If you ask any American who invented the telephone, you’ll get one of two answers: “I have no idea”, or “Alexander Graham Bell”.
In truth, both answers are incorrect. Bell did invent a telephone, but not the telephone. Fifteen years before Bell’s version proved to be a marketable success, a fellow named Johann Philipp Reis, invented the first operating telephone in Germany.
Ask an American who invented the car and many folks would say, “Somebody named Ford – I think his first name was Henry.”
That answer would also be very wrong. Henry Ford was a pioneer in the auto industry, but his claim to fame was making the assembly line process work.
The first cars were invented in Germany in 1885 by Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler.
The list of German inventions goes on and on. Starting in 1440, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the first movable type and revolutionized the printing industry, German ingenuity has been instrumental in the technological advancements of mankind.
The gramaphone, microphone, diesel engine, X-rays, glider, cathode-ray tube, aspirin, fluorescent lamp, decaffeination process, athletic shoe, pregnancy test, and electron microscope were all invented in Germany prior to 1931.
And then, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s took over. After that, there was tremendous research and development in aircraft and rocket science… all for evil purposes. And the German leadership dropped significantly.
A large part of that drop off was a result of Russia and the United States capturing the brightest minds and putting them to work on their own projects. Wernher von Braun was tremendously instrumental in the development of the U.S. space program which resulted in men walking on the moon.
Since World War II, the only significant inventions to come out of Germany are the Wankel rotary engines (used in Mazdas) and the MP3 technology.
There may be other inventions of note and I welcome the input of anyone more knowledgeable than myself.
My point is that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis harmed Germany in ways that go far beyond the Holocaust and other atrocities that brought shame to the German people. Hitler’s thirst for power set Germany back a hundred years… or more.
Today, Germany is one of the strongest nations in Europe. They are a leader in economics and a key political leader among the NATO countries. They could have been so much more.
My bride and I were extremely impressed by the people and places we visited during our recent trip. It is hard to imagine what German cities looked like after the war; most have been rebuilt to reflect their pre-war glory.
Recall that their nation was split in two following the war. But in the last decade of so, the Berlin Wall has been torn down and the two Germany nations are once again a single nation.
There is no doubt in my mind that, had Hitler never come into power, and the German people simply continued to advance through peaceful means, they would most likely be the most powerful nation on earth today.
By the way, here’s something I learned while playing a trivia contest on the Delta flight to Europe. The English language was adopted by our Founding Fathers as the “official” language of the United States… by one vote. Second place? German.
Many of the original settlers in our country were of German descent. They were instrumental in building our country. Surely they could have done the same back home.