Just a few years ago, Germany was pronounced the world’s most popular country. Meanwhile, the Germans are one of those unlucky nations that are marked by the world’s stickiest stereotypes. But are those German stereotypes really true?
Everyone has their own perception of Germany, even before visiting the country for the first time or having their first interaction with a German person. There’s a lot of misunderstanding going on, in other words.
I myself had endless misconceptions about the Germans before I moved to Leipzig in September 2012. How surprised I was to find out that everything I thought about Germans was false!
So, to save you from the culture shock, I officially present to you the most common German stereotypes that are completely untrue (at least, according to my own experience).
8 False German Stereotypes
1. Germans have no sense of humor
In general terms, Germans are lovely outgoing people who love to have fun.
But, I hear you say (and I agree), having fun and being fun are two different things. You are right, of course, but the thing about the German sense of humor is that it’s very peculiar. Back during my time in Leipzig, I found that Germans enjoy having a good laugh and appreciate a good joke unless it becomes too personal, extreme, or insulting.
Germans hate insult jokes, and they don’t really get the purpose of sarcasm either. But the main reason why Germany is officially the world’s least funny country (says The Telegraph) is that Germans don’t know how to laugh at themselves. They take themselves extremely seriously and take jokes too much to heart.
So don’t you ever, EVER, point out that there’s something funny or foolish about them unless you want them to dislike you.
2. Germans are very organized and super responsible
Germans loooooove making lines in the supermarket and they never cross the road at the red light. But it stops there.
You’d be surprised at how disorganized Germans can actually be!
Sometimes their lack of self-discipline reaches shocking peaks, e.g. the phone company forgets to cancel a service after you’ve already cancelled the contract and still wants to keep charging you, or your university professor loses your bachelor thesis, or a debt collector person suddenly wants you to pay bills that aren’t yours, or you get an official warning for downloading a movie you never even heard of…
I didn’t just randomly come up with these examples. They all happened to me during my two years of living in Germany, the place of the world’s most organized chaos. So, to sum up my own experience, I really wouldn’t say that Germans are super organized. In fact, it’s quite the opposite!
3. Germans love cars more than anything
Given that Germany makes the best car brands in the world (Volkswagen, BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes), this stereotype is somewhat acceptable. And indeed, Germans do love their cars – but they love their bicycles more. If you get to visit Münster, for example, known to be the bicycle capital of Germany, you’ll see that Germans give preference to more eco-friendly means of transportation.
4. Germans are extremely punctual
Totally disagree! I literally just have one German friend who has never been late to anything. Just one.
So flash news: Germans are really like Deutsche Bahn: they don’t take time schedules too seriously.
5. Germans are rude
This is, probably, the most famous of all the German stereotypes.
Usually everybody thinks that Germans are tough-toned and strongly-worded.
And indeed, they tend to be quite harsh in expressing their opinions, but it’s not because they’re genuinely rude people. It’s because the German language is just so fucking precise. In fact, a bit too precise to show too much tact. Germans know exactly how to word an idea without drawing a veil over it, because ambiguities in the German language simply do not exist.
So technically, Germans are not being rude. They have just a precise manner of speaking.
6. Germans are bookworms
There’s no doubt that German people are quite well-read.
But unlike the common belief, Germany is far from being the most reading nation in the world.
In fact, their reading rate is relatively low even in comparison to the world’s least prosperous countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines, or India! Video games, surprisingly enough, get way more love from the Germans than books do.
Germany has the largest video game market in Europe and hosts the world’s leading gaming expo every year (Gamescom in Köln). Not something you’d expect, huh.
7. Germans are romantics
Even though it was Germany that began the movement of romanticism in the late 18th century, Germans can hardly be labelled as romantics themselves.
For starters, the language they speak is definitely not Die Sprache der Liebe, the language of love, and this really shows in their pragmatic, emotionless behavior.
The Germans are very open, straightforward, and honest. This is a good thing, of course, but then, there’s very little element of flirtation and seduction left.
The common joke is that in Germany, a man can be passionately in love with you for years and you wouldn’t even have the slightest idea. I’d like to think that there were a lot of Germans in love with me while I was living in Leipzig, but they were just too German to show their feelings.
8. German language is ugly
A harsh, overly complicated language with words that are kilometers long and can only be used for insults – that’s what people think of the German language.
But the thing is, German is an acquired taste. Once you get the melody of it and learn how to follow its rhythm, the language starts to sound different in your ears. German is not ugly – it’s just horribly difficult. And those are two different things.