Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Seven Personality Traits of a German

Over the years, I've come to agree....there are are seven obvious and traditional personality traits of a typical German. I realize....that I will take heat for this. But in some ways, I consider these to be positive in certain ways. And no, not all Germans are this way....but these are the obvious ones that you will notice.

First, stubbornness. It was obvious from two world wars. It's obvious from the 1950s and the rebuilding of Germany. It's obvious from the economy stumbles....especially from the vision of Greece and its woes. A German simply holds to one ideal, and continues on. They don't change their opinion often....and when they do....it's a necessity that they approach in a mental sense and just do it.

Second, holding to traditions. If a German starts a tradition....they rarely fail to accomplish this. I would put Octoberfest as the prime example....but there are millions of these in German society. It could be the start of fall clean-up in your neighborhood and the accepted date for that. It could be the summerfest week that has gone on for sixty years in your local town. Unless a flood occurs, folks don't shift from the traditions.

Even on the personal level, there are things like a guy sticking to Opel cars for his entire life. Or the wife who demands a weekend getaway to Berlin the 2nd week of May of each year. Or the color scheme of a house that's been owned by some guy for forty-five years. It might even be the tradition of using only one car mechanic for your entire life, until he retires.

Third, thriftiness. Normally, I'd just call this cheapness....but I have to be fair here. You could walk up to most Germans and tell them they have $300 for an entire 10-day summer vacation....and somehow, they'd figure a way to enjoy their 10 days off....with such a modest amount of money.

When you look at German retirees....and what they often end up with at age 65.....and then somehow....they live off $1000 a month and you are kinda shocked how they do it.

Right now, there is this massive use of Hornbach (the German home improvement store). Instead of paying some guy to renovate your bathroom....a German will find the right Polish guy for a week....buy all the materials.....and then do the paint and tile himself.

Fourth, argumentative. This one.....some folks might argue about (get it?). Germans can find a thousand things to argue about. It could be one guy planting shrubs of a disliked nature that the neighbor can't stand. It could be the act of cranking your car for two minutes in winter to warm it up. One minute of such a cranking would be tolerated, but not two, and thus inviting an argument sooner or later.

Pointing out how you screwed up....would go hand-in-hand with this personality trait. They'd like to let you know something....and hopefully you agree....otherwise, it's an argument.

Fifth, a bit of humor that is different. The wild humor of Robin Williams doesn't work in Germany. Jerry Lewis humor doesn't really work. Seinfeld humor doesn't work. But you start to notice is a cynical sort of humor that most Germans tend to appreciate. It's the comparison of how bad the political system has become when compared to a drunk in a pub....which will make a German laugh his head off.

Germans love office humor if it's compared to their actual environment. They laugh over the stories at a butcher shop or government bureaucracy.....because they face this each and everyday.

Sixth, coldness. It could take a decade to really know your neighbor after you move in. In fact, you might never know your neighbor beyond a beer you share together once a month when mowing the grass.

You don't see cases where a German gal meets some guy and agrees to marriage within six months....that simply doesn't happen.

A German keeps this coldness.....as a defending tactic. It protects their inner circle and makes them feel secure.

Seventh and final.....creative. The little sensor that detects rainwater on the windshield of your car and automatically turns the wiper on? It's from a German. ABS? It's from a German. There are dozens of car devices which relate back to a German who just kept thinking about how things work.

It's the same with heating systems, pens, printers, tires, subway cars, and even zippers. They sit there and pause over the way things work.....and then announce this fantastic vision with just a simple toggle switch or a light sensor.

So I hope I didn't insult any Germans....but it's just a note of mine about their lives and impacts.

164 comments:

Anonymous said...

you are right on and I'm proud of all of them.

Becky Z said...

I got a real kick out of this post...my family has strong German roots, settling in Pennsylvania in the 1700s to farm. Our personalities fit this list perfectly, despite being removed from the country for centuries. We don't like change! hehe.

Anonymous said...

In mostly German but i also have dutch roots. I'm adopted, so i wasn't that sure about my ethnicity...i just relied on looks. this really helped me personality wise to discover that i am with out a doubt German

Stuttgartgirl said...

Great post! I found myself nodding my head. Regarding German humor, it's a tough one. Many times I find myself making a sarcastic comment, only to have it taken literally by a German, shaking his head at how stupid I must appear, but I'm learning.

Anonymous said...

I have an exchange student from Germany. These traits are right on... Bingo! This definitely fits her. Good to know...

t said...

I can't confirm or not confirm that you marked Germans correctly. However, your last point of instinctively thinking about how things work at length is true of me. It is one of the best topics to talk with my dad about. And, a German friend visited me in LA. We went to a bar with a lot of hot chicks. He didn't make a single remark about the hot chicks. However, he expounded at length in what ways the bar could be constructed better.

Anonymous said...

Happy Oktoberfest! Great Post of German Traits...each one fits spot-on for me, especially the stubbornness & the argumentative traits. Creativity and dark humor are also at the top of the list for this Meissner girl!

Matt said...

I so agree with all of these! I'm a bit more than half German and I have to say right now that I found myself nodding my head the whole time. I can't say there's a single one I don't have in myself. Ever since I was little I've always been stubborn, argumentative, and known to get on someone's case about anything I see wrong. I'm also known as the "perfectionist" haha. This was a great post and I can't disagree with any of 'em, so even if you didn't nail Germans head on, you've got me perfectly.

Lindsey said...

I actually just found out that I have German in my family tree. I was looking into the personality traits of the German culture to see if it really fit with me and my family.

Who would have thought my ability to not step out of my familiar "I have to get the same thing when I go to this restaurant, coffee shop, etc" really had to do with my stubbornness to keep traditions going. :)

These made me giggle.

Amber said...

This made me laugh

Amber said...

This made me laugh

manxman.abroad said...

Hey, you've saved my life! Really! I'm new to Germany and was taking everything so seriously. But today I discovered your blog and can begin to laugh at my response to the 7 (I'd like to add a few) personality traits. And they're ALL truly German. Thank you.

Pagesculptor said...

Yup. I am learning as I am trying to understand the odd behaviors of my German co-worker. Oddly, I'm Mexican but I tend to reflect these same traits at him whenever he's around. Not sure why, but it happens.

Pagesculptor said...

Yup. I am learning as I am trying to understand the odd behaviors of my German co-worker. Oddly, I'm Mexican but I tend to reflect these same traits at him whenever he's around. Not sure why, but it happens.

Eileen Kocherhans said...

Schnitzel Republic! What a great hedaing! Schatzkopf game, Anyone?

JACLYN said...

This is so interesting, I'm at least 1/4th German and see the traits in my family.

Marty said...

I have a Dutch family, a lot of these traits are true of us as well.

Anne German said...

Hello from Germany.
I discovered your blog.
I can confirm that you marked Germans correctly. Best, Anne

Wiebke Albers said...

Don't agree with point number 6.
My mum got engaged to my father after 5 months.
(They are still together, so much about the traditions...)

I don't really think its coldness. It is more like whenever a German accepts you as his or her friend, they are bound to give you whatever you ask for, not because you ask for it, but because you- as their friend- need it. It is a bit like being part of the family.
There is also a great difference between people in the north and in the south of the country, the north being more "open" to strangers, but never completely opening up to them, whereas the north is just as you described. It may take twenty years before someone calls you a friend, but when they do, you really are.

Michelle said...

Haha this is great...stumbled upon this post on accident. I am VERY predominantly German (Great Grandfather was a 'Zimmer') and everything from my physical features to the personality traits of this post describes me to a "T". The creative and thrifty part made me smile. In 2011 I launched a fashion apparel consignment store because of how "thrifty" I am. Soo weird, but a huge validation for my "weirdness" Thank you so much!

Tanja Olsson said...

Haha this really fits me, the fun thing is that I'm swedish but a german friend of mine says that I behave german :P

Anonymous said...

I'm German and I don't think you can generalize on Personality Characteristics.
Or should I say all white Americans from the South are uneducated racist rednecks?
And how about Americans in general are are arrogant ignorant noisy and shallow?
How do you like this judgement?

Anonymous said...

I very much enjoyed your article and think it accurately reflects reality. As to why this is, I have an idea you might find interesting. Germans do share a lot of genetics but they also share a specific national history. This is a powerful combination to inherit and I believe that history often trumps genetics. Many people who come to the US as immigrants find that within one or two generations, they not only live, eat, work, worship and think like all the Americans they know, but they even begin to physically resemble a kind of American norm - taller than average, higher than average weight, friendly at first meeting but generally guarded and diplomatic, interested maintly in the utility and practicality of new things, and not married to traditions - not of their own families nor anyone else's. Case in point is a full blooded Chinese man who is a bank president in San Francisco. This man is so tall and heavy and his face is so relaxed, you would be hard pressed to identify him as Chinese on the street. You would never know his national origin unless you saw his name in print - and without that his nationality would be a mystery to you, unless you asked him about his family. People with similar histories act similarly and hold many of the same beliefs about how to live their daily lives. Put this way, it's not too mysterious to imagine that many German people have the same personality traits. Similarly I think anyone who grew up in Ireland, regardless of his own nationality, would share many of the attributes of the Irish people. They're living in the same environment, with the same history so it stands to reason.
Kathie Godfrey

Anonymous said...

I too am of German extraction, (and English), and I think you are right on with the Germanic traits. I would add also that it seems to be a trait to be quite orderly and organized, even a little OCD, but perhpas that is just some. Also my family (Keller) are quite cordial, even jovial social settings, especially with plenty of beer, wine and schnapps!
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Agree with most observations as my mother-in-law and family are German and my wife is very similar. However, the "argumentative" type is different from being critical and an inability to offer praise, particularly of one's own family. I doubt this is a German trait in general but perhaps so? I think this is a very sad charateristic in any person / culture.

Another strong trait I suspect could be genralized is loyalty and trust but with a reciprocal demand of "doing one's fair share" (i.e., always keeping score.)

Like any personality / cultural traits....some good and some bad.

We all have something to offer.....very American I'd say.
;-)

Anonymous said...

I am German andI agreed with everything on here.

German said...

Coldness is a misunderstanding. It is a part of loyalty. Trust is given after a period of time and we stay loyal to the end. It is really the logical thing to not waste effort on relationships that are not based in truth.
Stubborn-yes/Cheap-really just being frugal and sensible.

vacations-My wife and I spent 10 days in Florida in the US and spent $200 and that included Disneyworld.

Anonymous said...

I come from a family that is 100% German on one side Native American on the other. My mother was the first in her family to marry outside her race. Her maiden name was Zinsmeister. I aggree with most of the traits you have listed, although my father had very similar traits as well.I think that these personality traits can be found in any culture that has struggled to survive, that have been told what they can and can't do by someone outside of thier communities.I hold to the traditions of both sides of my as much as possible and have taught my children to do the same. Because I truly believe you can't know who are, if you don't know where you came from.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is not only Germans, but also Austrians, Dutch, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, British and Americans who have had roots in these nations and or have been influenced for decades by their cultures developed in America.


I would also add one negative trait of Germanic nations. It is a vice of acting in a superior manner, subconsciously thinking that their ways, their behaviour, language, culture, knowledge are the best and all the nations towards East are less superior (because they only learn) or inferior (when they go their way) and thus (Germanic people think) we must educate and change them. That is why the U.S. wages so many wars, criticises everyone, that is why Americans cannot believe that people in Ukraine or Slovakia can have mobile phones. That is why they think that we (Slavs) all live in some semi-dictatorial, poor dens etc. etc. WW II taught Germans to hide and mitigate these vices. I think that the same must happen to Americans and British as well.
Simply, no one can be better than they are. And when someone is really better than they are, they never recognise it duly.
At present, Germanic nations have the political power and influence over the world and their culture is at first sight (spread by american films) very attractive. This makes it difficult to tell them that not everything is as they think it is.

Anonymous said...

Funny...I'm half german and experienced most of this first hands and did get cussed out by some german for leaving my car running for 2 min in the winter to defrost my windows!!!

fwbikecommuter said...

Thank you so much for writing this down. Out of the blue I realized that I need to understand my 7/8ths German personality. Extremely enlightening and right on!

Anonymous said...

All that,and most remain very likeable.Pretty impressive.

Anonymous said...

After hosting an exchange student and hosting the parents for 2 weeks you have forget the 8th trait of most Germans... They are RUDE!!! I also noticed this from my visits to Germany. From paying for their meals to them being in control on my home the are rude and controlling...

Anonymous said...

The accuracy of this is frightening lol describes this Pennsylvania boy perfectly. My father X10!!

Mumm said...

This totally describes myself, my family, and my German friends! I consider them all fantastic traits, but they do hinder me at times. "Typical Americans" just do not get what logic, etc bring. I am proud of my German lineage and the traits that accompany it. Great posting and ever so accurate.

Anonymous said...

I fit every one of these traits. I have zero German blood.

I think the author is trying to pigeon hole the German

race for his/her own biased reasons.

Suffice it to say the world is a better place because of

the German people.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Totally true! I'm 23 and yep... I have every single one of those that you listed! Sometimes I find people baffled by my personality, but it is just the German in me coming out! :)

Miriam Morales said...

Germans are also very proud of their ethnicity, their language and their homeland. They dont allow foreigner to get away with breaking the law as they will step in and complain about it, report you to the Polizei , etc. They are very strict in environmental conservation as well. Most of all Germans knows to speak English but sometimes they refuse to speak it. Unless of course you speak Deutsch to them first and then excuse yourself for not understand Deutsch completely.

Mumm said...

After Miriam's post, I feel even more rooted in the German psyche. I cannot abide people not doing as they should and I have great respect and interest for the nature that surrounds me. Any time I have encountered a person of German origin, I instinctually greet them in German, and beg their pardon that I don't speak the language well and ask if we can converse in English - or a mix. (People in Quebec, Canada are much the same - if they feel like it, you get French!)

Anonymous said...

My family heritage is in large part German, so I've been told. These characteristics sooo describe my family that we certainly must be of German ancestry! I love it! Have traveled in Germany several times and always came home having developed a new German friend.

Anonymous said...

Hi ! I absolutely agree with all the points you mentioned although I would like to add that Germans are really, really strict about time. I was dating a German guy who once refused to eat at a restaurant as he didn't get his order in the stipulated 7 minutes! To an Indian like me, it was really odd to watch even though I was used to his typical German traits!

Peter Handeland said...

Peter said, Hi. Guten Tag.I am a native German and very proud of it. I felt this pride because my grandparents instilled it into me. So, yes, family is very important doing that. I've noticed that there is a type of coldness about me. Not being mean but far from it. It is genetics and is a result when we were the old warriors. I am so proud of my culture and though I live in New Mexico (I have been in America since I was seventeen) I am fluent in German. I teach it. Language is so important and because of it I will never loose my Germanness. I work with the Navajo Indians and so many of the young ones are loosing their language and culture which causes chaos. I have been with the Navajos for a long time. It is good for Germany and my own sense of pride. Peter Handeland, University of New Mexico, Gallup, New Mexico. Auf Wiedersehn.


















Anonymous said...

Oh my God! So true! My father was German and my mother was from Central America. I was raised in the US. The way you described germans hit it right on the nail, except for being cheap. He loved giving gifts and loved having a good time, so I could never say he was cheap. He also was very frank and he'd say what was his opnion of you, if you liked it or not. His humor was one, that unless you were german, you'ld not understand or think he was rude. But in reality he was a great guy. He died 8 years ago and had just turned 80. I would spend hours listening to him, about how he grew up in Germany and how things were. I miss him dearly!

Mumm said...

Isn't it great to have been able to hear the stories about life in Germany? Myself, and my German family and friends, are terribly cheap BUT love giving gifts... and not just on special holidays or events. It is all about the thought, and I never think of the cost when I deem it worthwhile. We also love to enjoy ourselves and I know I spend good money on what I enjoy. I may not buy a bottle of water when I am running errands, but I will drop $10 on a mixed drink when out with friends, to be sure! LOL!

anke said...

wow, you are very right! *proud*

proud_of_my_heritage said...

So true, great post!! Life is what it is. I'm guilty of every trait listed here and more, not that I like to admit it sometimes but we are who we are. My family roots are mostly German with some Swedish and Norwegion. I also grew up in the upper midwest.
Hope nobody is offended by the list because these are in my opinion the traits of some of the greatest minds. They never stop thinking and are always improving their current understanding of everything.

Anonymous said...

My grandparents and their children (one of whom is my father) immigrated from Germany to the US in the late 40's. Knowing my father, 2 aunts, and 4 uncles I feel I have a decent vantage point for comparing the article's personality traits with individuals of 100% German ancestry. My father, aunts and uncles were also all subject to the culture of the US as they grew up, but the majority of the individuals have all the listed traits. The degree of the traits does vary. It is hilarious to hear them refer to one particular uncle as being "tight fisted" with his money when all of the family members would be considered quite financially frugal by normal US standards. The males in the family are quite cold by nature, but the two sisters are not when compared to the males. All have had a strong work ethic (aged & retired now), all are deeply rooted in tradition. Although not mentioned in the article, part of this tradition includes religion in this family.
As a child I grew up listening to frequent... "lively" arguments in the German language that could (and often did) go on for hours.
I could elaborate on the degree to which each of these traits are expressed in these individuals, but it would require too much time and space. Suffice to say that I considered each trait carefully and related it to specific behaviors that the individuals have exhibited over the almost fifty years I have known them.
I found the traits listed by the author are very accurate in my German family members.
I love my family very much and do not consider these attributes to be negative, just true. I could not ask for a more loyal family and although my uncles may not be demonstrative with affection, Mister, you don't want me to have to ask for back up. I think they are bears in people suits.
I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments. Have a beautiful and blessed day!

tiffy122881 said...

I have my German heritage traced back to the 1600's and i am a lot of those things. It really explains a lot of why i am the way i am. Great post, good read. I'm also half Irish so we always joke that we are a drinking problem waiting to happen lol. Never mind i do drink a lot!

Rudi Fischer said...

Where do I start? Germans living in Germany probably do not agree with your assessment. Those of us who escaped the Vaterland and saw how the rest of the world operates agrees with you. My German humor was not appreciated much when I grew up in Germany but when I went into the rest of the world it was not only accepted but sometimes I do get some laughs. The exception to that rule is the Orient. Asians have no sense of humor and it almost got me killed. As to your seven Personality Traits you were right on. Loved the post.

Anonymous said...

I just read this even so it is 3 years later. I am half German (mother immigrated to US after the war) and I can now understand some of my traits. You hist 6 out of 7 with me. I do enjoy meeting my neighbors...

Anonymous said...

I went to this site because I have a German Exchange student and I am trying to understand her thinking better, this is her to a tee. It is kinda sad because she does not seem all that happy inside really,. She always wants to argue, she is always right (so she thinks) she is a teenager whom thinks she is grown. She says one thing and does total opposite. This site helps me understand her a bit better I guess.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the very definition if racism to attribute qualities/defects to certain groups.

Racism:
"the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races". Germans are cool, but you can't classify them all...

R Hammond said...

On the thought of racism comments, then any comment...about German, American, British, Chinese, or even Texans...would be racist in nature, and thus forbidden to render in any public setting?

When you pick up this philosophy and start swinging it around, you tend to limit just about anything you could say...other than 'nice weather' or 'flowers in full bloom'.

Go back to the professor who dumped this intellectual argument onto you about racism, and ask for your money back. A higher train of thought wasn't achieved on that investment of capital. Societies, cultures, and countries are different, and if they weren't, then we'd all be dressed in gray, singing glory songs, and sipping ginger tea. Each brings something different into the world. Some positive, some negative and some...just plain silly.

Anonymous said...

Heaven is where police are British, cooks French, mechanics German, lovers Italian and all organized by Swiss.
Hell is where cooks are British, mechanics French, lovers Swiss, police German and all organized by Italians.

I am a German with DARK BROWN EYES AND HAIR and a dry sense of humor...stereotypical?
I know numerous Americans who permanently reside in Germany and returning after a U.S. visit, remark about American peculiarities...
My take...sometimes Germans are correct...sometimes Americans are correct.
I have used this knowledge to my advantage...

Anonymous said...

Wow.. Now I understand my German husband and in laws... This from a open, affectionate, spends money , high maintenance woman who loves Robin Williams and knows no strangers.....

Anonymous said...

Seinfeld humor doesn't work in Germany?
I'm german and it's one of my favorite tv-shows, but then again I don't know anyone else who's watching it.
But I guess you're right, I love cabaret.

Lisa Stamey said...

My great grandmother immigrated to the US when she was a child so my mom's side of the family is very German (looks and personality). This list is crazy accurate.

Lisa Stamey said...

My great grandmother immigrated to the US when she was a child so my mom's side of the family is very German (looks and personality). This list is crazy accurate.

Evelyn said...

Some of the comments made me giggle. Germans are very loyal. They love order do a degree of being obsessive about it. Punctuality is a must. Not so sure about the humour, but most of the US stand-up comedian I just do not get, but I love English humour. I have no problems being friendly with people, but yes... making a good friend takes time, but they are friends for life and considered part of the family.

Anonymous said...

Ja, I'm proud of being German all right.

Rosette Antopina said...

Bang! All of these are what I encountered when I met my German boyfriend via Skype. Its really hard to make joke with him. How can I help it? Being a fun loving person and from a country that loves to smile. Joking/humor is in my everyday life.
I'm still learning and knowing him more :)
I'm positive we will acquire from each other good characteristics we can apply to make the relationship work :)) I hope. Hehhe
And I hope he smiles often hehe :))and stop being cold and open up to me.

Anonymous said...

U are totally right my family is part german and russian, spanierd, french, canadian, and others too.

Anonymous said...

My parents are German and that describes them perfectly! Except my mom who is very friendly with anyone and my dad likes to critize everyone lol

Anonymous said...

Im half German-Dutch and this goes soooo well with me and my German side of the family except they are very more Sociable than me.

Anonymous said...

Lol typical German response

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the supposed German penchant for oscillating compulsively between extremes. I've certainly had that personality trait, and a grandfather was born in Germany. I know quite a few people of German origin or descent who have it. I wonder if it's a coincidence. After the War it was attributed to Germany's being precariously sandwiched between the civilized and intimidating West and the uncivilized and threatening East. Has German childrearing been a product of that chronic insecurity? Is it still?

Anonymous said...

Ja, du kann Dutche sprechen?

Anonymous said...

Now I know why, until now of being 1 year in a relationship... he never asked me for marriage. :)

Anonymous said...

This is me. Great article and right on target

Anonymous said...

Lol

Anonymous said...

One trait that I find true in all my German friends is Schadenfreude. I don't find it attractive but Germans seem to get great pleasure out of others misfortunes. Even so far as laughing very loudly as a friend stubs their toe or bumps their head. It seems the more you are hurt, the funnier this is for them.

Anonymous said...

Also, Germans are missing the"gratitude gene". They do not like to show gratitude or feel indebted to any one.
They will explain away something you've done for them as how it was somehow for your benefit, and they would have done it better if they'd have done it themselves.

Anonymous said...

I have deep German roots in my family tree. There is a majority of these traits that describe me.

Anonymous said...

I am Asian, but i have those traits. Maybe i was German in my past life :-D

Anonymous said...

Ah. The German woman. I met a German woman in a recent trip and we just hit it off. After the trip we go back home my to USA and she to Germany and continue to exchange emails...and then all of a sudden after 2 months of great conversations, I think her defense mechanics came into play. I felt the cold immediately. Exactly like you mentioned. Pooof...out of nowhere I was shut down. It's just been a couple of weeks so trying to figure out how best to tackle this. She definitely likes me. She said so many times. But now this. Strange....

Anonymous said...

My husband is german and I my grandmother was german. I find it very sad when a nation is so self opinionated has no sense of humility and unforgiving.
a comment I heard recently from a german I know well is: the world is still scared of us, how shocking to be so full of yourselves...

Anonymous said...

Shut down? Yes, so German to shut down, isolate, ostracize family members; it is not true Germans are loyal to family or otherwise. Step out of line and a German will come and take you away (my apologies to Stephen Stills). My German family's history so painful, but they will not deal with the family secrets that decimated our family.

The generation after the war those children have a higher suicide rate (3 in my family), among other things their sense of guilt about the war (see the newer documentary on "Hitler's Children" by Chanock Zeey, such children as Goering's grandniece and other relatives of Himmler, Rudolph Hoess, Hans Frank and others). It's like the children of post war Germany had to pay for the sins of their parents (and grandparents and great-grandparents etc). Acht du Lieber!

Why did Germany erupt like it did in the 1930s? See "The White Ribbon" for some answers. Or read Lloyd deMause's research.

Und yes I have some of those traits mentioned. Been working on bringing more of my Irish traits to the forefront. I haven't been to Ireland yet (lived 5 1/2 years in Germany as a kid, raised by a German mother), but met some Irish folks in Spain walking the Camino this Fall; and hey my Irish humor was pouring out. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes I would agree. My Man was talking about marriage within 5 months and we were engaged within less than a year. Germans are very much about tradition though. :)

Courtney Ellis said...

I am about 3/4 German and these do describe me but I feel that perhaps coldness is not the best term...

Stir Fry said...

You forgot "cleanliness" and "order", so I'm right in line with point #4. "Just had to let you know...and hopefully you agree..." LOL! Thanks for a great article.

anonymous said...

You are obviously not german.

anonymous said...

Not going to happen. A zebra can't change its stripes. Look elsewhere.

anonymous said...

Persevere. She likes you and is testing your loyalty.

anonymous said...

Propaganda by the allies became your history.

Unknown said...

America is a melting pot. There are too many cultures in the US to make the same comparisons.

Bia and Maria said...

Passt schon

Anna Thomas said...

That's me every single one of them...proud of it.

Anna Thomas said...

That's me every single one of them...proud of it.

Mac Believe said...

The seventh is my reprieve. I am for that reason alone, grateful to be German.

Unknown said...

You are Spot On! My bfriend is a Schafer. Just drives me Crazy but I love him so darn much.

Blondie Bombie said...

Don't listen to anonymous zebra! You've got to become the diametric opposite of his stubbornness. Just remember the Most important ingredient: Patients.
The more you love his weird querks, the easier. If you don't have a naturally PERSISTENT personality to wax & wan, it's going to be tough.

Unknown said...

LOL I have German ancestry and I'm every single one of them..

Theodore Eeperson said...

Passt..schon..danka.

u2kimbow said...

Forgotten: Efficiency. Utilitarianism.

Anne Cornish said...

Very funny generalisation but I must admit lots of the attributes are true - very organised, tidy, argumentative or just questioning things, sticking to traditions, etc. However, the Germans who travelled a bit and live or lived abroad can see it in different ways (good and bad). I could list so many attributes of Americans or British which would make you laugh. I am a proud German with friends from many different nations and found good and bad attributes in any of these, some similar and some are completely opposite. That's what makes a nation and their personalities interesting! Thanks for making me laugh out loud :).

Joseph Thompson said...

You did not insult me one bit. Actually you nailed about 90% of my personality.

I have Italian landlords, and one is a nosey old Strega (and yes, her husband even admits it)
I don't socialize with her and both my soon to be husband and the landlady's husband explained "It's
a german thing, and not to be insulted or offended" But she kept going at me and going at me until I
cussed her out in German and she fled like a vampire before garlic, and she was furious. Since then
she continues to be a pain in the ass and starts trouble over little things just to try to drive me crazy.
Then I played a song by Die Arzte called "Lasse Reden" And she stopped her game and backed off
and got the point.

sofycolli said...

All of these characteristics describe me so well, and I'm not even German. I'm Italian and Swiss... I'm really starting to ask myself if there is anything wrong with me

Unknown said...

Having grown up in German culture, I found them cynical, narcissistic. I disowned their culture and that ancestry and never regretted it. It is easy to see how they started two world wars in 30 years. A high thinking people they are not.

karmaz revenge said...

We are happy not to have you as part of our culture.

WiseOwl said...

Karmaz revenge it tells me a lot about your personality to leave a comment like that. You're obviously narrow minded and nationalistic. Get a life and don't presume EVERYONE is the same!

Nikki said...

Both my parents are from germany,and im EVERY one of those of those except thriftiness and golding onto tradition..., My mom is every single one of those down to a tee..

Dia _P. said...

I'm from Greece and i currently learn german. I think that germans are too self-protective and are afraid of getting hurt. ALSO, although I highly appreciate german culture and german achievements, I can't ignore the fact that they are being so unfriendly & strict to us, and as a result, a Greek family with 3 children ends up "living" with 700€ a month and a pensioner with 400€. Germans are organised and efficient, and when another country is not they sentence her to eternal debt, because of this characteristic of them.

Dia _P. said...

I don't doubt that german children paid for the sins of their parents, but at least their parents commited sins. Other countries paid for these sins when they hadn't done anything and they were just innocent people, like my grandparents. Yes, german people suffered during that period, they weren't able to state their opinion freely, they were forced to burn their books, but people from other countries, like mine (Greece), were killed. Violently. Germans used to go at villages, put all the people in a church and burn the whole church with the people. They were so cruel. And these people had nothing to do with germans. But I believe that past is in the past as long as it doesn't happen again. Germany is still unfriendly towards us and Greek people commit suicide because they lose their jobs and are unable to buy some milk for their children. And that's because of their strictiness.

Dia _P. said...

I'm from Greece and i currently learn german. I think that germans are too self-protective and are afraid of getting hurt. ALSO, although I highly appreciate german culture and german achievements, I can't ignore the fact that they are being so unfriendly & strict to us, and as a result, a Greek family with 3 children ends up "living" with 700€ a month and a pensioner with 400€. Germans are organised and efficient, and when another country is not they sentence her to eternal debt, because of this characteristic of them.

Eric Brown said...

I agree, I have many of these traits. These traits can either be used for your advantage or go against you. It's good to be around other groups like Irish etc sometimes to break the way of things being done just one way. Germans can be quite uptight and quiet unless someone starts talking loud and then the others loosen up. Germans are very self disciplined and hard on them selfs at times. Even if their doing great they may not realize it until months to years later when they look at a picture. They do not brag and boast as much and their silence and want for little reward and affect their confidence around louder people. And they need their 7-8 hours of sleep. They have the true qualities and directness to take society up to a higher level. The Germans are like the dogs that don't bark. They may appear to me timid and avoid eye contact sometimes which can easily be mistaken. But if they are actually ticked off which can take a while, they are ferocious.

Unknown said...

Ja, ich bin ein deutsches mädchen and proud ❤🇩🇪

Andreas said...

I got that exact same feature, some German blood in my ancestry

Tamarah Pellissey said...

My father came from Germany after ww2, he is a quiet man and tough as nails and very very hard worker. These traits are correct and lately I've been noticing them in me. I was taught by my father to work and be steady at it. It has made me a very successful businessman. But I am told I am hard to work for cause I am very picky and stern. If I see something I don't like, you'll be the 1st to know. But I can work for weeks at long hours and not complain. When I got my 1st job, he made sure he chased me outta bed to go to work. He worked in a goldmine for over 30yrs and never missed a shift. They called him steady Eddy, his name is Ewald Sonnenberg. I am proud and grateful for my father. He raised me good and was good to me and my mother. He's still alive, he just turned 92 and living in Yellowknife NT Canada. Thank you dad❤

German Victim said...

My mother was 50% German and my Dad had a portion as is evident by his surname. And sad to say, but I was tremendously relieved when she finally died when I was 38 years old. The CONTROLLING was unbearable (whether I lived at home or not) and FEAR of change was beyond ridiculous. My Dad and I couldn't have a VCR (too complicated) nor microwave and even cable television as that meant CHANGE. The only trait that differs from this author was thrifty. She couldn't spend Dad's salary fast enough on totally unnecessary products. When she died my parents had 2 expensive Audi's but only $300 in the bank. It was live for today and no foresight about her husband's future nor I who is single child, never married, and disabled -- most of my disabilities were generated by years of endless criticism and debasing resulting in the most severe OCD at age 24. I often had wished that she had died in an auto accident when I was a child as my God mother would definitely have raised me properly. I hate German people.

Lonely said...

Do not expect a German to ever say he is sorry or apologize for anything. They are cold and distant. Men do not have any friends and complain about everyone. They are judgemental. Germans are not sensitive. Everything they do, they do it out of duty only

Anonymous said...

This describes my husband, and also my mother and her side of the family to a T! Furthermore - I would add that when German relatives get together, they all seem to like to talk at once and will talk right over you if you are not assertive in the conversation. And they all talk loudly!
My mother cleaned like a typical German hausfrau. Everything had to be done the "right" way and be done perfectly. If you missed even a tiny spot, she would point it out. She could be quite demanding and critical about many things, and short on praise. My husband is much the same way. In fact, I think I married my mother, LOL!
However - they definitely have their good points. They work very hard - too hard in my opinion. I have to tell both my husband and my mother to take it easy. They are smart and have many skills. And of course, my husband is a talented engineer! But they are stubborn and the only right way, it seems, is their way.

Lonely said...

German temper can flare quickly. Germans throw things when frustrated and things are not going their way. Germans lack sensitivity. They are judgemental. Germans are incapable of understanding the feelings of others.

Lonely said...

Germans thrive on making every issue into a world war. My husband will go on for days if he gets the paper late. He calls the entire newspaper staff and repetively bombards them with his tale of woe. He is unable to let go of anything.

Anonymous said...

Best not to get close to a German. You will get hurt. When I was a little girl, my friends father was a fireman. His name was Hans, and he was German. He would take his thick fireman's belt off and slap his children across the face for spilling milk. My grandfather sat in a dark room in a big chair. He never turned to look at you.

Anonymous said...

Make sure you have many friends. You can never get close to a German. They can be nice one day, and be nasty the next. They are bi-polar. They are driven by duty and rules. They never apologize and rarely say thank you.

Anonymous said...

Keep Germans at arms length. The only good point of a German is that they are on time.
Never expect them to be compassionate. They judge everyone. Nothing ever applies to them

Lonely said...

Right on! Germans can ruin your day without a warning. They are good at the cold shoulder treatment. They have a flare up personality. Always be on guard.

Tristan said...

I am an American and moved to Germany 7 months ago. Yes, Germans are very cold people. They are not warm and affectionate. They are just not brought up that way. They are very stubborn also. Oh, and here is a new one... they are "besserwisserisch" which means "they always know better". When you are having a conversation with a German, they will react this way 90% of the time. Seems hard to believe? Try it! They do not CONSIDER your opinion. They listen to your words and then respond, instead of CONSIDERING your opinion. That is a very specific difference! But please do not try to tell a German these things because they WILL NOT get it!!! They will just argue that you are wrong and then they will explain to you why you are wrong. Plus... if you are American... then according to most Germans... you are undereducated and naive and a little bit stupid, but you mean well... so you are ok. I would like to point out that NOT ALL Germans are like this, but unfortunately it is a generalization that fits most of the time. You just have to find your people and like anywhere, if you run into toxic people, push them out of your life as quickly as possible because they WILL try to bring you down so they feel better about themselves!!!! This goes for ANY COUNTRY!!! Germans are great thinkers, great inventors, mostly logical people and most of the time they are very helpful if you communicate with them clearly, but you have to assert yourself in Germany... if you don´t... you will be seen as WEAK! So beware... if this is not your nature... you will NOT fit in in Germany. Find a more gentle country... like the Philippines, for example, very friendly and soft-natured people. Also many other countries... but not Germany... but... look at the German economy... extremely stable!! Well-paid jobs, respect for the trades as opposed to almost none in the U.S. Great education for free(social system)... extremely low unemployment... the system in Germany works people! You just have to deal with the cold social atmosphere. Just find your people... like anywhere. Cheers and good luck to everyone.

Anonymous said...

I guess it depends on the amount of time you spend with a cold self righteous German. They like to waited on, then push you away. They are judgemental and seek to find fault with everyone. They do not adapt to change. You can feel the uncomfortable vibes just standing next to a German. A German should always marry a German.

Lonely said...

Germans act nicer when they need you. After they have used you for something, they toss you aside.everything they do is out of duty. Germans are unable to make friends. Germans are moody and sullen.usually long faced. Smiles are limited.

Anonymous said...

My estranged wife. Basically ex wife. All of that with American twist. Good with her money, not mine, I Googled why are Germans so stubborn. This blog came up. Pretty much nailed the behavior traits. I only know American Germans with German Ancestry. Still pretty accurate. I have Irish Ancestry. We were happily married, but the arguments over bullshit, and the her way always. I started acting like Irish people do when you shit on them repeatedly. Like an asshole. Giving her all the power, and unfortunately well everything. Which is a German trait to. Nothing is ever good enough unless they do it.

Anonymous said...

Germans jump at the chance to have an argument. Nothing ever applies to them, but they are critical of people who do the same thing they do. They do not listen to advice.Germans only do what they want to do. Germans are usually depressed.

Anonymous said...

Actually, with so many people agreeing about these traits of Germans, it does show a general concensus. I agree it is very sad and somewhat negative, but I also believe Germans are not this way on purpose and I would even go a step further to add that Germans are, for the most part, grossly unaware that their social behaviors come off as very negative to non-Germans. We must remember to approach each human being as an individual and without bias. Only then can we develop true compassion and increase our humanity. With that said, we must ask ourselves, why most people here agree that Germans are rude, selfish, negative. What is it that people are experiencing? Also, if we dig even deeper, could it be the result of their system? Their culture? Their language? Their history? The weather? A combination of these? Perhaps if we got to the root of the problem, we could start to break it down and repair it. I would like to think that if we do not destroy the earth soon, we might advance ourselves psychologically/mentally and be able to find the source of these issues.

sherry said...

I agree! All the things you wrote are so true about me except the friendly part. I have never met a stranger, but I have met some strange ones.

LocoMan said...

I moved to Germany from a Mediterranean country and can only say... you nailed it, as some of the comments (especialy "Lonely"'s)!

I frequently talk to friends from abroad living here and we have all observed (and laughed about) the very issues you mentioned. They are also very well captured in the book "The Xenophobe's guide to the Germans".

After some years here, my hypothesis is that the state, peer-pressure, and rule-oriented society are so powerful that they have smashed the individual personality of Germans. They have made rules and categories for everything, and they need to make their worldview consistent, therefore "learn it". That's why they live on stereotypes and rules and they believe them. It doesn't matter if they are true or not. They need to know IN ADVANCE how to respond. It makes easy to navigate life: just follow the rules. If X, then Y.

Take the example of cuisine: Cook or offer them something and you see Germans won't rely on their own senses. They'll first look around and be extremely influenced by where they are having the food. They'll then ask: "Where does this ingredient come from? Is it Bio?" They will answer accordingly to what's expected from them or the easiest stereotype possible - the actual taste doesn't matter.

Are they Spanish strawberries? Then, for sure they are tasteless and might even be toxic, because you know, the Spaniards grow everything in plastic Greenhouses, plastic!! Are they German and organic? Then, for sure they are great. It doesn't matter if it's the first time this person has grown strawberries in their back yard and they taste terrible.

If you want to make fun of a German, just ask them for a personal "experience" without telling them anything in advance. Offer them an ingredient, a fruit, or a wine and don't disclose any information about it. They simply freeze, because they are not used to it, or they start sweating trying not to make fools of themselves.

Just imagine if they said that a Hungarian potatoe tastes better than a German one by accident! Or that they like more a cheap wine from Chile than an expensive one from Germany! That's why they need to know first and why they are so easily fooled as tourists.

It's not that Germans are not human, or stupid, or anything, it's just that in their society it's penalized to behave as a human being. Humans make mistakes, get trapped in emotions, do irrational or unexplainable things, sometimes humans even have fun just for the sake of it, and are unpredictable, can you imagine??

They have been told that supressing humanity and acting as a citizen and hard working employee "by the rule" is THE way to be, and the "success" of their country proves it beyond any doubt.

Follow the rules and you'll be fine. And also absolutely interchangeable for your company or society, which is what matters.

Obviously, people from other cultures, for example Mediterranean countries, for whom this is absolute nonsense if not cruelty, have a particularly rough time in Germany.

Cheers!

LocoMan said...

I forgot to add that the whole "rule acting" and "avoid making mistakes" thing is very nicely captured in the song "Keine Machine" from Tim Bendzko.

"Ich bin doch keine Maschine!
Ich bin ein Mensch aus Fleisch und Blut
Und ich will leben, bis zum letzten Atemzug
Ich bin ein Mensch mit all meinen Fehlern
Meiner Wut und der Euphorie
Bin keine Maschine, ich leb' von Luft und Fantasie"

Cheers!

Lonely said...

I feel sorry for Germans. They are captives locked in a shell of ice. I wonder if there is any possibility for change of heart. The most difficult part of being with a German is their abrupt reaction to meaningless events. This Jekyl and Hyde personality can occur any moment. They lack sensitivity. Germans are void of friends, and do not know what friendship is.

Anonymous said...

Blaming culture and the past for German behavior does not work. This is no excuse for their abrasive behavior. If they can not cope in society, perhaps they should limit interaction with others

Tristan said...

It is really sad that there is THIS MUCH of a consensus about Germans and their social behaviour. I really think they should focus on softening up a bit and relaxing. They are not enjoying their lives. They are just robots... and the worst part about that is that they do not realize it. Very sad. Such an angry people... and that even makes it worse for the nice ones... and there are nice ones... just not very many...

Anonymous said...

It would be easier to get close to a German if they would be grateful, show remorse, apologise, say I am sorry. They do not realize the effect their words and actions have on those around them. They say " that's how I am" They are so superficial. Germans are unable to see the hurt they cause.

LocoMan said...

Haha, great to see we all share very similar experiences. I can confirm all comments from above.

1. "They are Jekyl and Hyde and switch personalities unexpectedly and often". You can even see it physicially in their faces - how the default (fake) smile turns into aggressive mode in the blink of an eye. This happens usually in this situation: you play the "Emperor's clothes" game. Tell them something that's undeniably true and obvious but they simply cannot assimilate because it destroys their self image/image of Germany/belief system and shows their double standard. For example: "Hi, boss, every day you preach about saving the environment and encourage us to use public transportation. Then, why do you own 3 cars and come to work in a 300CV Mercedes SUV?".

2. "They are not enjoying their lives". Oh, boy, that's because you don't understand "joy". Enjoying can also "be measured", therefore it is also a competition. If you haven't visited 30 countries by age 25, learned 5 languages, sung in a choir, tried every sport, activity, restaurant, and event possible - and posted everything on Facebook - you're a loser. For example, meeting 10 unknown people is always more enjoyable than meeting a friend often, because, you know, 10 > 1. Also, being able to get free things out of the excitement and courtesy of a potential new friendship (events, food, hosting, language exchange, free tours...) certainly pays off! Just meeting family or a friend often for the sake of having a chat and some fun is a no-go. That's only what Southern Europeans do because "it's in their soul / are a different Volk" (see point 4).

3. "They are not grateful, show remorse, or apologize". Grateful, apologize, why? A German deserves it all and does everything right, it's only the rest who have to prove themselves and make mistakes. Especially if they are below their power hierarchy or are considered inferior for whatever reason (for example, because they are Southern European).

4. "That's how I am", as an excuse. This is possibly my favorite thing I ever heard, and I have heard it often. In spite of the image of modernity they pretend to project, Germans hate change. Also, if I am already perfect, why should I change? Are you saying there's something wrong with me? (Go to point 1). In addition, most Germans pretend to be anti-religion but deep inside they have an alternative ultra-weird esoteric/mystic/spiritual concept of the world and think there is some "essence" (soul?) in us that makes us what we are. Individually and at the "Volk" level. Of course, it's immutable and altering it is a sacrilege. And, incidentally, serves as a great excuse to have it go their way.

Cheers!





Lonely said...

How sad!All about "self" and nothing more. ME ME ME!! Somewhat like a cold robot. Just run over the feelings of others. Words reflect what is in the heart. German criticism, judmental attitude, and lack of compassion. They do not take advice, but talk over you. Most Germans are depressed.

Anonymous said...

Defective chromosomes have been mentioned in numerous research papers. So Germans are wired this way.

Anonymous said...

Germans are not able to love. They are not able to forgive.

nitpicker said...

It would be very interesting to know two things about the identities of each commentator on this blog, their own nationality, and whether they've ever actually lived in Germany.
Why the former? Because each country tends to have its own stereotyped image of other nationalities, passed from generation to generation, not necessarily true, and often based on past dealings such as war encounters etc. Why the latter? Because living for some years in Germany (as a foreigner anyway) is the only way to comment reliably. I get the feeling that some of the pretty harsh comments such as "Germans are not able to love" by Anonymous on 2/10/18 are based on hearsay or perhaps an unrepresentative personal experience because they're so patently untrue. I'm British, I married a German woman 17 years ago, and have lived in Germany a lot of that time and I can say for sure that it's utter nonsense to say that German's cannot love. Even without personal experience, anyone who's read the poetry of Goethe, Rilke or Schiller, or listened to the sublimely beautiful music of Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and a dozen other German composers would conclude that these works could simply not have been written by anyone without the capacity for love.
Having said that, there's no doubt that the author of the blog itself, who is married to a German and also spent much time in Germany, does capture a lot of truths. Germans are introspective, creative, can be overbearing at home whilst timid and gullible abroad, and are also to some extent authoritarian. They do have an excellent sense of humour; it's just different to British and American humour. But their humour, including their coarse humour is much closer to British than French humour is to British, and it's also much closer to British than British is to American. The Brits and the Germans, although they may not know it, can both share bawdy humour that would have the average Yank blushing and running for cover.

But the really serious omission from the main author's blog is this . . . the true German's fatal sense of obedience to authority. If there's a rule (and there are plenty in Germany) he or she will slavishly obey it. Why is this serious? Because it's what got the Germans into so much trouble in WW2. Anyone who thinks Germans are all Nazis at heart is totally wrong. They're 90% decent people just like in any society, but if someone bad comes to power and makes rules, then they'll follow those rules slavishly even if it gets them into hot water.

I see this even with my dear wife. As a Brit I'm a bit of an anarchist ( the absolute opposite of the average German) so if for example the pedestrian crossing light is on red on a quiet town street at night and I go to cross the road, my wife will pull me back and say "No, you can't do that". Similarly, there's a crazy rule in Germany that no-one can work on a Sunday (certain vital jobs excepted obviously). But if I ignore that rule and go out into our garden on Sunday and start hedge cutting for instance, a local is likely to come by and say to me "That's work. You're not supposed to be doing that". But then, if I respond with "Fuck off, I'll work if I want to" the sense of obedience then works in my favour because they immediately respond and walk away meekly!
So the complete German inability to revognise that from time to time 'the law is an ass' is in my view a really serious shortcoming for their society, and I think the problem as a flaw in their national character does need to be highlighted.

Anonymous said...

German's have a problem with any change. They can not cope with being open to new restaurants, change in rigid routine, or expanding their limited activities. Every day is the same. They have a narrow view of everything. Germans are unable to be spontaneous. They insulate their selves to the feelings of others.

nitpicker said...

Dear Anonymous, I guess you're anonymous for a reason. But you can't possibly live in Germany. I do, and there are new restaurants opening ALL the time, and people love it. Of course in tiny villages and communities, people are more conservative. But it's exactly the same in a country district if the USA or a village in France. So your generalisation dimply isn't true. As for spontaneity, well, my wife is always organising impromptu parties, events, dinners . . . and do are most if our friends.
One of the dangerous things about any culture other than one's own is to generalise about it, especially when one is wrong!

Tristan said...

I believe anyone can love if they allow themselves to do it and be open to it, but one of the main things you have to be able to do in order to love is... be vulnerable. If you do not allow yourself the capacity to be vulnerable, your relationship will never work because you will not be able to love. This capacity is very hard to find in most Germans. Of course there are always exceptions, but the system and culture in Germany conditions people from birth so it would be hard to simply blame Germans for the way they are. We all have our advantages and contributions as well as our faults and Germans have many advantages and contributions. One of their faults just happens to be that they are, for the MOST part, cold and uncompassionate. Very sad indeed, but you can see that this is what people notice about the Germans. If I really needed some compassion and soft tenderness, I would not turn to one of my German friends... I would simply go elsewhere for that. I do agree with Nitpicker about Germans obeying the rules too much and blindly following. This is definitely a down-side to Germans in my opinion as it does not allow them to think for themselves. They tend to have some opinions that they simply see as FACTS instead of opinions. The world is much more complex and beautiful than this mindset and it is a shame that some Germans cannot see and feel this.

Lonely said...

So true Tristan. German's struggle with showing their feelings. They seem to struggle with letting compassion and understanding into their heart. They feel it is a sign of weakness. I have learned to never share my feelings with a German. They will never encourage you or understand. German's are good at duty driven activity and being on time.Confide in a good friend when needed.

Anonymous said...

So many people have had the same negative interaction with German people. I did not realize how widespread this view is! I would hope these traits would lessen with every generationg

Tristan said...

But it does not seem to be lessening with each generation. I wish they would figure out why Germans are so uncompassionate and selfish, and then figure out a way to change it so they do not turn out like that anymore. They have so many things going for them... seems like if they just changed their attitude and became more considerate with regard to interacting with other humans, then they would be so far ahead of so many other cultures. I think that is the one thing holding them back... the bad attitude and negativity. It is just too much. Sad.

nitpicker said...

Well I get the feeling that this thread is a place for those who have had negative experiences of Germany and German people. I would ask again . . . who of those commentating has actually lived and socialised in Germany for a meaningful length of time?
I have, and whilst recognising that Germans can be reserved, grumpy, inward looking, bombastic, and authoritarian, I also see warm hearts aplenty, excellent manners, caring neighbours, altruistic and generous youth and lots of charity work especially for immigrants. I also see a huge amount of German input to overseas aid, especially of the hands-on kind. Finally, I see a massive reluctance against militarism by the young.
Every country's people has its bad points. My own, Britain has arrogance aplenty, and insularity for example. If the world doesn't seek to find a country's good points and only highlights the bad, then the risk is that the criticisms become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's time to give Germans and Germany a chance and stop damning its youth with stereotypes from the past. Let me end with the kind of chilling thing that young Germans are subjected to . . . . the son of a wonderful, kind and generous German family I know well was sent for a year to a high school in the USA to broaden his mind. He'd only been in the class for a day when an American pupil said to him "Oh, you're German? Nazi, eh?" Why should any child have to bear that?

Tristan said...

Nitpicker, Thanks for your post. I want to address a few things you mentioned: I am not sure what you meant by Germans being "inward looking". Perhaps you can explain that one as I see very few Germans as being "inward looking" and would take it a step further to say that they should seek to look more inward so they can find their compassion for others and not focus only on themselves. Compared with so many other countries like America and Southern Europe and Southeast Asia(Philippines, for example), the people in Germany are simply much more selfish than people in those places. I bet one could site the weather as one of the many reasons for this, but it goes deeper than that in my opinion. I do agree with you about the younger generations, they seem to be much more compassionate and see further than the older generations, which simply refuse to learn anything new. I am unable to give an opinion on Brits as I have only been there briefly, but what I know of Brits so far... I like. They seem to be blunt, but still friendly and funny. I like that. Your point about "damning the youth in Germany with stereotypes about their past" I would say really does not apply here, unless you think that Germany´s youth are heavily influenced by the past events we all know of. I would say that the older Generations are influenced by that and even people still in their 50´s, for example, are still influenced by the leftover atmosphere from all of that. I really wish people would just stop using that whole Nazi card altogether. It is over and we should let it exit as it wants to. I also think it is very hypocritical when Americans specifically use the Nazi card as the Americans murdered over 100 million natives in the process of "settling" that country. Maybe that should have been the response of your friends´ son upon hearing that comment in school from that American pupil... I am sure that kid just did not know how to connect with him and he just spouted off the only German thing he had ever heard in a feeble attempt at communication. Very sad and you can blame that one largely on the dumbed-down education system in the U.S. I agree, no one should have to hear hurtful things like that. With all of that said, there still remains this rude German behaviour that seems to be a generally consistent trait of a majority of Germans. I find most Germans to also be extremely jealous of other people´s success. ALMOST none of the Germans I know or have met, want the people around them to really succeed. They want them to fail at whatever they try so they can take some pleasure in that failure and make themselves feel better for a bit. They even have a word for it: "schadenfreude", loosely translated as "taking pleasure in someone else´s failure or shame". I really wish I could find some sort of Psychoanalysis on this subject as it is truly frustrating and fascinating at the same time and I bet it would really clear a lot of things up as to the REASONS for this type of behaviour from Germans. Also, to answer your question. I have lived in both the U.S. and Germany for many years in each country. I have also lived in Africa, South America and Asia... LIVED... not just travelled... important distinction. I have been to many more countries so I feel I do have somewhat of a basis for comparison. May we all be more insightful and "inward-looking" in the future... : ) Cheers...

nitpicker said...

Dear Tristan,
Thanks. Re your points:
1) Glad you've experienced German life. Personally, I have 17 continuous years under my belt, living in a small town in South West Germany. I've also lived in France and Australia. But the majority of my life in England.
2) I'm reasonably sensitive to rudeness and can honestly say that in the 17 yrs I've lived in Germany, I have experienced it just once, in an airport worker. I have never experienced it locally. I think it's important to define what rudeness is. For example in China, just to say 'no' to someone is considered rude, whereas in Arab countries it can be considered downright rude to eat with the wrong hand. Every country has different standards or expectations. Germans are very blunt, yes. They can also have little finesse or subtlety. That's just the way they deal with each other, particularly that generation who are older and/or have never travelled. It's easy to see how that can be considered as 'rude' by someone used to extreme politeness, which (perhaps apart from New York) is more the norm in America and is the opposite end of the spectrum. So if the room is too hot in Germany, you don't say "Hmmm, I wonder if we could let a little air in?" or something similarly roundabout, you just say "Look it's too hot in here".
Let's take the opposite . . . when I'm in the US, I get sick and tired of hearing everyone telling me to "have a nice day" because inwardly to me it seems utterly insincere when coming from someone who's just sold me a 50c box of matches. But I don't go around branding the American nation as hypocrites, which I could easily do. I just shrug to myself and think "well, that's just the way Americans are, and they have plenty of other good points". I personally think that's how one should regard the often extreme bluntness of older Germans. And as travel increases, I think you'll see the edges blurring. Plus the grumpy oldies will die out!
2) You suggest a 15 yr old German boy on his first day in school in a foreign country, and born FIFTY years after WW2 ended, might defend himself on the spot after the shock of being branded a Nazi. Unfair and unrealistic I think!
3) Re my suggestion that Germans are introspective/inward looking. I'm a bit shocked you disagree with this. There are literally dozens of German authors who demonstrate this national quality, from Freud and Goethe, right through dozens more famous German philosophers, poets, and novelists who prove this. Germans are ALWAYS analysing themselves, questioning themselves, doubting themselves, no question of this at all from history. But that doesn't mean it'll change the way they interact with each other or that they'll change when they meet a foreigner, any more than an American will stop wishing everyone 'have a good day'. It's in the blood! As for not showing compassion, I already noted in a previous post that I see significant compassion. I have many German friends who give huge amounts of free time to immigrant issues, to homeless women, to schools, to the Red Crosd and to overseas aid. Perhaps it's because I live in a largely Roman Catholic area, I don't know, but certainly that church encourages its members to massive respect for the disadvantaged and needy. Maybe it's different in Protestant areas. I can't say as I have no experience. But compassion I have certainly seen . . . in bucket-loads.
As for those on this thread who say that Germans can never change their habits, never accept anyone else's point of view . . . well that's hardly a recipe for the sort of scientific or technical advances the country has made, is it? You don't make any advances in any field unless you first admit to yourself that there must be a better way of doing things, do you?

So in summary, yes . . . .

nitpicker said...

continued . . . .,.

So in summary, yes, I see perfectly where some people are coming from when they make all these allegations against the behaviour and attitudes of German people, and I've certainly had a few buckets of cold water thrown over me, so to speak, in getting used to living in the country. No, it's not the easiest place to embed into socially. But first I would say look to oneself and don't overlook the flaws in one's own country, second, see the good points in Germans, third, give as good as you get when you interact in Germany, and fourth, look to the young first and foremost.

Tristan said...

Nitpicker... I can see where your username comes from now... I am glad to hear you have had a different experience than most of us on this thread, however that does not take away from the fact that the greater majority here recognize that there is actually a problem. Perhaps this thread is just not for you... there might be others that are. Sorry you did not see the value of my suggestions and the unbiased nature of my discourse in my previous posts, but to just come back with the same rhetoric is not really adding anything to the thread here... so I will keep this short and just move on with the rest of us here. The fact remains that there is a social-conditioning issue with the Germans and it is abundantly apparent. Perhaps instead of seeing it as a criticism and attempting to espouse a lesson, you could just ponder it and move on...


Cheers.

Lonely said...

German coldness and shunning leaves children emotionally scarred. They are fearful of the harsh unwarranted discipline of volitile parents. They are afraid to cry, because this is a sign of weakness. Germans blame others for their own failings. Germans often look good to others, but retreat to judgementalism, and criticism of people in their family.
I would be doubtful of any travel to Germany. Part of the travel experience is to enjoy the people who live there. Germans are always on guard to avoid potential friendships. Friends make Germans uncomfortable.




nitpicker said...

Yes, you're right . . . it's a site for moaning about Germans. Sorry to have disturbed the theme. Cheers.

Lonely said...

Nitpicker, You have not disturbed "the theme" in any way. Your input is valuable to understand what makes Germans tick. I have lived with a German for many years. Help us to understand the heart of a German. At times I do see a glimmer of care and compassion. I feel Germans are riddled with worry.

Anonymous said...

Nitpicker; Doing for others is all well and good, but, where does it come from? Does it come from duty and to elevate ones self in the eyes of others.

R Hammond said...

A good stew requires lots of ingredients and this discussion revolves around German character. So you toss in the tribal mentality, the arrival of the sophisticated Romans, forced discipline by Rome rules, the Catholic Church business, a one-religion state for a thousand years, the Plague arrival over and over, the Thirty Years War, the exodus of various Germans in the 1700/1800s to the US, those Brothers Grimm, the consolidation of the Prussians over everyone else, WW I, the peace treaty at the conclusion of the war, a weak Republic in the 1920s, Nazi growth, WW II, division of east and west, rebirth in the 1950s, socialism focus, 1970s RAF, Helmet Kohl, and Mutti's multi-culti world.

LocoMan said...

nitpicker has shown the Germanic trait I mentioned in some of my comments above: "please tell me where you come from and how long you have lived in Germany, if at all, so I can know what to expect of you". I don't think so. Every input is valuable, even if it hurts. It's up to each reader to take it or call bullshit.

nitpicker made a great point, though, which I also mentioned above: "they'll follow those rules slavishly". Exactly. This is something that explains 90% of their behavior, as I said.

Make no mistake, nitpicker. When you say: "I also see... altruistic and generous youth and lots of charity work especially for immigrants. I also see a huge amount of German input to overseas aid.. a massive reluctance against militarism by the young"... they arlso following rules, slavishly.

Do you truly believe it comes from a "warm heart" and a real "desire to help others"? I don't deny it exists is some exceptional cases, but the vast majority of them do it because that's what it is EXPECTED currently from them (in form of unwritten rules and society). Germany, in the last 5 years or so, has made a PR mission to show to its citizens, Europe and the World, that, suddenly, it is the most open, tolerant, refugee-helping and good-willing country in Europe. Merkel also had a plan for that: fake it till you make it. I guess if you read "Die Asylindustrie", you might get a closer approximation to the truth.

Most Germans I know that help refugees, do charity, etc... do it for these reasons: (1) because they love virtue signalling and competition and their friends are also doing it, (2) because they love traveling/learning languages/having a life experience for free or very cheaply, (3) because they can add it to their curriculum vitae as a merit.

Have you even seen a German happily pay drinks for friends because he likes celebrating something or is simply happy? Have you seen them not minding about splitting a dinner in equal costs? Have you seen them helping or volunteering without writing that line immediately in their CV? Doing favors without expecting anything in exchange? Doing stuff just because they are genuinely happy about it, without any further rationalization (like "moral duty") or hidden agenda? Sorry but most of us haven't.

How many Germans do you think will just marry a Turkish person? And a Syrian refugee? Move to a building full of foreigners? To a small town with a refugee asylum?

Again, it's not that German are terrible people, monsters, or anything, but what we've talked about here is seen much more often than not. Definitely warm-hearted, compassionate, humble, generous, cheerful, tolerant, open-minded, etc.. are adjectives that I have never, ever, heard about a German in my whole life coming from any foreigner living there (like me) or by Germans themselves.

And, yes, most Americans are hypocrites and their political correctness and artificial acting when dealing with people sucks big time to most, so what? Even though an attack on other nationalities is a great defense, this page is about the personality traits of the Germans.

You seem to imply that "Germans are just that way, so accept them, try to see the good side, and stop bitching".

As also mentioned above, that's possibly the most German trait of all.

Cheers!

Tristan said...

For most of the people from other parts of the world who have travelled to Germany a few times, these traits become painfully obvious. For a German, it is SO ENGRAINED in them that they cannot see it. I think it should be mentioned not to simply blame all Germans. They have a serious problem that they simply do not see. Perhaps an objective German will read these comments and try to learn? I hope that is the result instead of just spewing hate back at the commentators. These comments do seem harsh, but all one can do is judge from personal experience, right? I have had MOSTLY negative experiences with Germans. If you let them, they will use you as much as possible and think nothing of it. They are not in touch with feelings, some of them excluded of course. Sorry, but it is just too obvious. I have interactions with Germans every day that prove these comments. I wish it were not true and I still search for the good ones and will continue to do so.

Cheers

LocoMan said...

"If you let them, they will use you as much as possible and think nothing of it."

Don't even get me started. Taking advantage of others and masking it as compassion/niceness or even as a favor (and doing business with it) happens all the time, especially with people who are in an inferior position (don't master German, have worse skills, are new to the place, etc...). This is morally mean and wrong, but they can't see it or even accept it. They'll just say: "that's just how things are", or "you just did it because you wanted... no one really FORCED you to do so...".

Countless examples come to my mind. From language tandem "exchanges" where the German will push to always practice your language only (they see it as a free langauge lesson for them, don't forget), to taking advantage of people from other cultures that are genuinely generous (and for example quickly, warmly, and openly invite Germans home, cook dinner for them, etc...).

It will take some time for the foreigner to realize that that's not an exchange between people that genuinely like each other or the beginning of a friendship, but just "not missing an opportunity for free food/meeting exotic people/exciting event". Again, people go last.

I've witneseed the following phone conversation between 2 German women from a small town, allegedly very good friends since high school, that had not seen each other for months.

- "Hi, I am in town, we are at the wine festival! Wanna join? We've not seen each other for some time and I am here with some friends".
- "Well, actually that would be great cause today the kids are with my parents and we have free time. How's the atmosphere? Are there many people?"
- "Actually there are not many people here today, and the music is not great, I don't know why".
- "Aha, okay, the thanks but, no thanks. The we'll just stay home. Next time. Have a great night!".

I argued with them that in other cultures this would be a reason for stopping the friendship. The event itself and the atmosphere was much more important than having a drink with a friend, and they didn't even offer them to visit them home if they were lazy or something.

This is not an isolated anecdote. I have hundreds like this, like a friend from town only calling and visiting when they needed to stay over in the city for some event or weekend party. Sometimes they even brought ANOTHER friend.

When I comment this, they all get mad at me and they could not see how these actions are remotely wrong or any indicactive of not being "a good friend" (or just "a friend").

The rage is clear: Germans of course are also deeply hurt and hesitate if this is a real friendship or just a selfish usage of each other. They are human after all. However, they have been raised not show that they have been hurt and that this deeply affected them. They just need to suck it up and act as if nothing happened. It was actually their mistake, because they should just act exactly the same way next time: by being as selfish and inflexible as their friends are, and fighting strongly for their interests.

Of course, this concept of "friendship" does not fit many other cultures, especially southern Europeans.

Cheers!

Tristan said...

Every time I read a new comment, I cannot help but totally agree because I have had exactly the same experiences with Germans. They are opportunists, simply put. They see most situations as an opportunity for themselves... never for both parties involved. I really want to find one of these comments to disagree with, but I just cannot find one.
I am recognized as an expert in my field in my home country and I moved to Germany at one point in my life and was applying for jobs there and submitted all of my degrees and certifications and awards, recognitions, etc... and they offered me a starting wage of 14 Euros per hour. My rate of pay in the U.S. was 10 times that!!!! I could not believe it. I just got up and walked out of the office. I was later offered something more substantial, but that situation was just insulting. I really hope the Germans change some day, but I am not holding my breathe. Maybe it´s the shitty weather, but I have met friendly people in Seattle too, and all over the world. I find southern Europeans to be very friendly... and Australians are very friendly too... and Americans are friendly in General if you meet the rights ones they can be golden. Actually, Scandinavians are far more friendly than Germans. I wonder why that is. What is the problem?

LocoMan said...

By the way, I have experienced very similar patterns in the 3 German-language speaking countries in Europe, and I'd bet it happens in other Germanic-rooted cultures as well.

I honestly don't know what the problem is. Possibly, it's related to their complicated past and obsession with imposing and conquering Europe: barbarians against Romans, Protestants against Catholics, nationalistic/ethnocentric against an extremely racially and politically diverse Europe. And now the European Union under German law and economic rules. Germans just won't give up trying to prove they are the best and things have to be done their way, even if no one else agrees.

If you brainwash the population about all this and that rules and establishment are to be respected without thinking, conciously or not, no wonder why how many individuals are how they are.

Anonymous said...

You know what it means to protest too much all you "wordy" contributors. When comments hit home! I agree Tristan, I have NEVER met a German who made me feel comfortable to be with. One must be on guard with either Jekyl or Hyde. Temper and rage can flare without warning. My best friends parents put the newspaper in front of their faces so they did not have to show any sign of friendliness. Overcast weather can trigger German depression and gloom. Best to stay clear on cloudy days.








Lonely said...

LocoMan is right on! So many mutual observations. I can't imagine what it would be like working for a German. You would never know what to expect. Perhaps Germans have a latent fear of failure

Tristan said...

I can tell you exactly what it is like to work for a German. If you are good at what you do, just do your work and do it right and settle yourself inside and pay no attention to them because they will always be comparing themselves to you and they will be jealous of you if they think you might be better than them, especially if you are not German, because of course ONLY Germans can do anything right because they have a superior system of education. You can feel the resentment energy coming off of them the whole time. It is ridiculous. I learned to just do my thing and not let them affect me in any way. Eventually I had my own thing and had created what I call "fuck you factor", so I left. All of that companies clients eventually called me to do their work and complained about the German company. You are correct in that you never know what to expect. Most of them are Bipolar, so you are always on guard, but who wants to always be on guard? You can never be at peace at work that way. That is no way to live. Germans are way too competitive. My approach has served well in Germany. My German clients tell me it is a refreshing change to work with me compared to the intensity of working with other Germans. That relaxed, but thorough approach is not well-known to them, so it just happens to work in Germany.

LocoMan said...

I have also worked for several Germans and totally agree. The pattern is: you are a foreigner from Southern Europe so you are inferior by definition, because that's the essence of your Volk: you are lazy, bad with money, and are only interested in fun. But you can still do some useful stuff for us. Your much better qualifications than mine, experience, and languages don't qualify you for the good positions though, because you dom't speak speak foog German. Then, when you learn it, you find out the problem is you ARE NOT German for. Every success you have is a matter of luck and never enough for the boss. Being a German boss consists in managing money and ripping the rewards of your hard working employees. And yes, they are extremely jealouj of any successful employee, which they just consider "a threat".

I have worked in the US and Southern Europe and I can say my German bosses have been the laziest by far. They are constantly traveling, meeting, in teleconferences, events, and every possible place that offers a chance not to be at the office and get some REAL work done. That's the way to evade responsibility and accountability, and of course to get free travel and food (necer forget that!).

Then from time to time and particularly when things fo bad, they come to spread fear, call the employees lazy and teach them lessons.

All that why they show you pictures of their last "business trip to Spain", where they were so stressed because the hotel was only 4 stars and the paella was not as good as last time. You were actually lucky to have stayed at the office in Germany, where everything works great.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I would think it to be stressful just getting ready to go to work! Like putting on armor for combat. So sorry you have been dealing with this caustic work environment. Even if a German volunteers to take part in an activity, they criticize and judge other volunteers for not doing as much as they do, or not doing it right. They March around observing the performance of others. They decide who is worthy and who is useless in their rule oriented life. Another way to approach the work day, is to feel sorry for German's, and their shallow lonely existence.

Tristan said...

They are jealous that I have found some sort of peace inside of me and I have been successful in my endeavors. When I realized this was the case, I just let that settle in... then the first emotion I felt after that was pity... because they are so insecure and jealous. So I just stayed my course and eventually out-performed and out-lasted them. The thing that really gets me is that they just do not want you to be successful, especially if you are not German... and even when they are faced with having to admit that you actually did it, achieved it... they will still find a reason to justify why you are successful, but are still not as good as them... "It was because.... or... but the only reason you were successful is because... blah blah blah..." They will ALWAYS find a way to make you seem less in their mind. So sad. AND... the passive aggressive thing... yea... they have perfected that one... I was already booked out far in advance and my ex-boss asked me to help him do a job... and when I told him politely I was booked and needed more advance than two days... he never wrote back... BUT... after he completed his job, he made sure to tell me that he did not need me and it came out perfect and he was so successful with that project without me...

I mean... WOW... this kind of thing is what children do! Not adults! It is mind-blowing! And happening on a daily basis in Germany still!

Let me say this... If a person does not work on themselves... they will never change and never succeed. Any person who is always working on themselves will find success and more importantly... a center of peace within a world of chaos and this energy will pulse out from him/her and others will be attracted to it... then he/she must make the right decisions in moving forward... but ALWAYS be respectful and considerate of others... you can never know their lives.

Anonymous said...

Tristan, You have amazing insight. So happy you have found a place of peace in such a difficult work environment.

One other observation relates to Germans who attend church services. They position the church bullitin in the bible holder in front of them so they can tick off the expected order of the service. You can sense them " bristle" if something is out of order or different. They may also seek out another church due to upset in ritualistic adherence.

I am beginning to think obsessive compulsive disorder rules the life of a German person. Why can't they break out of this pattern? So sad to miss out on life's joy.

Lonely said...

Best not to respond to such behavior. Germans cannot resist demeaning others, and wait for the opportunity. Never expect to be comforted by a German. They are void of the emotion.