Relations between Germany and the United States have seen better days, one might argue. Trust between the countries has suffered in the wake of the NSA spying scandal as the German public is proving to be rather unforgiving of the fact that one of their most important allies has been snooping them out. In this blog I’ve steered clear of this and other political topics. The reference to the current transatlantic rift is necessary, though, because of new survey data which has been released in January 2014.
Americans, in turns out, have increasingly positive feelings about Deutschland. In fact, when asked about their general impression of Germany in the fall of 2013, a majority of people in the U.S. answered with “strong.” If you look at the chart below you’ll see that this positive impression is at its highest level in over a decade.
These are the results of a tracking survey conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc. which has been asking Americans since 2002 how they feel about the U.S.-German relationship. The affirming views of Germany have grown stronger on various levels, compared to the results from two years ago.
In fact, Germany remains the most important non-English speaking country in the eyes of most Americans:
And even though most survey respondents said they aren’t getting enough information about Germany, it appears that they have been sensing the strain that the spying revelations have put on the transatlantic partnership. When asked if they think Germans like the United States and Americans, the number of those who said “yes” went down noticeably (7% since 2011), while the “no” and “not sure” responses went up.
Even though most people in the U.S. may have a different opinion on the NSA scandal than those in Germany, Americans seem to have a keen sense of how this affair is affecting the USA views abroad. More respondents than last time expressed the impression that current relations between the two countries have been changing for the worse to a certain degree.
Despite these recent issues the survey overall confirmed the results from previous years: Germany is viewed in the U.S. as a modern and forward-thinking society, a country that plays an important role in international politics and that promotes democracy and peace. Deutschland is also perceived as a major economic power, an anchor of stability in Europe, a global leader in research and technology, and as an important economic partner of the United States that drives global growth.
Americans also feel that Germany is the non-Anglo-Saxon country they share most values with. Almost four out of ten people in the U.S. say they have common values with Germans. While these numbers trump those for common values with countries like Mexico, France, China, Israel or Japan, they still do not indicate a high degree of similarities between Germany and the United States. The survey is merely measuring people’s perception.
Those of you who have worked with both cultures know that in reality the differences can be quite significant and need to be addressed.
If you want to take a closer look at the survey data, just follow this link to the full presentation (PDF).
Now it’s your turn: What is YOUR impression of Germany? When you leave your response in the comment section below, please make sure to identify your country of origin.