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German People Stereotypes: Which Ones are True?

All Germans love drinking beer, eating homemade bread, and listening to Rammstein: yes or no? 

Being among the highest quality in the world, German beer is loved and enjoyed by Germans and foreigners alike. That isn’t to say no Germans prefer wine or schnapps to beer.

While Rammstein is one of the few internationally successful German music acts, German ballads do exist, and some of them are quite beautiful. Incidentally, Rammstein have some amazing ballads too. And doesn’t everyone love homemade bread? 

Before we proceed, a word about stereotypes: they are all generally true. The problem is when we apply them to every single representative of a group. We run the risk of dealing with an exception. The stereotypes you’re about to read won’t apply to every single German in the world. What’s more, we dispel many of them. 

Everything Happens per Schedule

Punctuality is seen as a national trait. Germans are never late if they can help it and consider being on time nothing short of a virtue. They would rather be early. If they are late, they will call to warn you and apologize. 

Soccer is the National Pastime 

Soccer is the most practiced and attended sport in the country by a long shot. This country has more football fan clubs than any other. The German Football Association has almost 200,000 teams! The Bundesliga and the German football league are followed internationally and attract famous players from all over the world. 

Supreme Attachment to Order

Germans are attached to planning, organization, and order more than most nations. Others can perceive them as being rigid for this reason. However, their highly developed ability to create structure is why they are so efficient. They aren’t European leaders in technology for nothing! 

How “ordered” are they? Maybe too much. Two cyclists would rather crash than one of them swerving into the pedestrian lane. It’s not a joke, I’ve seen it. Even if no car is coming, they won’t jaywalk.

They were one of the first countries to introduce and abide by recycling. Now, there are garbage cans for paper, metal, plastic, and organic waste at every street corner in every town in the EU. 

It’s the Land of Insurance

This is another somewhat old stereotype, as many countries have all kinds of insurance today. Again, Germans were pioneers in this respect. There’s practically nothing you can’t secure yourself against here: legal insurance, personal liability insurance, travel insurance, household insurance, life insurance, car insurance, and pet insurance. 

The big four are retirement insurance, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and long-term care insurance (RV, AV, KV, and PV). These will show up on every salary invoice; there are deductions even for part-time jobs of a few hours a week.    

Also the Land of Heavy Metal

This would appear to paint a contradictory picture: order and insurance on one hand and heavy metal on the other? It just goes to show how multifaceted German culture is. 

Germany probably has the biggest number of heavy metal bands per capita. 95% of their international acts are metal bands: Kreator, the Scorpions, and Rammstein to name just a few. They have stellar artists in all the subgenres. 

Everyone Eats Homemade Bread 

Maybe not, but everyone should – it’s absolutely delicious. German students abroad miss German bread almost as much as they do German beer (I imagine). At any rate, bread is a major part of German cuisine. 

Bäckereien have tons of shelves with all types of rolls and loaves: white, dark, crunchy, sweet, savory, and garnished with all types of nuts and seeds you can imagine. 

If They Don’t eat Meat, They’re Probably not German

It’s true, Germans are big on meat. I’m not only talking about Wurst either but yes, they’re big on that too. 

Bockwurst, Blutwurst, Wiener Wurst, Bratwurst, Cervelatwurst, Currywurst, Weißwurst, Kinderwurst, Brühwurst, Rostbratwurst, Sommerwurst, Teewurst, Mettwurst, Jagdwurst, Fleischwurst, and Leberwurst are just some of the sausage types they have. 

They love red meat: steak, fillets, and anything else. 

Germans are not About Pleasantries 

In other words, the art of small talk is not one they have mastered. Nor are they trying to. This is one of those older stereotypes. They are not necessarily undiplomatic, but they are straightforward. They like getting to the point. They’re also very good at getting to the heart of the matter. They’re unique to do business with in this respect. 

Cultures that place great focus on indirect communication might perceive them as rude. They are not rude, simply goal-oriented in their communication. Other cultures can perceive them as distant, cold, somewhat standoffish.

They respect their personal space and other people’s. They take longer to open up than Americans or Italians, for example. Close friendships with Germans are a work in progress, but when they finally do happen, they are real. 

No Sense of Humor 

Now everyone has heard this stereotype. One joke goes that “100 Years of German Humor” is the shortest book ever written. Yes, Germans are very serious at work, but when they play, they play. 

This is part of their goal-oriented nature. When you go to a small neighborhood pub, for example, you could see people drinking and smoking weed openly, laughing, joking, having fun. 

No Sense of Style 

French and Italian fashion houses are world-famous. Why is there no German haute couture? German style, be it related to art, fashion, or anything else, tends to appeal to popular taste. One word that comes up in this context is the German word kitsch; an object appealing to popular taste. 

Kitsch was first used to describe 19th century artwork, whose visual appeal favored melodrama and exaggerated sentimentality. 

Kitsch art involves romantic, pleasant, and palatable visuals and themes that few people would find objectionable or disagreeable. It appeals to the superficial beauty standards human beings hold. It is anything but controversial. 

To term something "kitsch" is equivalent to saying it serves only a decorative and ornamental purpose and has no real artistic merit. Still, you can enjoy kitsch art, literature, or music in a sincere and positive way. Generally, the fact that the word is German has no bearing on German culture.  

Beer Aficionados 

Are Germans a nation of beer worshippers? Germans and foreigners alike love beer. Germans are probably the best brewers in the world with thousands of beer varieties. Beer and Wurst is the German version of the chicken and egg question. They have a statutory provision on the purity of ingredients you can use to make beer, which goes back to the 16th century.

In terms of beer consumption, they’re one of the world’s leaders. Few Germans need a bottle opener to open a beer bottle. 

Sadly, the Nazi stereotype persists, although it’s become very rare. This period of history is best forgotten and will be eventually. We can’t wait.

About the Author Daniela Kirova

Daniela Kirova is a German and English language teacher, translator, and copywriter. She finished school in the US and holds degrees in English / German linguistics and psychology.