back to

In Historical Reversal, Germany Is Teaching the US About Democracy


In Mother Jones magazine, Martina Kix reports on a $20 million campaign that the German government will launch in the US this fall. The campaign will present cultural events and discussions about democracy throughout the country in an effort to strengthen ties between Germany and the American people at a time when government relations between the two countries are strained, thanks to President Trump’s bluster and tariff threats. Check out an excerpt from Kix’s article:

That’s the slogan [“Wunderbar Together!”] for an epic charm offensive and pro-democracy campaign the German government is mounting in the United States starting in October. The “Year of Germany in the US,” a $20 million effort, will be announced Saturday in Berlin. Spanning 15 months, it will include more than 1,000 cultural events across all 50 states, ranging from film screenings and democracy discussions to the “Wunderbus,” a mobile diplomatic mission that will stop at some six dozen American schools and engage students in building Bauhaus miniatures. “We want to reach the children and the elderly,” explains Christoph Mücher, a director with the Goethe Institute who is in charge of implementing the campaign. “Bauhaus is a big hit everywhere!” There will also be parties and—yes—lots and lots of beer.

Germany has undertaken such efforts in the past. “Since reunification, there has been a tradition of representing political, economic, and cultural interests abroad under the title ‘the year of Germany,’ in countries such as China or Brazil,” Mücher says. Last year, he was part of a team that staged about 1,000 events in Mexico.

But this Year of Germany is more pressing and unprecedented in scale, with four times the budget of the last campaign. Think of it as a friendship revival mission proffered by a very worried coalition of government officials (the German Federal Foreign Office), business leaders (the Federation of German Industries), and cultural ambassadors (the Goethe Institute). Just after Trump was elected, Merkel released a statement: “Germany and America are linked by values: Democracy, freedom, respect for human rights and dignity—regardless of origin, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political opinion. On the basis of these values, I offer close cooperation to the future President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.”

Image: G7 meeting in June 2018. Via Huffington Post.