Toward the end of last year, a star reporter at the prestigious German magazine Der Spiegel was revealed to be a serial fabricator. Over a dozen of his articles turned out to have two things in common: numerous, often obvious, and easily disprovable fictions and an unflattering depiction of the U.S. To Bruce Bawer, the popularity of these articles, and the credulousness of readers and editors, are further evidence of the prevalence in Germany of a species of anti-Americanism—also borne out by polling data—that cannot be entirely separated from attitudes toward Jews:
For Germans, demonizing America is a handy way of dealing with—or, rather, not dealing with—their own history. In 2014, Eric T. Hansen, an American freelance writer based in Berlin, . . . observed that anti-Americanism is not only “socially acceptable in Germany,” but it’s “downright politically incorrect to miss an opportunity” to put America down. He offered a theory: while the loss of World War II had rendered anti-Semitism verboten, “the resulting vacuum was soon filled by anti-Americanism.” I’m not going to argue with that.
Alexander Grau, a German philosopher, [maintained] in a cogent 2014 article [that] while Germans may attribute their anti-American sentiments to their distaste for a given American leader or American policy, “German reservations about the U.S. are older and deeper. The new anti-Americanism is an old anti-Americanism,” founded in 19th-century hostility to mass society, mechanization, and a “ruthless capitalism” associated in the German mind with both America and—ahem—“international financial Jewry.”
How, in Grau’s view, does World War II play into this? West Germans knew America had saved them from Soviet conquest, and were (at first) thankful. But that gratitude eventually curdled into an “anti-American neurosis” that led them, in later years, to express “solidarity with the most obnoxious autocrats in the world,” from Saddam Hussein to Bashar al-Assad, simply because they were America’s enemies.