Germany and America go way back.
German soldiers fought in the American Revolutionary War, and German settlers already had begun finding their way to America before the colonies became a nation. By the 1850s, many Germans had settled in the Midwest, and they followed the frontier west to the Great Plains. Germans were the largest group of immigrants arriving in Nebraska between 1854 and 1894, and by 1900, almost 20 percent of the state was first- and second-generation Germans.
For the past year, a group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism students has closely examined this foreign country that, perhaps more than any other, helped shape the Cornhusker State. In January, 13 students spent 10 days in Berlin, interviewing Germans in government offices and nightclubs, at universities and mosques.
To a large extent, what they found was a tale of two 9/11’s.
Without question, Germany’s long and complicated relationship with the United States – as a source of substantial immigration, as an enemy in two world wars and as a key ally in a protracted East-West Cold War – was changed by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Germany, less inclined to rely on military power to solve international crises, supported U.S. moves in Afghanistan but not in Iraq, straining relations with the U.S. Since then, Germany’s own security has been tested by global terrorism.
But there was an earlier, even more profound 9/11 for Germany. On Nov. 9, 1989 – which, when written European-style, with the day before the month, becomes 9.11.1989 – Germans began tearing down the Berlin Wall. When the dust settled, the Soviet Union was gone, and Germany – split into East and West for 40 years – was reunited.
These two dates – British writer Timothy Garton Ash argues that one marks the end of the 20th century and the other the beginning of the 21st – color nearly everything happening today in Germany.
Our students’ work was aided immensely by Germany’s Goethe-Institut, especially our Berlin tour guides Gerrit Book and Anna Held, and by the German Foreign Office, which assisted with travel expenses. We would also like to thank Viola Drath for her help and inspiration, and Wolfgang Drautz, consul general, and Winfried Völkering, vice consul, in the German Consulate General in Chicago.
Opening Essay: The Road to Rebirth
Culture: Endless Possibilities
Economy: Struggle for Success
Health Care: Splintered Coverage
Social Market: Cornerstone of a Democracy
Currency: All About Change
Military: Beyond Their Borders
Checkpoint Charlie: From Tanks to Tourism
Terrorism: A New Sense of Urgency
Religion: Living Side by Side
Government and Religion: Assessing Religion
Memorials: Monumental Debate
Immigration: No Place to Call Home
Citizenship: Seeking Acceptance
Education: Failing Grade
Kennedy School: Bridging the Divide
Universities: Change in Focus
Women: Redefining Their Roles
European Union: Coming Together
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