Meryl Streep and the story of the lesser-known German-Americans

I am not much of a fan of “hyphenated Americans”: Indian-American, Japanese-American, African-American…. After all, America, barring the native Americans (thank god they are not hyphenated), is the land comprising and built by immigrants – those who came to its shores seeking liberty, fraternity and equality. To me, an American is an American.

But for the purpose of illustrating the relevance of the contributions made by the lesser-known German-Americans, who, apparently make up the largest ethnic group in the US, I am going to try and put forward a few thoughts from my own recent discovery of some of their contributions, in this blog post.

A wonderful article by The Economist talks about the various achievements by this minority community as well as what they introduced to America. According to the article. For instance, America got its taste for the humble beer, pretzels, even Christmas trees and Easter bunnies from the German immigrants who brought with them their hot dogs, bratwursts, sauerkraut even Dachshunds.

Apparently, the founder of the eponymous Levis Strauss – the original American jean, which to this day remains privately held, was Löb Strauß, a German Jew born in Bavaria in 1829. Kohler, another global sanitary ware company, which can’t hide its Germanic-sounding name, proudly talks about its heritage; a rare example of those who glorified their pre-war European roots. Same with Pfizer, Boeing, Steinway or Heinz. They all share a German heritage.

But what I think the Germans should be acknowledged for is how wonderfully they have assimilated in the American society that you would barely notice them. And this is where the versatile actress Meryl Streep’s ability to play the part of an Australian in the movie A Cry in the Dark, put on an English accent and play the part of Margaret Thatcher in the movie: The Iron Lady, be a Dane in Out of Africa, or for that matter, play the part of just about anyone, is attributed to her German (or European) ancestry.

America is a great country. I have always believed that immigrants are an extremely industrious bunch. I have seen this time after time again. In India, for instance, the Sindhis and the Parsis remain incredibly successful in their chosen foreign land. The Hong Kong Chinese or the Hakka community are seen as more hard working than the other communities. In fact, if you see any successful Chinese business in other countries, I’d be sure they are Hakka Chinese. America is a great example  where immigrants through their toil and hard work have made the country one of the greatest county on the planet.

But of all that America has given to the world, it has given us Meryl Streep and for that, I am eternally grateful and would like to call out the hyphenated German-Americans for their priceless contribution to mankind.

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