15 common American prejudices about Germans - True or not?

From all your answers to my call for prejudices about Germans I have collected the 15 most common. I’ll talk about them in detail and tell you whether I think they are right or wrong. Oh, and when I say “we” I mean “Germans like myself”. I don’t know every German and as in every generalization there are exceptions.

Dead on:

- Germans are obsessed with soccer.
We are. And no matter how often you tell us that we’re wrong - we’ll always call it “Fußball”. The French call it “Football”, as do the British. In fact, I can only think of one country that thinks “football” would be a good name for a sport, where people throw a ball and carry it around in their hands.

- Germans build great cars.
No need to argue this one, I think. Volkswagen builds cars for the masses, Mercedes, BMW, Audi & Porsche show what can be done when the price isn’t that important. Engineering is one of the two things we’re famous for, and rightfully so.

- Germans are inflexible.
This was the most commonly mentioned prejudice, and unfortunately you are right. And it is true in every imaginable way. We don’t move for a new job as often as you do, we don’t adapt ourselves to new situations as easily as you do - yes, we lack flexibility.

- Make great beer & drink a lot of it.
Ah, the other thing we’re famous for. We’re not the country with the highest per capita beer consumption. That’s the Czech Republic, followed by Ireland (map from 2004). But it’s true, Germans (Yours truly being one of the exceptions) drink a lot of beer. And German beer is good. Probably because of the “Reinheitsgebot” (purity requirement).

- Germans are insecure about their history and have no national pride.
You can read how I feel about national pride here. As for the insecurity - you’re totally right. Can you blame us? We have a rich and interesting history, no doubt about that. But thanks to the idiocy of our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generation - Yes, we are insecure, and we will be for a long, long time.


- Germans are rude & boorish.
That depends on age/location/occasion. I can surely understand this prejudice. Worst Case: Middle-aged men on vacation on Majorca (Spain). Majorca is sometimes referred to as the 17th federal state of Germany. Some parts of that island are like a year-around spring break. Only with beer-bellied German guys in their 30’s instead of young students (Okay, I’ve never been there. I only know it from tales and TV. My own little prejudice).

- Germans love kinky, naughty sex.
Uhm, we do? This prejudice caught me by surprise. We’re more open about sex, I know, but kinky? Are you sure you’re not mistaking “Deutsch” for “Dutch”?

- Germans have a stone-age attitude towards women.
The older the guy is, you’re talking about, the better your chances are of being right. Unfortunately the persons in charge of human resources are mostly not young enough. Yet.

- Germans like rules and follow them.
Oh yes. Cross a street when your lights are red, and you will hear an old lady tell you to behave yourself. And when old men are bored, they run around the neighborhood and take notes on who is parking wrongly. Again, the magic word is: Old.

- Germans are extremely efficient.
Well, kinda. It’s true that we can get things done quickly and professionally. But only if it is thoroughly planned. Hey, we have to be efficient. We need to get the same stuff done as you, and we don’t work as many hours.


- Germans are all anti-semites, xenophobic and/or Nazis!
And I’m not gonna list what other words I’ve read in some mails. Of course we have our racist idiots, but who hasn’t? In regions with high unemployment rate you have more, in regions that do better, you have less of them. Yes, it is a shame that these people are what they are. At least ours don’t wear stupid robes.

- Germans have no humor.
They do. Okay, my favorite comedians are all American (Carlin, Leary, Hicks, Maher & Black), but there are some good ones in Germany and we have a long history of fine political cabaret. If you don’t understand German humor, maybe it’s because of the language (thanks to kirun for the link). German is to exact for a lot of the wordplay you can do in English.

- Germans are cold natured.
We are definitely not. But we are careful. When we meet someone for the first time, we tend to act reserved, seemingly reluctant. Maybe that comes across as cold. But once we warm up to someone, we are just as much fun to be around as anyone. And this reserve also has an advantage: When a German calls you a friend, you can be sure that he’s not just saying it to be polite.

- Germans make the worst music in the world.
Nope. “Schlager” and “Volksmusik” are painful to the ears - I’d never call that music. Apart from that, there are some really good bands in Germany. For Punk/Rock you could try “Die Aerzte”, “Die toten Hosen”, Wizo or Rammstein (of course). If your into Hiphop give Seed a try (I don’t like Hiphop, but them I actually like). There are a lot of other good bands. Maybe I should write an extra post about German music.

Which brings us to the meanest, the most offensive, hurtful and unbearable prejudice of them all. And I’m afraid we will have to live with it until the day Conan O’Brien retires:

- Germans love David Hasselhoff
No one does! I know he has an alcohol problem, but that doesn’t qualify him as a German hero. We don’t like his singing, we don’t like his acting. And he hasn’t brought down the Berlin Wall, no matter what his rotten brain makes him believe.

Okay, that have been my comments on your 15 most common prejudices. Any comments or questions? Let me know.

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2007-04-08 21:04:52

[…] linked to this blog before, but now there are 15 common American prejudices about Germany on there that you might want to […]

Comment by Justin
2007-04-08 22:39:29

As someone who has spent a good portion of my life in Germany and the other portion in America, I can assure you that you are right about the prejudices as well as their accuracy… One more I used to hear a lot about: What about Germans and their constant fear of “Kreislaufprobleme”?

Comment by tmz
2007-04-13 15:11:39

ow come on, admit it! you love david! :DD

it’s the germans who made him popular as a singer, otherwise noone would ever know he had a career in music too.

Comment by Sharoz
2007-05-17 12:22:35

David Hasselhoff is truely a legend. But he wasn’t just a singer. Remember series like Baywatch, Knigh Rider and so on.

“Is everybody happy? Yeah, yeaah” ;-)

Comment by Tobsy
2007-05-17 14:07:53

*presses hands on his ears*
la la la, I can’t hear you ;-)

Comment by jdhatl
2007-05-03 11:45:56

1. Germans are obsessed about soccer every four years. The rest of the time only some of them are. There needs to be a movie involving german soccer fans and american football fans getting in each other’s way. I saw a family from Bremen in Munich who were all painted completely green. The hostel filled up with drunk teenagers singing loud songs in front of the Americans in German that were about how obsessed girls were with them. That was very different from the 2002 world cup when life stopped for regular, educated, more culturally open germans. All the non germans in germany are obsessed with soccer too. Most of humanity is obsessed with it actually, except the US and China.

2. German stereotypes about americans caused a problem in my 1984 mercedes- a car made for the American market, they are all automatics because they think americans can’t drive standard transmissions. I need a foreign market Mercedes. You can run them on vegetable oil.

3. The most ass-backwards chauvinistic CSU voting beet farmer is going to be like Noam Chomsky compared to conservatives in America when it comes to “inflexibility”, though this is a recent (post wwII) phenomenon.

4. Germans have a much easier time not drinking than Americans, because it doesn’t matter, nobody calls attention to it. Try not drinking in a bar in America, you get a lot of comments. Germans are more likely (thanks to their much more flexible health care system that the US needs to adopt) to go to a doctor and care about their health. Their beer isn’t nearly as unhealthy as aamerican beer. Plus you can walk home usually rather than here where you have to risk death for yourself or others and sometimes losing your job if you get a DUI.

%. Germans are insecure about their history because they are extremely well educated about it (with the exception of people educated in the East during communism). Americans need to learn more about our own shameful history, which the Nazis borrowed methodology from. They were also funded heavily by American business interests. There are a lot of taboos in germany which mark you as an instant right wing nut, as I discovered when I found a storefront in Wuppertal that was a display about the areas of Germany lost after WWII. They had a big map, and displays of regional candies from there, information about the history. An old man who ran the space came out to talk to me. Later on I was told this was a subject that the extreme right capitalizes on and was shunned from talking about in many circles. Which I think is a shame, those people were victims of political machinations between the US and the Soviet Union, and people in the US don’t know about it at all, because it doesn’t make us look very good.

Comment by CCMSTF
2007-05-06 23:10:14

About the Hasselhoff guy. Yes germans love him, but only the retarded ones. I know this for a fact, since my brother is (half) german, (fully) retarded and a hasselhoff fan.

Comment by yourapussieifyoudontallowanonymousposting
2007-05-10 03:31:18

Haha.. it’s nice that you are (1) posting in English instead of German and (2) using the American spellings when the rest of the English-speaking world spells it “humour.” Too funny!

Comment by Tobsy
2007-05-10 14:32:30

When you write about another country, you should use their language. My English is far from perfect, but surely good enough to be understood.

And why shouldn’t I use the American spelling? I like it. Oh, and Google results for “humor”: 259 mio, for “humour”: 87.2 mio.

Comment by theMan
2007-05-10 17:16:35

actually, American english is what is accepted on a business level. the yanks are the reason why the rest of the world is scrambling to speak english. so who cares if its spelled flavour or flavor, humour or humor. Who are the british, again?

Comment by mädchen
2007-05-15 22:32:11

How about that common german prejudice abut America?: It was just for one man’s vote that German did not become the official language in America.

Comment by Peter Reaper
2007-05-16 17:24:11

Bogus: Germans are all anti-semites

Obviously, no sensible person would say “all”. However, too many Germans (worse: most Europeans) are anti-Semites! Here’s the proof: EU poll: Israel ‘biggest threat’ to world peace

Another site Europeans should read for information they are not getting from their media: Facts and Logic About the Middle East

Anybody who is interested in getting non-anti-Jewish information should read this blog: Lisa’s Welt

Related: Another blog that talks about important issues that are ignored by the mainstream media: Politically Incorrect

PS. I’ve live in Germany for 30+ years, and I have encountered these attitudes very often - not mainly from right-wingers, but from those on the left!

Comment by Peter Reaper
2007-05-17 22:52:32

It seems I screwed up the FLAME link. Here it is again:

Facts and Logic About the Middle East (”FLAME”)

Comment by Peter Reaper
2007-05-16 17:31:53

I just put a lot of effort into assembling my previous comment. I hope you sufficiently understand the importance of allowing (dare I say “encourage”?) differing opinions to post it. Thank you.

Comment by Tobsy
2007-05-16 17:50:41

Don’t worry. I guess the amount of links made wordpress wonder if its spam or not, so it ended up in the moderation queue. I don’t check it that often, so it took nearly half an hour. But it’s here now.

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