicians seized on
Victorian Americans' growing concern with 'emotion.' The
performance of pieces such as Beethoven's 'Ninth Symphony'
established German serious music as the superior language of
feeling, filling audiences with awe for the superiority not just of
German art but of Germany in general - precisely the respect for
German greatness and emotionalism that William II wanted to
Turner societies in the United States were first organized during
the mid-19th century so German American immigrants could visit with
one another and become involved in social and sports activities.
The National Turnerbund, the head organization of the Turnvereine,
started drilling members as in militia units in 1854. Nearly half
of all Turners fought in the Civil War, mostly on the Union side,
and a special group served as bodyguards for President
By the 1890s, Turners numbered nearly 65,000. At the turn of the
21st century, however, with the ethnic identity of European
Americans in flux and Americanization a key element of immigrant
life, there were few Turner groups, athletic events were limited,
and non-Germans were members. A survey of surviving groups and
members reflects these radical changes in the role of Turner
societies and their marginalization in 21st-century American
society, as younger German Americans tended not to belong, even in
strongholds of German heritage in the Midwest.
By the late 19th century Germania published over 800 regular
publications. The most prestigious daily newspapers such as the
New Yorker Staats Zeitung
and the Illinois
in Chicago promoted middle-class values and
encouraged German ethnic loyalty among their readership.
Germans brought organized gymnastics to America and were strong
supporters of sports programs. They used sport both to promote
ethnic identity and pride and to facilitate integration into
American society. Beginning in the mid-19th century, the Turner
movement offered exercise and sports programs
while also providing a social haven for the thousands of new German
immigrants arriving in the United States each year. Another highly
successful German sports organization was the Buffalo Germans
basketball team, winners of
762 games (against only 85 losses) in the early years of the 20th
century. These examples, and others, reflect the evolving place of
sport in the assimilation and socialization of much of the
German immigrants who arrived before the nineteenth century tended
to be members of the Evangelical Church in Germany. They created
denomination (especially in New York and Pennsylvania), and the
denomination (strongest in the Midwest), which are now part of the
United Church of Christ
Many immigrants joined different churches from those that existed
in Germany. Protestants often joined the Methodist
Before 1800, communities of Amish
, Moravians and Hutterites
had formed and are still in existence
today. Some still speak dialects of German, including Pennsylvania
German, informally known as Pennsylvania Dutch
Amish, who were originally from southern Germany and Switzerland, arrived in Pennsylvania during the early 18th
Amish immigration to the United States reached its
peak between the years 1727 and 1770. Religious freedom was perhaps
the most pressing cause for Amish immigration to Pennsylvania,
which became known as a haven for persecuted religious
1850 census map shows Lutheran
Nearly all were German since few Scandinavians had arrived
The Hutterites are another example of a group of German Americans
who continue a lifestyle similar to that of their ancestors. Like
the Amish, they fled persecution for their religious beliefs and
came to the United States in 1870. Today Hutterites mostly reside in
Dakotas, and Minnesota, and the western provinces of Canada.
Hutterites continue to speak German
Most are able to speak Standard German in addition to their
Immigrants from Germany in the mid- to late-1800s brought many
different religions with them. The most numerous were Lutheran
, although the Lutherans were
themselves split among different groups. The more conservative
Lutherans comprised the Lutheran Church–Missouri
and the Wisconsin Evangelical
. Other Lutherans formed a complex checkerboard
of synods, most of which merged with Scandinavian-based synods in
1988, forming the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America
Some 19th century immigrants, especially the "48ers", were secular,
rejecting formal religion. About 250,000 German Jews had arrived by
the 1870s, and they sponsored reform synagogues in many small
cities across the country. About 2.0 million Eastern European Jews
arrived from the 1880s to 1924, bringing more traditional religious
See German language
After two or three generations, German Americans adopted mainstream
American customs—some of which they heavily influenced—and switched
their language to English
. As one
scholar concludes, "The overwhelming evidence … indicates that the
German-American school was a bilingual one much (perhaps a whole
generation or more) earlier than 1917, and that the majority of the
pupils may have been English-dominant bilinguals from the early
1880s on." By 1914 the older members attended German-language
church services while younger ones attended English services (in
Lutheran, Evangelical and Catholic churches). In German parochial
schools, the children spoke English among themselves, though some
of their classes were in German. In 1917–18, after the US entry
into WWI on the side of the British, nearly all German language
instruction ended, as did most German-language church
About 1.5 million Americans speak German today. In 1860-1917 German
was widely spoken in German neighborhoods; see German in the United States
There is a false myth, called the Muhlenberg legend
, that German was almost
the official language of the U.S. There was never any such
proposal. The U.S. has no official
, but use of German was strongly discouraged during
World War I and fell out of daily use in many places.
There were fierce battles in Wisconsin and Illinois around 1890
regarding proposals to stop the use of German as the primary
language in public and parochial schools. The Bennett Law' was a highly controversial state
law passed in Wisconsin in 1889, that required the use of English to teach
major subjects in all public and private elementary and high
It affected the state's many German-language
private schools (and some Norwegian schools), and was bitterly
resented by German-American
communities. The German Catholics and Lutherans each operated large
networks of parochial schools
the state. Because the language used in the classroom was German,
the law meant that the teachers would have to be replaced with
bilingual teachers, and in most cases shut down. The Germans formed
a coalition between Catholics and Lutherans, under the leadership
of the Democratic Party, and the language issue produced a
landslide for the Democrats, as Republicans dropped the issue until
World War I. By 1917 almost all schools taught in English, but
courses in German were common in areas with large German
populations. These courses were permanently dropped.
"Assimilation" in this context means the steady loss of distinctive
characteristics (especially language), as the Germans melted into a
common American nationality. In 1910 German Americans had created
their own distinctive, vibrant, prosperous German-language
communities, called "Germania". The transition to an English
language world was abrupt, forced by the World War. After 1917 the
German language was seldom heard in public; most newspapers and
magazines closed; churches and parochial schools switched to
English. Youth increasingly attended high schools, where they
mingled, in English, and dated other ethnics. The Catholic high
schools were deliberately structured to commingle ethnic groups so
as to promote intermarriage. German-speaking taverns, beer gardens
and saloons were all shut down by prohibition; those that reopened
in 1933 spoke English. By the 1940s Germania had largely vanished
outside remote areas and the Germans were thoroughly
Historians have tried to explain what happened. Kazal (2004) looks
at Germans in Philadelphia, focusing on four ethnic subcultures:
middle-class Vereinsdeutsche, working-class socialists, Lutherans,
and Catholics. Each group followed a somewhat distinctive path
toward assimilation. Lutherans, and the better situated
Vereinsdeutsche with whom they often overlapped, after World War I
abandoned the last major German characteristics and redefined
themselves as old stock or as "Nordic" Americans, stressing their
colonial roots in Pennsylvania and distancing themselves from more
recent immigrants. On the other hand, working-class and Catholic
Germans, groups that heavily overlapped, lived and worked with
Irish and other European ethnics; they also gave up German
characteristics but came to identify themselves as white ethnics,
distancing themselves above all from African American recent
arrivals in nearby neighborhoods. Well before World War I, women in
particular were becoming more and more involved in a mass consumer
culture that lured them out of their German-language neighborhood
shops and into English language downtown department stores. The
1920s and 1930s brought English language popular culture via movies
and radio that drowned out the few surviving German language
German American influence
Germans have contributed to a vast number of areas in American
culture and technology. Baron von Steuben
, a former
officer, led the reorganization of
the U.S. Army
during the War for
and helped make the victory against British troops
possible. The Steinway & Sons piano manufacturing firm was founded by immigrant
Henry E. Steinway
in 1853. German settlers brought
the Christmas tree
custom to the
United States. The Studebakers
large numbers of wagons used during the Western migration;
Studebaker, like the Duesenberg
later became an important early automobile manufacturer. Carl Schurz
, a refugee from the unsuccessful
first German democratic revolution of
became an influential politician first in the Republican
then in the Democratic party, and served as U.S. Secretary of the
World War II, Wernher von Braun,
and most of the leading engineers from the former German V-2 rocket
base at Peenemünde, were brought to the U.S. They contributed
decisively to the development of U.S. military rockets, as well as
rockets for the NASA space
The influence of German cuisine
seen in the cuisine of the
throughout the country, especially regarding
pastries, meats and sausages, and above all, beer. Frankfurters (or "wieners", originating from
Main and Vienna,
respectively), hamburgers, bratwurst, sauerkraut,
and strudel are common dishes.
bakers introduced the pretzel
. Germans have
almost totally dominated the beer
Milwaukee was once the home to four of the world's largest
German breweries (Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Miller), and was the
number one beer producing city in the world for many years.
Almost half of all current beer sales in the United States can be
attributed to German immigrants, Capt. A. Pabst, Eberhard
Anheuser and Adolphus Busch, who founded Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis in 1860.
One of the areas in which the influence of German cuisine is
strongest is the small town Midwest. German-American
celebrations, such as Oktoberfest, German-American
Day and Von Steuben Day are held
regularly throughout the country. One of the largest is
the German-American Steuben Parade in New York City, held every third Saturday in
September. There are also major annual events in
Square neighborhood, a traditional a center of the
city's German population, in Cincinnati, where its annual Octoberfest Zinzinnati
is the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany and in Milwaukee, which
celebrates its German heritage with an annual German Fest.
Skat, the most popular card game in Germany, is also played in areas of the United States with
large German American populations, such as Wisconsin and Texas.
There have been two presidents whose fathers were of German
descent: Dwight Eisenhower
(original family name Eisenhauer
and maternal side is also
German/Swiss) and Herbert Hoover
(original family name Huber
). Presidents with maternal
German ancestry include Richard Milhous
(Nixon's maternal ancestors were Germans who anglicized
most German Americans have assimilated to the point that they no
longer have readily identifiable ethnic communities, though there
are still many metropolitan areas where German is the most reported
ethnicity, such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis – Saint Paul, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.
U.S. communities with high percentages of people of German
The 10 U.S. communities with the highest percentage of residents
claiming German ancestry are:
Township, Putnam County, Ohio 83.6%%
Township, Mercer County, Ohio 79.6%%
- St. Henry, Ohio 78.5%
- Germantown Township, Clinton County,
Township, Dubois County, Indiana 77.3%
- Washington Township, Mercer County,
- Saint Rose Township, Clinton County,
Township, Mercer County, Ohio 76.4%
Township, Mercer County, Ohio 76.3%
Township, Putnam County, Ohio and Germantown, Illinois 75.6%
U.S. communities with the most residents born in Germany
The 10 U.S. communities with the highest proportion of residents
born in Germany are:
- Lely Resort, Florida 6.8%
- Pemberton Heights, New Jersey 5.0%
- Kempner, Texas 4.8%
- Cedar Glen Lakes, New Jersey 4.5%
- Alamogordo, New Mexico 4.3%
- Sunshine Acres, Florida 4.2%
- Leisureville, Florida 4.2%
- Wakefield, Kansas 4.1%
- Quantico, Virginia 4.0%
- Crestwood Village, New Jersey 3.8%
- . The 2000 census gives 15.2% or 42.8 million. The 1990 census
had 23.3% or 57.9 million.
- ; ; ;
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