How True Are the Stereotypes About Germans?


(Image via Wired)

Lina Braun, Writer

The Germans. Punctual, mean, direct, always serious, don’t know how to have fun and only care about sausage and beer. Are these just stereotypes or are they real characteristics? What is standing behind the country? Germans can look back on a long history that still has an influence on the present. A lot of festivals like Carnival, Mayfest, Octoberfest, and other beer festivals have the ability to characterize the people in Germany.

We all have stereotypes about strangers. Not all stereotypes are bad – they may even be true, defining characteristics of people and their lifestyle. Let’s examine some common stereotypes about Germans.

GERMANS are punctual.

Being on time is a Must in Germany. It is a sign of respect to be at the meeting earlier than on time that means if we are on time, we are already late. On the same line of thought, we expect that the transportation services be true to their schedule and not like the Deutsche Bahn (German rail service) who are often late.

GERMANS love beer.

Yes, we do. But we have the best beer in the world. Germany has over 1500 breweries and more than 5,000 brands of beer. The country even has a law called Deutsches Reinheitsgebot about what ingredients may be used in the production of beverage, since 1516.

GERMANS only wear Lederhosn, Dirndl and felt hats

If I would meet someone in Germany who wears these clothes in their everyday life, it would be strange. But if you go to the Octoberfest in Munich, you can see that most people wear Dirndl (traditional dress for women) or Lederhosn (traditional leather pants for men). In the beginning, the Dirndl was a work dress that was practical.

GERMANS are direct and unfriendly.

In general, Germans are direct because they tend to be very goal-oriented in their interactions. They want to get right to the point, and not beat around the bush. Germany also doesn’t have a lot of small talk as there is here in the US. This tendency can sometimes come off as downright rude, but the upside of this tendency is that there isn’t that much to decode. A yes is a yes and a no is a no. It’s not meant as an affront or insult.

GERMANS are boring.

The stereotype is that  Germans do not know how to have fun, which isn’t right. This cliché probably came from a misunderstanding of Germans’ seriousness. But Germans are definitely not boring, they are warmhearted, enthusiastic and happen to love fests.

GERMANS love rules, organizing, and structure.

Germany has a lot of laws for all aspects of life and its people like to obey them. On the other hand, it is the Germans’ ability to organize and create structure which has earned them their reputation for being efficient. This love of rules manifests itself in many ways. Plus, there is even a government called Ordnungsamt, which literally translates to “office of order”.

GERMANS love soccer.

Not all Germans are passionate about soccer, but most of them do love it. Watching or playing soccer together and cheering on the team brings people together. In the stadium or just watching soccer or taking part in the sport means other social rules are applied, and enthusiasm and/or disappointment can be shared with opposing teams or fans.

The common German stereotypes may actually ring true in some cases, but some are just a misunderstanding of other cultures. Germany is so much more than just the stereotypes.