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8 False German Stereotypes

8 False Stereotypes About Germans (www.therussianabroad.com)

Germany has recently been pronounced the world’s most popular country. Meanwhile, the Germans are one of those unlucky nations that are marked by the world’s stickiest stereotypes. Everyone has their own perception of Germany and its people even before they enter the country or have their first conversation with a real German. It’s a tough fate, really. I also had endless misconceptions about the Germans before I moved to Leipzig in September 2012. How surprised I was to find out that everything I thought about them was false! So, in order to save you from too much astonishment, I officially present to you the most common German stereotypes that are completely false according to my own experience.
Tubingen, Germany // 8 False German Stereotypes via www.therussianabroad.com

1. Germans have no sense of humour.
In general terms, Germans are lovely outgoing people who love to have fun. But, I hear you say, having fun and being fun are two different things. You are right, of course, but the thing about the German sense of humour is that it’s very peculiar. Back during my time in Leipzig, I found that Germans enjoy having a good laugh and appreciate a good joke unless it becomes too personal, extreme, or insulting. Germans hate insult jokes, and they don’t really get the purpose of sarcasm either. But the main reason why Germany is officially the world’s least funny country (says The Telegraph) is that Germans don’t know how to laugh at themselves. They take themselves extremely seriously and take jokes too much to heart. So don’t you ever, EVER, point out that there’s something funny or foolish about them unless you want them to dislike you.
 
2. Germans are very organised and super responsible.
Germans love making lines in the supermarket and they never cross the road at the red light. But it stops there. You would be surprised at how disorganised Germans can actually be! Sometimes their lack of self-discipline reaches shocking peaks, e.g. the phone company forgets to cancel a service after you’ve already cancelled the contract and still wants to keep charging you, or your professor at the university loses your bachelor thesis, or the debt collector suddenly wants to assign you false bills, or you get an official warning for downloading a movie you never even heard of… I didn’t just randomly come up with these examples – they all happened to me during my two years of living in Germany, the place of the world’s most organised chaos. So, if making generalizations, I really wouldn’t say that Germans are super organized – quite the opposite!

Augsburg, Germany // 8 German Stereotypes That Are Entirely Untrue via www.therussianabroad.com

3. Germans love cars more than anything.
Given that Germany makes the best car brands in the world (Volkswagen, BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes), this stereotype is somewhat acceptable. And indeed, the Germans do love their cars – but they love their bicycles more. If you get to visit Münster, for example, known to be the bicycle capital of Germany, you’ll see that Germans give preference to more eco-friendly means of transportation.
 
 
4. Germans are extremely punctual.
Totally disagree! I have, maybe, only one German friend who has never been late to anything. From my experience, Germans don’t take time schedules too seriously (especially Deutsche Bahn which is never on time).
 
5. Germans are rude.
This is, probably, the most common of all the German stereotypes. Usually everybody thinks that the Germans are tough-toned and strongly-worded. And indeed, they tend to be quite harsh in expressing their opinions, but it’s not because they’re genuinely rude people. It’s because the German language is extremely precise – in fact, a bit too precise to show too much tact. Germans know exactly how to word an idea without drawing a veil over it, because ambiguities in the German language simply do not exist. So Germans are not being rude, technically. They have just a precise manner of speaking.
Are Germans really bookworms as we know them? // 8 German Stereotypes That Are Entirely Untrue via www.therussianabroad.com

6. Germans are bookworms.
There’s no doubt that German people are quite well-read. But, unlike the common belief, Germany is far from being the most reading nation in the world. In fact, their reading rate is relatively low even in comparison to the world’s least prosperous countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines, or India! Video games, surprisingly enough, get way more love from the Germans than books do. Germany has the largest video game market in Europe and hosts the world’s leading gaming expo every year (Gamescom in Köln).
 
7. Germans are romantics.
Even though it was Germany that began the movement of romanticism in the late 18th century, the Germans themselves can hardly be labelled as hopeless romantics. The language they speak is definitely not Die Sprache der Liebe, the language of love, and this really shows in their down-to-earth behavior. The Germans are very open, straightforward, and honest, which is a good thing, of course, but there’s very little element of flirtation and seduction. The common joke is that, in Germany, a man can be passionately in love with you for years and you would not have any idea. I’d like to think that there were a lot of Germans in love with me while I was living in Leipzig, but they were just too German to show their feelings.
Monschau, Germany // www.therussianabroad.com
8. German language is ugly.
A harsh, overly complicated language with words that are kilometers long and can only be used for insults – that’s what people think of the German language. But the thing is, German is an acquired taste. Once you get the melody of it and learn how to follow its rhythm, the language starts to sound different in your ears. German is not ugly – it’s just horribly difficult. And those are two different things.
 
Over to you! Are there any other German stereotypes that aren’t true?

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  • Such an interesting post :) We never really know unless we go there ourselves, I guess it’s kind of like don’t judge a book by it’s cover, the cover being the image painted by whatever stereotypes. Beautiful photos by the way! x

    • It’s true what you’re saying! You only really get to know the people from the different once you’ve actually lived among them.
      Glad you enjoyed the post! :)

  • I visited Germany last summer and was absolutely charmed by Germans! Well, maybe 4 days do not give me the right to judge, but I found their sense of humor quite edgy And funny! There was a older waitress at one cafe who was totally cracking me up by her self irony.

    And rude was something way far from those Germans I met. Nice, extremely helpful and cordial – that’s the Germans in my experience.

    http://atstarfish.blogspot.com/2014/09/my-europe-trip-first-impressions-and.html#more

    • All my German friends (well, I have only one, really, haha, but still) are extremely cordial, as you said. But it’s maybe because they already know me!
      Generally, however, I noticed so many times that in banks/supermarkets/unies/agencies Germans can be soooo distant and cold that, yeah, it becomes a bit rude. At the same time, there are so many types of Germans depending on the region! They say Bavarians are hilarious, for example, they love to laugh! But Saxonians are way more serious.

  • I’ll admit it. I had my preconceived notion about the language. I’m a romance language kind of gal but your post has made me rethink that. A positive stereotype that I, personally, have about Germany is GREAT FOOD. And I’m not budging on that ;P

    • It’s goooood, isn’t it? It’s very similar to Czech food, too (which I LOVE)!

  • Interesting points. One thing I learned traveling in Europe (and never in Germany) is that stereotypes start somewhere but never end the same way. Life isn’t an old B&W movie and it’s the individuals that come in all colors. There seem to be national identities and then so much more.

    • This is so very true! High five to that :)

  • Hi, Olga! Just letting you know I nominated you for a Liebster award. If you’d like to accept and pass along the love, here’s all the information: http://thenestednomad.com/2015/03/28/liebster-award/

    It’s been fun to get to know you through your blog! I’m looking forward to much more from you!

    Also, I LOVED this post! I’m so eager to get over to Germany because 1) it looks beautiful, and 2) I’ve the people are so fun, kind, and hospitable.

    • Hi, Brittany! :)
      Oh, I’ve already been nominated once, and I kindly gracefully it already, haha, so I’ll have to pass this time!
      But thanks so much!!!

      Happy blogging! xxx

  • Hi . You explained subject very well. This is my opinion that all the people around the world are good and it s necessary to respect their character s and culture s. Geographical and environmental conditions make changes and creation of differences among humans Olga.

  • Atanas

    Just to add on. The German language cannot only be used for insults. It is also perfect for hardcore porn :))))))

    • okaaaaaay, if you say so!.. hahahaha

  • Really funny post, but I always think that stereotypes exist for something. For example about the lack of sense humour, a German airline used as their commercial slogan in their posters around Spain “We don’t joke, we are Germans”, so probably even they know that many of these stereotypes actually apply:)

  • Great post! I would love to visit Germany someday. Thanks for the helpful tips.

    http://www.mintnotion.com

  • LOVE this post! I really enjoy reading about stereotypes and the truth (or not) behind them! I love that you wrote they really aren’t that organized – because I always always thought they were!!

    • Judy

      Some of us make up for the less organised bunch though! haha
      It’s true, some are “more German” than others. But I’d prefer sometimes to be less annoyed by people arriving late and just chilling out a bit more.
      Well. I guess I’m too German. Or NOT German, after all ;) Depending on your perspective

  • You made me feel so bad while reading it as it is true, I have said many of the them and they aren’t absolutely true. But as most of the stereotypes, they are just a general most-likely ignorant statement for a large group, and that doesn’t often include the majority of people. Really cool post anyway! Have a lovely day,
    Vera

    The Flash Window | Bloglovin

  • Agree. Couldn’t agree more with #2!

  • I once read a quote that said something like, to travel is to learn that everything you thought you knew about a country is wrong and this is why I often have a lot of arguments with people about stereotypes. I hate stereotypes.

  • Stereotypes exist everywhere, but they greatly depend on locality. I haven’t been to Germany yet, and the only two stereotypes about Germans I know of are: punctuality and language weirdness. The latter one is more about “building” a new word by sticking together already existing ones. I haven’t heard about German rudeness, but I know some Spaniards who perceive the British as the rudest of them all. Just shows that nobody is perfect.

  • Ah, I love Germans and love Germany and am proud of my German ancestry. I have to say though that when I visited Hamburg to stay with some family the organised stereotype was something I saw and was amazed by! Things like changing the direction of the traffic after midday on a main road to ease the flow of traffic, just brilliant. That would never work in the UK!

  • You’ve done it again, Olga, opened my mind to the possibility and actually the absolute necessity of visiting a place I hadn’t previously considered. Germany looks beautiful, and you’ve done a nice job of breaking down the misconceptions…thank you!

    • I’m really happy that my blog helps you to discover new places! :)

  • hey Olga!
    I found you today after you had commented on a post of the young adventuress. I guess that mean i have just completed one of the blogging sinns. But how else are you suppose to meet other travel bloggers??? anyway the reason i dedided to click on you blog was probalby beacuse you had just recentally started simliar to me. :D

    I really enjoyed reading this post, well for one i am german and always struggle with the sterotypes, but i als grew up in canada so know the difference in the mentalities. I agree with most of these except for the one about puncutallity, i wouldnt say that german are extremly punctual but def. more than a lot of other nations out there they take time seriously. And throwing the Deutsche Bahn in this is not fair. I love the train and prob am the only that has never complained about it. But the train system in germany is huge, you can pretty much go to every little town. not a lot of countries have a system like this.

    The other point is german are organized, there are def. all the factors that you have mentioned, but sometimes i just feel like there is a lot of unessecary paperwork that needs to be making it all to complicated.

    happy travels.

    • Hi Inka!!
      It’s great that you found me, I’m happy to see you here on my blog! Welcome :)
      I think stereotypes are only as true as you’ve experienced them, so it all depends! I’ve met so many people who were saying that Germans are the most punctual people they’ve ever known – but it’s only because they knew those ‘particular punctual Germans’, you know what I mean? It all depends on the experience! And regarding Deutsche Bahn, youre absolutely right! Spain, for example, doesn’t even have a national train system whatsoever, if I’m not mistaken :D I’ve heard that people still go everywhere by bus, it’s ridiculous!

  • We are heading to Germany in a few weeks, so it’s good to know these things in case we offend anyone LOL. I think Germans have great sense of humours – they tend to be quirky and random which is hilarious!

  • Great post!
    You’re first point was very interesting. Coming from a country that highly values sarcasm, I always noticed that sarcasm was heavily lost in translation in Germany. Makes for some very confusing exchanges!

  • Oh, how I hate those stereotypes. I am half german myself, but have never lived in Germany. But I do love their humor and I love watching german tv shows.
    Some of the other points might be true for some Germans, but you’re right.. it’s not everyone who’s like that. One must remember that there are about 85 mio germans in Germany :-D

    • Germans are actually pretty cool people)
      I”m living in Berlin now, and I love hanging out with locals! They’re super friendly, funny, smart, and very helpful :)

  • Holger Siegmund

    Very interesting article altough I understand the half. If you would like to discover some funny and interesting Information about the Germans visit me on http://www.german-tutorial.com

  • John Jones

    Their language actually is very difficult and its a force for foreigners and non-foreigners to speak/read and write it all over Germany.

    • Yes indeed — it’s one of the hardest languages in the world! I think you need at least 4-5 years of actually speaking it every single day to become really fluent at it.

  • Robinanna neibauer

    Here’s another untrue stereotype. THEY’RE ALL NAZIS. It’s actually the opposite. They hate Nazis more than most nations do.

    • ugh, that’s a hard subject. It’s terribly stupid to say that all German are nazis, of course! But, uhm, there’s still a neo-nazi community in certain regions of Germany… But then again, there are neo-nazis in many other countries in the world. Nothing to do with Germany, really — lots to do with the fucked up generations, poor education, etc.

  • Julia Caesaris

    I’m German and I find that these sterotypes are accurate for 99% of the population. It’s hard to really understand a people without speaking the language fluently and actually living in the country for a few years. The English speaking multi-cultural people of Germany are obviously not the typical lot.

    • Julia Caesaris

      also, DB is ALWAYS on time…in my 25 yrs of traveling by train to various places with Deutsche Bahn, I’ve not seen otherwise.

      • no offence, but you’re probably either been exclusively lucky with your experience with DB or live in another universe :D

      • Kat

        Hah. My parents recently missed a cousin’s funeral for relying on the Deutsche Bundesbahn. It’s never on time.