This week, I debunk 9 myths about Germans using my own experience so far.
Before we moved to Germany, I will admit I knew very little about the country in its present day.
Of course, I knew a fair bit about its history, because British schools will happily shout loudly about how much of a bastard Hitler was, but refuse to acknowledge Britain’s own horrific acts of violence during the Empire era that has led to an inherently racist system.
The following are just some of the things I was told about Germans prior to moving here:
1. They are rude and antisocial:
One of the biggest misconceptions about Germans.
They are direct, for sure.
British people LOVE to go around the houses and hide what they’re really trying to say behind niceties and metaphors. Germans will tell you exactly how they’re feeling and are totally nice about it. If they correct you on something, they do so with a genuine want for you to improve. I have come across a few genuinely rude people here, but I came across a LOT more rude people on a daily basis in England I can assure you that.
2. They have no sense of humour:
I have no idea who started this rumour/myth, but it is just purely incorrect. Firstly, there are about 5 million comedy shows on German TV, PLUS a still very popular annual Comedy Awards Show. The Germans I have come across so far have had a great sense of humour! In a similar way to us Brits, they can be pretty sarcastic and their humour is pretty dry and dark.
3. They’re obsessed with cars:
I almost understand this.
Germany is the birthplace of some of the biggest car manufacturers in the world. They have Audi, VW, Mercedes and Porsche under one country umbrella, along with the famous German Autobahns, many of which have no speed limit.
And to some extent – it’s correct. There’s a pretty big American classic car culture where we live. And the closer you get to the mountains on a sunny day, the more likely it is that you’ll see a car of some significant value.
But the obsession with cars and in particular modified cars just isn’t as prevalent or outlandish as it is in the UK. Simply put, it’s just more difficult and significantly more expensive. Most modifications have to be legally reported to and inspected by the TÜV (MOT). Cars have to meet emissions levels and display them to drive in a city. Many towns have strict speed limits, and there are sections of the Autobahn which have speed limits in place. There are also a whole bunch of other different laws that make it increasingly difficult/simply not worth the time to own a performance or modified car.
4. They’re efficient:
Okay sure, when I called my doctor at 5:55pm closing time, they gave me an appointment 30 minutes later and stayed open for me. Sure, when Zac had to go to the dentist, he got an emergency appointment within 1 hour.
Expect 4-6 weeks for a response to a job application (if any at all). It took my health insurance 3 months (!) to confirm my application. Then, when I was out of work between January-March 2020, it took them until May/June to advise me the amount I was required to pay for voluntary insurance. For any tiny change to your car/licence, you must make an appointment with the Kfz-Zulassungsstelle (Vehicle Registration Office) and physically go there in person to make the changes.
Sure, they love paperwork and bureaucracy. But they’re sloth-like slow at getting it processed. Germans are not the most efficient people I’ve ever seen. It’s all a lie I’m telling you!
5. They drink nothing but beer.
True story: I have now met 3 Germans who do not drink at all.
Beer is the “standard” drink here, and yes, you can have something called a breakfast beer. But believe it or not it’s not all they drink. Aperol Spritz / Rose wine seems to be pretty popular during the summer months, as do standard non-alcoholic fizzy drinks.
There’s also a pretty big coffee culture, with proper barista style, bean grinding coffee machines appearing in almost every household. There is one for every department at my workplace.
6. The German language is aggressive and harsh.
I used to be fully on board with this. I’ve seen those YouTube videos.
But TikTok (which I do not know how to use) proved this to be a myth for me. Like any language, when you put emphasis on words to deliberately make them more aggressive, then yes, it is going to sound like an aggressively harsh language.
But if you say them like an actual normal human being, then they aren’t so bad. I find some words in German to be nicer than the English equivalent. And some of them make far more logical sense. That is, until you start stringing them together to make words longer than my god damn dissertation.
All that being said, I still can’t tell if my neighbours are arguing or joking with one another, so…
7. They’re naked all the time.
My neighbour did take his t-shirt off as soon as March hit and I’m pretty sure he’s not put it back on since.
But they really are not naked all the time! I’ve been to the local lake and river. I know. What I think this myth refers to is the removal in Germany of shame around a human body changing their clothes in public near water. Germans literally do not care. Big bodies, small bodies. They all gotta swim. They all gotta dry. They all gotta change. Carry on.
However, I should point out that getting naked is also a popular pastime for many Germans…
8. German women don’t shave.
I actually don’t know if this one is true or not. Tbh I’m not THAT close with my German lady friends yet and I don’t want to scare them off. They already think I’m weird enough.
I can and have gone for at least 2 months without shaving before now, though. And I’m not German. It’s not even a feminist thing. I’m just lazy.
But so what if they don’t shave?! Good for them! Maybe that’s how they can afford good health insurance because honestly razors are SO EXPENSIVE.
9. They eat nothing but sausage, schnitzel and sauerkraut.
Yes, these are staple food items, particularly here in the south. Yes, you can find Bratwurst on almost every street corner. But they are not the be all and end all of foods in Germany!
The variety of available foods here is incredible.
Germans love gut health, so most supermarkets have a well stocked range of gut-friendly, bio foods. Even in large chain supermarkets, fresh fruit and veg are still very regional and seasonal.
I would also argue that, particularly in Bavaria, bread is possibly a bigger food group than sausage. I’m not mad about that.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post! Next time, I will be sharing a bit of an emotional post because it will have been an entire year since I moved here!
bis zum nächsten Mal / until next time,