The Erasure of German Culture: An NPR Podcast

By Natasha Karunaratne

Despite the fact that German culture is valued today as one of the many fabrics of American society, there was a point in history in which German culture and even German-Americans themselves were demonized. During America’s involvement in World War I, anti-German sentiment ran wild as explored in this NPR podcast:

Read more about the anti-German sentiment of World War I here.

Reflection Questions:

  1. It is said that “World War I inspired an outbreak of nativism and xenophobia.” What does nativism and xenophobia mean and how did we see these sentiments spreading during World War I?
  2. The article states that “today, when the question of loyalty of immigrants has again become contentious, what happened a century ago has special relevance.” How are immigrants’ loyalties questioned today and which aspects of immigrants’ cultures are stigmatized? Is this stigmatization similar or different to that of German culture during World War I?
  3. During this time, President Roosevelt said “there is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is American and nothing else.” Do you or people you know identify with a hyphenated American identity today? What are the implications of this hyphenation today?
  4. The podcast discussed the changing of many street names from German influenced names to more Americanized names. What is the name of the street you live on or go to school on? Is there any significant history or culture tied to this name?