Bob Ward writes: “The Germans were ideal alien residents. Maj. Joseph Sestito, U.S. Army…later observed: “They seemed to have a group spirit, based on the idea that on each one’s model behavior rested the glory of the Reich.”
I had lunch yesterday with a donor who is an Englishman who has lived all over the world. He brought up the topic of how a lot of aspects of American life strike him as more German than English, such as American newspapers, which have traditionally aspired to be serious, informative, and responsible, while British newspapers like being outrageous and fun.
He then went off to meet with some German friends and writes:
Good brainstorm over a beer with my buddies on the Germanness of America, some of which I already mentioned:
1. TV advertising (slapstick, not subtle)
2. The Army (are there more German generals than German politicians in the US — which states does army recruit from?)
Pershing, Eisenhower, Schwartzkopf
3. Attitude to self improvement
The German poet Rilke’s mantra “You must change your life” caught on a lot faster in America, especially California, than Britain. For example, my Swiss German paternal grandfather was a health food nut who moved to Southern California 85 years ago to grow his own food in his yard.
4. Easy to scare (see Hollywood), lack of natural scepticism
5. Taking things serious (the brit needs to be seen not to be trying)
6. Lack of irony
7. American English — tendency to use longer words eg. Transportation rather than Transport, tendency to use “The” ie. “The Congress” rather than just “Congress”
8. Law abidingness eg. attitude to jaywalking
A lot of quintessentially American food items, such as the hot dog (which FDR famously served to the King of England in 1939), were popularized at the quite German 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.