A comment by a German with extensive experience at the university level in the U.S.: “I think the real issue here is not how grades are officially classified but that there is a much stronger tendency of grade inflation in the US.
Almost everyone gets an A, whereas a B already feels like a failure even though it’s officially considered “good”.
Germans – at least at university level – are much more likely to give a student a C and think that she/he did a good job. When professors give a B they think the student’s paper is great. A basically means a professor could have written this.