German-American relations are characterized by a strong foundation of common values, interests, traditions, and goals. The two countries are connected through a centuries-long common history. A strong network and countless shared personal experiences bind our countries together. Bilateral relations with the United States are of unique political, economic, and cultural importance to Germany.
Nevertheless, transatlantic relations are facing new challenges. Even though the United States is and will always be a key partner and an extremely attractive location for German companies, the framework conditions for German companies in the United States have become more complex.
In May 2017, former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed to hold a “Deutschlandjahr” – a Year of German-American Friendship – in the United States. “Deutschlandjahre” are programmes of the German Federal Government initiated by the Federal Foreign Office and usually carried out together with the Goethe-Institut as project coordinator and other intermediary organizations, ministries, foundations, and partners from the business community. One of the supporters of the initiative is usually the BDI.
Be it culture, business, science, or sports – the Year of German-American Friendship highlighted the deep transatlantic partnership in all areas of our society.
By the end of 2019, more than 2,000 events had taken place, with a total of 1.5 million visitors. More than 400 partner organizations hosted events in all U.S. states.
German business plays an important role in the United States, not just by contributing to economic growth and exports but by creating jobs and teaching vocational skills. German innovation and technology contribute towards sustainable solutions in the United States. “Wunderbar together” was a unique opportunity to highlight the contribution of German business to the economy and society in the United States.
The central project of the business community was the Wunderbar together PopUp Tour. With more than 100 partners, the PopUp Tour toured from Chicago (Illinois), via Atlanta (Georgia), to St. Louis (Missouri), and finally Portland (Oregon). In workshops, conference formats, and science slams, representatives from politics, business, and culture discussed topics such as the future of work, digitalization, sustainability, and the future of mobility. With a total of more than 34,000 visitors, the PopUp Tour is one of the success stories of Wunderbar together.
Shaping the Image of Germany in the United States
The Year of German-American Friendship has succeeded in conveying a more contemporary and realistic picture of Germany and transatlantic cooperation in the United States. That the programme was a success was also shown by a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Körber Foundation. In September 2019, 75 percent of Americans viewed their relationship with Germany positively, five percent more than in 2018. Even Germans, who had rated relations with the United States somewhat poor in late 2018, have become more positive in their assessment. In September 2019, 34 percent of Germans saw the relations with the United States as positive again, ten percent more than in the previous year.