Are Germans Really Rude?

are germans rude

Disclaimer: bloggers opinions are entirely their own and are independent of InCultureParent.

Being a German myself, I feel I’m entitled to say this: Germans are rude.
In the UK, being rude is a really bad thing. I wonder where it ranks on the “don’t do” scale, but I guess it’s up there with stealing from the handicapped or old women, or lying to a child. The British frequently run into trouble when they go on holidays. The French probably top the list of “rude, continental neighbours,” followed by the Dutch and Germans.

But this I don’t understand. In my book, Dutch are generally straight-forward, no fuss people who say things efficiently, without too much flowery stuffing. Brits read that as rudeness, but it really isn’t. That alone is not weird. What is really puzzling me is that for the Brtish, Dutch and Germans are similarly rude, when in reality, we win hands down!
There is a certain element of nastiness in our rude behaviour that the Dutch are not even capable of. It makes our rudeness more personal. We Germans seem to try to hit where it hurts. Thinking about some of the things I’ve had to put up with in Germany, I’m feeling an urge to rephrase my opening statement, adding a couple of expletives, because, really, we are eff–oops–blooming rude. Whenever I travel to Germany, I play a game: how long before one of my fellow Germans will randomly insult me for no apparent reason? And will I see it coming?

So far, the record is an incredible 30 minutes after leaving the aircraft and I have not been able to predict it even once! From my (anglicised) point of view, every single incident looks like I came across someone who had an exceptionally bad day. But it happens every time. Do Germans have a lot of bad days then? More than anybody else?

We need more space!

As an example: I was carrying two suitcases down five metre wide stairs at Hamburg’s central train station. No one else was around except for that guy behind me, who instead of zipping around started insulting me for being slow, going on about how he would miss his train (it hadn’t arrived yet!) and that I was clearly a total moron.

I was so surprised that I had to smile at the sheer stupidness of it. Being a German myself, I then told the guy to eff off, of course, in English.

Pro tip: never let a German know that you understand them. We are harsher with ourselves than we are with foreigners. At least most of us.

But why?

My wife (who is not German but has clearly noticed the phenomenon) thinks we are frustrated. It certainly feels like we are, but why? The war? Or maybe the fact that people always bring up the war? I’m not convinced. Could it be our drive for perfection? Are we eternally unhappy because we will never actually get there?

I guess the answer is it’s a hen and egg situation. We Germans have more bad days than other Europeans, and because of that, we insult others who will then have their bad day, spreading the bad mood like ripples on a pond. Or faster. We’re efficient, you know.
And, unfortunately, Bill Watterson was wrong when he had Calvin say, “Nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around.” It doesn’t work for Germans, instead it makes everyone’s life worse.

Photo courtesy of peterziegler, Pixabay.  


  1. I disagree. I’ve spent ten years abroad in a country where being rude appears to be a clue to survival. Upon my return I am surprised about the positive behavior with which I am being treated in Germany. Not an unkind word, mostly helpful or – at the very least – unconcerned attitudes. On a day like today, when the weather is rather shabby, they’ll look grumpy, but flashing a smile usually earns one in return. Remember the German saying: Wie man in den Wald hinein ruft, so schallts auch wieder heraus. The single most disturbing thing is the constant self-criticism under which Germans labor, never being able to credit themselves with the slightest of good deeds. Oh, and bringing up the war, always the war…
    I think your first reaction to the guy behind you on the escalator was correct: just smile. No one country holds the exclusive right to idiotish behavior.

  2. What a sad, shortsighted and prejudiced article.
    I am half German, I grew up in a very multinational surrounding.
    My experience is that ANY nationality can be rude, vulgar ans aggressive.
    The British are (unfortunately) no exception to that.

    Keine Sippenhaft, biitte!

  3. @Daniela: I agree on the “Wie man hineinruft”. I would not expect people to be polite with me when I am grumpy, that’s a given. And I also agree that smiling back is usually the best reaction. On those stairs the guy just didn’t stop and at some point I had enough.
    I think you have a point with the self-criticism. It might even be that that’s the original issue, our constant failure to be perfect. I think we could learn from the British, specifically about this.

    @Isa not “Sippenhaft” but “Stimmungsbild”. Any person can be rude and I would not walk up to a random German and accuse them of being rude. But overall, in terms of anonymous day-to-day encounters, we just do not show the level of politeness that is totally normal in the UK. And having lived in the UK, I think that is the sad thing. It wouldn’t hurt us, as a people to stop barking at strangers for little things and instead say it politely or do what Daniela said: smile.

  4. I agree partly with this article. But rudeness is not the character of german people, it really depends on their mood. And also important is not to generalise. Germany is comment for beeing unfriedly. It also could be that the point of view is negative. Someone who makes positive experiences would maybe not see the rudeness of the German people.
    In this context: Im german and live in Frankfurt which is really comment for rudeness but most people are not original from Frankfurt. Maybe it depends on the city?? 🙂

  5. People of all ages are very good in living up what is expected from them. Your Stimmungsbild of “The Germans” is negative, grumpy and rude. And to be honest, it puts me into an annoyed mood. The kind of mood that makes me hiss at someone that stralls slowly in the supermarket, while I am in a hurry, having 1000 things still to do. That would make me a nasty German.
    Being stereotyped like that as a nation makes people loose their sense of humour.

    Do you also have an anecdote on a friendly and smiling German? One that defies the negative stereotype image so many have of Germans?

  6. @Christina – I don’t think it’s the city, but you are right about one thing: if I walk around being in a bad mood myself, it is more likely to happen.

    My issue really is with these totally random acts of shouting or insulting that happen even when I AM smiling at people.

  7. @Isa – I have to admit that I was in a bad mood when I wrote the article. I had just seen two Germans bark something like “UARGHH! SCHLANGE!!” at three young girls at Cologne airport totally inappropriately. For non-Germans: they wanted to say “Excuse me, would you mind queueing like we all do?” but they just barked “OI! QUEUE!!!”. The three girls had been sent away to fix something by the counter staff and had been told to come back directly, which the two guys in front of me may not have heard.

    Do I have examples of smiling, generous, nice Germans? Oh yes, a lot of them! Starting with the guy I know in the South who routinely buys homeless clothes and drops them into their hats, or the woman with the most consistent good mood I have ever known. There are people who will hold open doors for you even if it makes them miss a train. We have all that in Germany, of course we do.

  8. Having lived in Germany for 3 years, this is the cultural aspect that, unfortunately, made me completely resent the German lifestyle and living there. As you also wrote, I was being hit with it out of the blue, when I expected it less! My personal theory is that it’s the weather! Bad weather makes people behave like that, or adds considerably to the mix of reasons.

  9. @Monica – possible, but I doubt it. Weather in Germany varies wildly, from rain and cold in the North to almost Mediterranean climate in the South West. The trait persists, though.

    And, funny enough: I love how people in the Manchester area in the UK are defensive and generous drivers. But when the sun comes out, everybody turns into a selfish, break-neck pilot. Really weird.

  10. @Jan

    Nothing weird in that. High temperatures increase aggression/short temper. But that is only true up to a certain temperature (I think it was 45ºC or so) when it turns into lethargy.

  11. @Daniela – read up on this effect on the Internet. I had not heard about it before but it sure explains a couple of things! Thanks for that!

  12. I think Germans are so nasty (and they mostly are) because, as your wife says, they are frustrated. They are frustrated because they are excessively deferential and loyal to those in power–their boss, their country–but do not understand or practice the Golden Rule or any other form of individual empowerment or responsibility. Germans behave toward each other either domineeringly or obsequiously in turn, depending on the situation and who they are speaking to. They engage in constant power games with each other because they respect power too much and are fundamentally cowardly, so they won’t stand up for what is right because they might be told to sit back down or have to stand alone for awhile. This cowardice makes Germans feel powerless and grouchy, which they then take out on anyone they can in order to feel slightly powerful for a moment. This is also why Germans so specialize in Schadenfreude–a response of a vicious and unfree people. People who are unfree are generally that way because they are cowards who allow themselves to be easily cowed into conformity. I realize this comment is pretty rambling. Sorry. I have been living in Germany almost 3 years and can hardly wait to leave. In addition to the above, I find most Germans to be greedy and sneaky. Businessmen in particular lie and cheat as a matter of course if they think they can get away with it. They think you won’t notice and I guess most of their fellow Germans turn a blind eye to liars with any status. All of this comes from a lack of good values and the courage to practice them.

  13. @USxPat
    What a rant! I am sorry you had to endure three torturous years in Germany. But think about it! How sad to have lived in a country for three long years, and instead of delving into a new culture there seems to be nothing but extreme disgust and misunderstanding.
    Of course I don’t know you. And far be it from me to discount your personal experiences. If you consider Germans to be mostly disloyal, grouchy, dishonest, power-seeking people with so shockingly low self-esteem they know no better than to put others down, this must of course be based on your experience. You must have spent three years with the cream of German jerks, and I am sorry for it.
    I have spent almost a decade abroad and i remember the many days when I was just sick of it, longing to be around people who truly understood me, shared my values, etc. It was usually painful to realize that it is rather uncommon for 100% of the others to be idiots. Most likely the fault lies within.
    …and yet I know the value of a good rant. I am sure you are feeling better already.

  14. I´m 51 was born in England I moved to Munich in south Germany when i was 25 and haved remained since. The Germans from an English point of view can be percieved to be very rude indeed, when I first arrived I thought the everyone hated me and had no respect, maybe I was a bit to shabby? my skin a shade to dark? I felt singled out for rough treatment from Fritz Public. Soon i Caught on they were equaly ´rude´ to themselves, its how they are. English type manners are percieved as hypoccriticle and unnessercary . What seems rude to us is just not rude for them. Still can´t get used to some things.

  15. I lived in Munich and Augsburg for 7 years after going to Germany for periods of time working on publishing three books beginning in 1981 in Frankfurt.
    I come from a VERY International mixed race background in the Caribbean and grew up in the UK at VERY English Public School.
    I have lived in South America the USA and Canada, I travelled extensively and now live in Scotland after thankfully getting out of GERMany.
    I dont want to seem insulting, though I found some Germans very pleasant some are simply AWFUL, crude, rude and terrible.
    I believe in telling it like it is. I found the rude ones domineering, aggressive and inordinately peculiar. On the other hand when I stood up to them I found them totally sheepish and easy to cower. I used to enjoy giving it right back to them.
    One would find oneself in many peculiar situations which would never happen elsewhere, simply because they could not take off their scheuklappen and see the BIGGER picture. If you dont like it then GO AROUND, but because they did not (or would not?) want to go around they would confront me and find themselves in a BIGGER hole. When they insulted me I insulted them – GO BACK to America – I AM NOT American and you would never know where I am from – most did not.
    Even the man at the Bank who looked after my Account took me to task over some money transferal which went awry – when I said it is your business to find my money he got quite bent out of shape, as a person in that kind of position supposedly to look after his client he was quite aggressive and unhelpful saying that Americans like to SERVE – well if you are in a SERVICE business career then SERVE your kunden correctly. I was mind blown that someone of his standing in a Bank would deal with someone like that.
    I used to ride my Fahrrad and THERE were lots of attacks there – they just could not take it if you were outside of YOUR zone and in their zone – coming from a society where people make do with whatever is at hand I found their attention to detail unnecessary and frivolous to distraction almost – I even had a confrontation in Edinburgh on a cycle path with “a person” and when I asked facetiously “Sind sie Deütsch” how shocked I was to find out the answer from the young man was YES!
    He wanted me to ride on my side of the path and not his side, even though there was ALSO extra area of the park path which he could have ridden on to side step me he made it his business to CONFRONT me and make a scene out of something which was trivial and unnecessary.
    I heard stories from other Europeans living there which were also horrible, intolerant and quite inhumaintarian. An American lady at my bank told me that every Summer her neighbours called the police when she had a small barbecue in her garden because of the smoke. They speak about Leben und leben lassed but they dont LIVE it and everything seems like a medium for criticism because they are simply intolerant.
    I once had a Laden Mädchen talk to me as if I was a school child because I changed my mind at the last moment and swapped this for that – I had to remind her that she was here to serve her customers and not talk to them in that manner – something I only ever experienced in Germany.
    People who are renters also have absolutely horrendous stories to tell – a friend of mine had utter impertinence from her Vermieter who asked her to sit on their Westward balcony which had a view of other buildings overlooking rather than on the North balcony which had a landscape view because he did not want them listening to his conversations below….
    A neighbour of mine who was very friendly in the past “reported” me to my Vermieter because she saw me throw a piece of watermelon skin on the unused wasteland behind the building which co joined her garden at the back.
    All these examples and many many more over those years could fill a book – I dont know the psychology of why the Germans seem to be inordinately rude but they certainly need to realise that guests in their country are leaving and taking stories about their true nature abroad.
    Its one thing to go to Oktöberfest and have a good knees up and everyone laughs and pats each other on the back, when in reality and the daily nitty gritty life there is little to laugh about there. I could sit here and remember countless extensive situations which happened over the years while I was there and in the end I am glad I did leave as it is a place which I found brings inordinate amounts of stress and bad vibes all the time. It is like you go out and wonder well what is going to erupt today.
    Whatever is their psyche angst and social leben its about time they get with the real world and realise that Deutschland ist nicht überalles! In fact as squeaky clean and pristine as they think it is I think its too OVERdeveloped and heartless and alot of the humanity which exists there needs an “adjustment” of some sort.
    Alot of it also is that they DONT like to see ANY kind of criticism of ANY kind. Perhaps they think they understand each other and that is an okay way to treat each other within their reality, but as a person with heart, soul and FEELings you dont treat other people in THAT manner – THAT manner is what allowed German Nazis to easily turn the other cheek and do unspeakable things even to babies and children. Rudolf Höess was the commandant at Auschwitz who had his children playing on one side of a walled garden while he oversaw the murder of countless innocent men, women and children – THAT is just the kind of peculiarity I am speaking about when one highlights the hypocrisy in Germany – one is not “ranting” about their country one is simply highlighting what is REALLY going on unter the überflecker.
    I had a Jamaican friend who was married to a German and it was my distinct opinion that after living there for 30 years she had become Germanic herself and LIKE THAT. Whatever THAT is.
    In the end I began to wonder if even the “polite and normal” relations were really true or were they just oberflächlich.
    Perhaps that is just how they are as a harsh European people because of their psychological background I dont really know and to tell you the truth I dont care. The Americans say IF you dont like it then leave – I left.

  16. As someone who has a german wife (being from the US myself), I can just tell you, that comments like the last one are one of the main reasons Germans “are rude”. It’s those constant negative stereotypes thrown at them. How would you feel if all that you hear about your home country is completly one-sided: negative. It’s basic sociology that you tend to become what others think of you. Since WW2 Germans struggle to “redeem” themselves from their “dark history”, but all they “get in return” is that lingering “Nazi image” or other negative stereotypes.

    Perhaps it’s about time for other parts of the world to be a lot (and I mean A LOT) more open-minded regarding Germany and Germans. If you would’ve been in Germany in 2006 (Soccer Worldchampionship), you would have seen what Germans can also be: one of the most open-minded, friendly and welcoming people I have ever met in my life.

    Stop all that hating, stop that stereotyping, and just start trying to be open-minded yourself.

  17. “”Cite:An American lady at my bank told me that every Summer her neighbours called the police when she had a small barbecue in her garden because of the smoke. They speak about Leben und leben lassed but they dont LIVE it and everything seems like a medium for criticism because they are simply intolerant.
    where i live in germany (kaiserslautern), the americans PREFER to live around germans. they don’t want to live around americans because they think americans are much ruder than the germans. in fact, some americans are even embarassed to be american. my coworker told me that in her street, where only americans live, the neighbours constantly call the police on each other just to mess with each other. alot of americans don’t like k town because of americans and rather stay around germans.
    on another note, i just came back from spain. “the spanish”‘ are just as grouchy and rude as “the french”, ”the americans” and the russians….

  18. @UsxPat: what a very well observed and perfectly formulated view on the German culture. It is spot on! I can only agree with that and I have lived here all my life. When I moved to the UK for a couple of years I was actually stunned at how friendly, helpful and polite those ppl are. I absolutely loved it and would go back in a heart beat if I could.
    @Daniela: face it, the man speaks the truth. You , being a German, just don’t want to see it.

  19. @Obviously: You say that “It’s basic sociology that you tend to become what others think of you”. Sorry but that’s not true. I met so many people who came to Germany with a positive image about German people and were very very disappointed after having lived there for a while. Not everyone has heard about negative stereotypes and ppl tend to buld their opinions on their experience and not on something they might have heard from others. Mentalities and cultures are different and my experience is also, that the vast majority of German people is rather cold, obedient to authority but dominating to others, negative and pessimistic. I have met some nice ones as well of course, but they are way harder to find than the grumpy, rude ones. I didnt have that experience in the UK though and I lived there long enough as well

  20. Germans ARE rude. Not all, but majority are. And not only did I observe this, but my German Friends agree. And by German I mean they are from Germany, not American Germans. However it is slowly changing to the better, it starts with younger people. Hence the cool German friends I have. And he’s right, Germans are sometimes even more harsh if you’re German as well, that’s not the first time I hear it.

    Let me add this: the affects of alcohol on German people

    Rudest German turns into the nicest person ever.

    British people, nice, rude, etc, turn into a total embarrassment to any society

    So….I’ll gladly party with Germans over Brits because Brits may go nuts and fight and they have this thing where they tell you if you fight Brits at a bar make sure you don’t fall, because that’s when they’d start to really hit you.

    Lets just get along for crying out loud. Glad I’m an American and we’re cool generally cool.

  21. Germans are not rude they’re just unfriendly, and it doesnt stress me out. What I’m so desperate about is the habbit of criticising others. every single day every single person every single work or program. no exception!! arrrrggghhhhhhhhhh

  22. I lived in Germany for about 6 years, and during that time, I have never once experienced any “German rudeness”. I felt very much at home in Germany, so much more so than the United States. They were always so kind, helpful and efficient. The worst I ever experienced in Germany was a little standoffishness, but that was very rare. My experience with the British was that they were extremely rude, as are the French, and a number of Norwegians; but the Swedes, Dutch, and Germans are nice and fine.

    It was a spritely Brit who didn’t offer his seat on a 5 minute shuttle bus to an exhausted pregnant lady with a small child, or the elderly man who were both standing.

  23. I’m glad I found this thread. I’ve only travelled through Franklin and Munich airports, never actually visited Germany. But even within the few hours spent I noticed this specific irritation.
    – I went to get some dessert at this little cafe in the airport. The german guy that runs the place had a blank unfriendly stare. Gave him the $20 bill and after handing me the cake he handed me a few euros in change. I was surprised it cost so much but he uttered with an emphatic and irritating tone: Euro is stronger than the dollar!
    How rude! When my dad went to get the same he got the same attitude but unlike me, he handed back the cake and asked for his money back.
    -Another time, more recently, walking through a security check point in Munich, it was confusing knowing wich line to stop in and stopped for a second only to hear this irritated voice, “keep walking sir!!!”
    I don’t know what their problem is, but it’s obious they’re irritated,, rude and stuck up!
    I know how people say europeans don’t have “face courtesy” they’re straight forward and only friendly to their friends. But then how does somebody make friends when they’re so rude? I guess you have to put up with this for weeks and months until the german realizes youre trustworthy enough to make friends? Come on guys, most friendly people are friendtly to everyone. That’s just the sad reality, europeans( and especially germans) are not as friendly and courteous as some other folks.

  24. Yeah, I do think Germans are really rude. Even my German friends bemoan the arrogance of German institutions and travelers, especially. However, I do sometimes wonder how this affects personal relationships….in any event, if you don’t have a thick skin and aren’t willing to be hurled insults at, don’t go to Germany for anything other than a two week, guided vacation in three to four star hotels. The reputation German have abroad is deserved, as is ours (American). They are, in many ways, as bad as other tourists and never fail to demonstrate what they feel their cultural superiority is.

  25. First of all I hope that some Germans are also reading this, they actually like being honest with people, so a few honest opinions and facts about them is always welcomed….or not?

    So far I have spent 1 year in Germany up to date, and my feelings are divided between good and hard core terrible.

    1. Food is really good and cheap.

    2. German Coca-Cola is not as good as in the UK or in Austria, but it’s amongst the better I had tasted. I don’t drink (I’m not a Muslim), so I would never be considered as an echte Deutscher even if I try, people here drink unimaginable amounts of alcohol in every occasion, and the smell coming from their mouth is sometimes a King of all bad smells put up together.

    3. Germans are usually polite on surface, but their pointless anger drive is always on stand-by, and it’s gets switched in no time, than they shine in their pure “light”. Self and everybody else destruction drive can be seen on the new years eve, when they simulate the WWIII with all the cheap-dangerous low quality Chinese pyrotechnic which leaves streets fullfiled with junk which actually never gets swept from the streets.

    4. As my work depends on meeting lot’s of people and a great communication is a must have, It was really dissapointing when I found Germans not to be accurate at all, (punktlich), maybe I had met two who are always on time, it’s usually me who waits wait for 10-15-20 minutes Working on a everyday basis with German people, I now question myself how I managed to believe in this ridiculous stereotype that they’re well organized and always on time, this is not the case when working with Americans or English, they’re always on time and very well organized.

    5. Germans are really honest and straight forwarded. They’re like me, and I like it a lot, no fuss and no wrapping it up… The only thing which stinks in the German way, is that it’s not a bidirectional communication. Germans like to say it all in your face, but they’re really offended every time when You do the same, so it’s not a straight forwardness and honesty, but a Hypocrisy.

    6. DB or the German rail is not accurate at all, even the ICE trains are late on everyday basis, not to mention DB Regio trains which timetable is just for illustrative purpose on most of the lines.

    7. Mineral Water is the best I have ever tried, Selters being my favorite.

    8. Modern Music from Germany is another ridiculousness in all of it’s glory, featuring a complete lack of sense, style, soul, talents and creativity. Actually that is the signature mark present in almost all of the German bands. In the past 35 years I’ve heard maybe 8 songs from Germany which are actually enjoyable – to tome level. It’s really funny, strange and scary how could a country which in the past had given so many extraordinary Classic musician to the world, nowadays cannot pull anything better than a generic 1/4 timebase pre kindergarten compositions poorly stuffed with pseudo adult lyrics about living on a Hartz, clouds, ground, underground…

    9. Driving on the German Autobahn, the other stereotype is that Germans are good drivers, they mostly are HORRIBLE DRIVERS. Putting the pedal onto the metal doesn’t mean that you’re a good driver, it actually means that you’re a jerk when you drive 220+ no matter of weather conditions on the road, so in Germany there is never a slow down – ice on road? 220+! Rain? 220+! Blizzard? 220+! On the other side of this stupidity is the lack of A/C units in the German apartments, when it’s hot in Germany that means that it’s hell in the apartment. because almost no one has A/C…it’s because Germans are “preserving” the Mother Earth not having those monstrous pollutants allowed in their homes knowing that they have gases released in the environment and consume lot’s of electricity adding greatly to the Greenhouse effect. There’s nothing wrong with that fact, except it’s a stupidity in the purest form. Cars on the autobahn going 220+ consume enormous amounts of gasoline, and release unbelievable amounts Co2 in the atmosphere, it’s calculated that car going 180+ Km/h actually helps the Greenhouse effect as the 11 standard 750w A/C units. A few times when I drove on the autobahn had to slow down or stop at the nearest parking lot because the cars which had overtaken me doing 250+ smelled so bad from the burning fuel mixed with the engine oil, and that smell goes on and for kilometers ahead.
    On the other hand driving in the cities and towns is another story, the whole network of German autobahns and roads are poorly signed with usually confusing and not well positioned road signs, most streets in urban areas lack of any road signs, so the rule of the right hand is mostly in use, it was certainly very good solution for the means of traffic in the 1813, but not in the 2013.

    10. German bureaucracy, do I have to say anything about it? It’s junk of all junks with workers constantly on Urlaub and under the stress because they do not have more Urlaubs. System is completely useless at some points, in Germany you need at least 2-3 months for some paper work which in other EU countries exactly the same task takes 2-3 days. Ausgezeichnet!

    11. Germany has the greatest number of inventors, inventors who invented it all It’s something that I have heard so many times from Germans mouth. It’s true that Germany has recorded many successful scientist and inventors during the last 200 years, but the other side of truth is that most of the German inventors were actually JEWS, Jews who were born or immigrated in Germany. ~90% of German scientist and inventors . And you tried to extinct them, it’s ridiculous.

    12. I like the Ritter Sport, one of the best chocolates in the world!

    13. German women – ouch, usually a rude Helgas, musculate smelly sailors trapped in a womans body. Not exciting at all, as it may sound to some wierdos reading these. I agree that there are some really nice girls, but it’s a rarity, rare rarity.

    14. I noticed one interesting thing around here, it seems that the best mannered Germans, Germans who actually act as a people with soul and not some shit tattooed, overly pierced funny six packs robot/in ready to terminate whatever moves just because it moves are the actually – BINGO! The fat Germans! It’s true, might seem ridiculous as it sounds but as the native German is fatter, it’s more approachable, more serious about the job he is doing, and much more human in every way than the generic copy+paste German/Helga guy. On the other end, a fat German is unfortunately again a rare rarity, because Germans like spending most of their free time in Fitness studios on the 5th floor of some commie block like High Street building with huge glass panels giving free views of their sweaty bodies doing repetitive Ubungen on and on for hours. A real enjoyment when you walk down the street for shopping and eating your Pizza, Curry Würst, Bretzel, Pfannkuchen, China Box or some delicious pastry from Havelbäcker or some other delicious family baker, and the first association you got when you look up there is not healthy lifestyle, but a mixture of different smells that dwells there.. Maybe there is a hope because just the other day I saw the fat lady cycling, sweating and eating cheeseburger at the same time.

    15. German Television – 10+ for ridiculousness. The only good TV channel I found is DMAX which consists of 99% American/English TV shows synchronized in German. Everything else is a flat line between boredom and emptiness. German “comedy” shows deserving the special place in this category. Other forms of Art in Germany are also completely freed from any glitch of creativity and soul – Poetry, Painting, Theater, Opera, Cartoons, everything looks and tastes like a heavily processed Toast Cheese in the discounter store.

    16. I found the German architecture from the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th Century to be very, very beautiful.

    17. Dear Germans, you always say that you have learned your lections from the history, but you did not – it’s a lie. Nowadays even in the simplest things it always has to be your, and only your way, even if You know that you made a mistake, it must be your way or no way. So, deep or not so deep inside of the majority of hearts there is an omnipresent belief that the WWII was not your fault. Can’t full me on this one.

    18. Many times here I have heard that Ausländers are guilty for your personal misery and problems, it’s so ridiculous and stupid The sad fact of the German country is that on your own, without the Ausländers, you would not be able to maintain your current economical output for a single week, and in a matter of months you would sink into a league of the 3rd world countries. Ausländers are giving far more to your country than your country compensates

    19. You would NEVER get rid of Ausländers, there is nothing you can do about it, as the future of Deuschland depends on the immigration from other parts of Europe-World.

    20. German language – a piece of cake if you really want to learn it properly. My mother language is much harder, with extremely hard grammar rules, so I became a fluent speaker in less than 5 months, and really got that hard raw Deutscher accent right. Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror talking to myself, enjoying how my face unintentionally changes to the yet undiscovered, sometimes scary facial expression when raising voice a bit. It’s a good practice for the streets, because when a rude German/Helga bumps into you without saying sorry, being furious because of your existence as an obstacle on his/his glorious path, he would be flashed with the battery from the rich Deutscher arsenal of wishes. Beating Deutscher in is own game is the sign of an properly naturalised Ausländer.

    21. Let’s not forget dear Germans that your country is directly responsible for the deaths of 50 million people in the second world War, the other side of that sad story is that you’re also directly guilty for giving a chance to such a diabolical system like a Communism, which would be never introduced in Europe if you did not screw things up with your “Let’s conquer the world” idea. Thank you for returning almost half of the Europe in dark ages for almost 50 years, while the West Germany was built from American, English, French and other sources of money from all around the planet.

    22. Which brings us to another really sad situation. I really do not understand how did you think that you could conquer the whole world, no matter how advanced and how much money you have got? German people were not better educated nor they were better well-of between the two world wars than today. And nowadays, with all of the technology available and information power, Germans look more clueless than ever. It’s a nation of “reality”, where dreams does not exist nor imagination show it’s presence even on the smallest level, it’s a nation of flat lined thinking and robotic movements, something that can not in any way be normal for a human being.

    I hope that I was direct enough, If it hurts, it hurts because it’s true. And when truth hurts, it’s not the Ausländers fault.

    Have a nice day!

  26. Hallo Jan

    I came across your article as I typed in a phrase to get to understand why I am constantly surrounded with people who are unfriendly and in a bad mood in Berlin, where I am temporarily staying. I am familiar with German as my father is German (although he not been living here for 50 years). I am from South Africa and have had a difficult time in Berlin due to the fact that I find that there is a serious lack of generosity in this place. Interestingly enough, the home events to which I have been invited have always been by English speaking people. I am not sure whether it is rudeness or what it is, but generally I find that the key elements that are lacking in a contemporary German society are: generosity and a lack of grace. The example of the suitcases is so apt. I am not a very tall person and have had to cart heavy luggage with me (due to the fact that I am here for 6 months and travelled a lot). Nobody would ever think of helping me pick up the cases to ease my way into the bus, for example, and when people do, they are not German. Last night I was at the theatre and my seat was in the middle of the row. I thus had to pass by some people who had to stand up in order for me to pass. This has happened to me many time before where I had to give way to people and I always do it with a smile. Well…last night one “gentleman” told me in no uncertain terms how annoying he found it….as if it was my fault that the ticket was reserved for the middle. It was still 5 minutes before the start of the show and as I do not know the seating in this theatre, I had no idea that it was in the middle. Instead, this man could have gallantly stood up and with a smile let me through. That would have made my day and would not have done anything to him. Instead it pleased him more to drag me into his misery. In South Africa people battle with many problems: poverty, crime, aids, adapting to new systems, disillusion and many more and yet you always see people smile or be helpful. I therefore do not buy the excuse of the Euro crisis or anything like that. The language is also not an excuse. I am Afrikaans speaking, which is also a very harsh and defined language. Afrikaans speaking people are however, known for their friendliness. It is a shame, as I hold many things in Germany in high esteem (especially their dedication ot the arts and theatre, which is my field of practice) and have also met some very friendly German individuals (but they are really in the minority). As a foreigner one does not have time to find those friendly individuals. One generally responds to the social climate and that social climate is not one of reaching out and letting people feel welcome.

  27. Hello All

    I am Australian and have travelled to quite a few countries and loved the cultures and experiences of every one….except Germany and, in particular, Berlin. We stayed there for two days, and to my mind, two days too long! I have never been so rudely spoken to by such a wide variety people! Well, to be honest, I have never been spoken to or pushed about by ANY people as I was when in Berlin. The Chinese of Hong Kong were polite and accommodating, the French were polite and helpful, the English were polite and civilized – but the Germans were consistently rude and bossy! I simply cannot understand their attitude. Most people throughout the world have the attitude that if you don’t know someone you don’t act like they are your enemy….this does not seem to be the attitude of Germans. I am not a difficult person, I am an optimistic, easy-going person and believe that you treat people as you would like to be treated yourself…Not so the German people with whom I had contact with in Germany.

    I will never intentionally return to Germany again.


  28. hello Jan,
    I am living in Germany since last 4 years now and i feel sorry to say that i cant agree with you more…. there are so many nice and positive sides of Germany that i absolutely love.. however this rudeness has killed them all.. sometime they even realize how rude they are…often i sit in my room and tears come out of my eyes just because of the extent of rudeness i faced here… here is some of my experiences of german rudeness just based on language problems.. i was so humiliated that i wrote my feelings down….

    how much rudeness can u tolerate before u eventually break down?.. i was cornered and humilated in my own institute today by three elderly ladies just taking advantage of the fact that i cannot speak or understand German language so good like them…I went to them to ask for help.. what i got in return was shouts, bad behaviour and blames that this is my problem not theirs!!!!!!!!!

    my group members came to know about this later and told me that i should not have gone alone for help…

    now i really wonder, is it that bad here that i cannot even ask for some help from another member of the same institute where I work… and the institute is called Max Planck Institute which is a ‘so-called INTERNATIONAL organization for research’!!!!!!!!!

    the German Ministry of external affairs for people outside Europe (Auslander amt) drove me to my threshold and made me break down.. because apparently in the foreign ministry there is no one who speaks a little bit english or is willing to…

    there are 2 Turkish guys at the registration desk (Anmeldung)… there u have to show your documents and if everything is alright they give u the ticket to meet the senior officer…
    One time, there was something missing.. i had no idea what.. the Turks were shouting at me in German… I repeated few times –” Sorry, ich verstehe nicht so gut Deutsch (sorry, i dont understand German very good).. What followed was unexpected!!! the guy closed my file, threw it away on his side.. shook hid head from left to right and told me ”kein Englisch”..(no English) then he looked away at the queue behind me and shouted nächte bitte” (next please)……

    I was so shocked and helpless that tears came out of my eyes uncontrollably…. i didnt even had to try..

    it has been at fight since the time i arrived here… a fight to get what i want, a fight for my mere existance… i am done.. really done now and very tired….with colourful dreams in my eyes i had set on a journey to see the World,, to visit as many countries as possible…and i had always this in the mind that ‘no matter what, i shall always keep trying and i shall be successful to get a place in people’s heart)!!!

    since months i had been going with my coleagues and other groups to the mensa (canteen) together for lunch.. but as soon as they sit down with their plates at the table its miserable for us (the non-germans)…. they start and keep speaking in german nonstop for 1 to 1.5 hours without giving a damn at people like me who is sitting there in silence just eating…. sometimes, i looked at them and they looked back but nothing changes… they couldnt even figure out from the blanck expression in my eyes that i understood abosultely nothing!!! after months of those sad episodes i decided to quit going to the mensa.if people have no consideration for me, what the hell am i doing there?

    here I am sad to say i failed… i failed miserably… and i am tired of trying.. i am tired of working like a slave day and night… i am tired of impressing the people by trying my best to speak in german, to understand german… i am tired of listening to the same phrase ”du müss lerne Deutsch” (you MUST learn German) from the old people everywhere i go– in the bakery, in the shops or cafe…. oh my goodness…trying to explain them every time why is my german skill still not good …. ich möchte Deutsch lernnen (i want to learn German) but how?? who can convince my boss to let me go 2 to 4 times a week to attend German classes… who shall do my experiments and take responsibility of my work so that i can dissapear 4 hours everyday to learn german. Do they know that German govt. pays me a butt load of money every month and there want to see progress in return… more research, more publications and more business… who shall take care of these.. can anybody answer me??

    but no, the story doesnt end here.. then they shall say what about weekends?? they are free…. If it would have been possible to show them 1 day of my life then they could have seen i work like a horse every single day.. no weekends for me.. and when i am not working in the lab i am doing my second job which is working at football stadium for 10 hours nonstop during games….

    infact because now i have some time now and work is relaxed, i have started attending german lessions that too after a fight with my boss…. (he is probably the only German who didnt want me to learn german and instead wanted me to concentrate on my research)… but i was adamant and told him that i wanted to and finally he gave in….however i am so scared that i didnt even tell people that i am leraning german. as soon as they shall come to know they shall start speaking in german with me and i shall stand there like an idiot…

    My fear came true at my doctor few weeks before.. i went there with a lot of pain in my stomach (i have chronic gastritis).. and i dont know why the secreatries/ receptionists are always stupid… there was a young girl of my age at the desk and i started in english.. ofcourse she switched to german so i did also… but after fews sentences i couldnt understand her anymore… so i said politely ” excuse me but ich kann spreche nur drei oder vier satze… das was” (sorry but i can speak only 3 to 4 sentences in german and dats all i can)… she replied to me in german– ” no no u speak very good bla bla” and said a thousand words which i have no clue about…. anyways i saw the doctor… and he wrote me a prescription and came out with me to the door.. we were speaking in english when this receptionist interrupted and told the doctor ”’ why r u speaking in english.. speak in german”’..

    what i thought about this girl at that moment is not writtable here beacuse it might cross the limit of decency… but its incredible that when i am almost unconscious becoz of my pain that i have to keep speaking german and understand them even if i have no clue… for once i decided to go back and ask her– ”will u be able to the same if u were in my position”?. but then like i said… i have already given up and after years of trying and fighting i am really tired now…

    i am sorry germany that i failed to impress u or ur people , to come closer to u.. its a big pitty but i tired my best and this is my limit…

    i know writing here is no solution…. but my anger has to go off somhow and somewhere…. …..even though sharing calms me down there is no point sharing my problems with these people here becoz they shall not understand…. i just wanted to get to get this huge burden off my shoulders (its really too much for me)… and this is the best choice i had..

    ich bin fix und fertig!!!!!!!

  29. I am an American living and married to a German for over 13 years. Yes, they are a rude group, so rude to include my soon to be ex husband, that I can not take it any more and am ready to get out of here. Being polite and respectful is seen as being weak. I am sick of giving them a taste of their own medicine, because it is so out of character for me. I truly believe the society has some major issues, two world wars lost, a country and its people divided by a wall for over 30 years…..

    I do believe learning the language is necessary for survival and even that is a challenge!..

  30. @USxPat

    Yes, I agree totally. Underlying German social ethics is not the principle of “fair play” as we know it from the Anglosphere, whereby somebody in a weaker position would be cut some slack and offered help, but rather the very opposite of this, what the Germans themselves refer to as, “Das Recht des Stärkeren” (“The right of the stronger”). Once one understands this, the treatment that one receives from shop assistants, doctor’s assistants, petty bureaucrats, et.c. becomes fully comprehensible, since in these social situations there is an unspoken hierarchical principle at work which can be characterized along the following lines: You, as a patient, customer, citizen at the Bürgeramt, et.c. are first and forement a supplicant and are to be treated as such. You are to be deferential to those whose task should be to serve you. Want some further evidence for this (aside from your own experiences)? As a customer, you are the one who has to say “Guten Tag” when you enter a shop, doctor’s practice, et.c. not them (and note how if you don’t say it they won’t first say it to you. Likewise, you are the one (who is paying, incidentally for this “privilege”) that has to thank them when you leave the shop, et.c. When you dine out, you are the one who has to take your plate away, not them, even though they are the one’s enjoying the benefit – financially – of your custom. And woe betide anybody that does anything to displease such service providers, the good old German “Zurechtweisung” (telling-off) will follow very quickly.

    When I first arrived in Germany in 2003, I couldn’t understand why the Germans tolerate such appalling customer service (or rather complete lack thereof). It only became clearer to me once I started to realize that there is an intense and unspoken hierarchy to German society, such that service providers are higher up the hierarchical chain since they constitute authority figures and, as we all know from our own experiences in the country, deference before authority is still very solidly anchored in that society. It is just not the done thing to confront doctor’s receptionists, shop assistants, insurance brokers, et.c. because you are just a citizen and they are something more powerful than you. A wonderful chestnut I hear all the time is how direct the Germans are. This principle extends only insofar somebody is on the same hierarchical level as you. As soon as a German is dealing with somebody in a position of more authority/responsibility they suddenly go very quiet and dare not say boo to a goose. As USxPat says, this is a fundamentally cowardly response and is at odds with more freer societies whose members are more courageous, individualistic and , as a consequence, self-confident citizens. The frustration that gets created by such deference has to come out somewhere and, you’ve guessed it, it comes out – just like with all bullies – on those lower down the power chain (in whatever terms that might be cased out in).

    German society is a perfect example of a “kiss up, kick down” social structure and it is this, more than anything else, that accounts for the inordinate amount of unnecessary nastiness between its citizens.

  31. Today these comments really helped me to get back to feeling sane. I have been living in Germany for two months and I find it just very strange here. It is like a paradox. So many Germans I have met, including all my neighbours, are just wonderful, friendly, kind people. Helpful and lovely. Then there are the others. I really don’t understand why these others behave in such disgustung and nasty ways. We have encountered several of these rude jerks in our everyday life, but I think today I met the kind of Germans some of these comments talk about. I was walking by a little second hand store and saw some dishes in the window that match the set I collect. What luck, I thought. Boy, was I wrong. As soon as I walked in, the sales woman ran up to me waving her arms and shouting at me, “AUS, AUS!!!!” “Warum?” I asked, only to be met by more waving, shouting and dirty looks. My German is not perfect, but good enough to ask is this a store? Are these things for sale? Are you open right now? to all of which questions she said yaaaa with much waving and eye rolling. When can I come back and look at these dishes I asked. In response some big guy joined her and waved me out of the store in an aggressive manner. Then the big hulk got into his car with his incredibly bitchy wife and they tore out of the parking spot leaving dust and a couple of terrified dogs behind. The sales woman stomped back inside. Here is the strange thing, I am a reasonably attractive woman in my 40’s, I am European, my nationality is not recognizable, I could be French, German, Swiss, no one can ever tell. I am slim, very clean, I dress in a tidy manner, have good hair, skin, teeth and nails – I know I sound a bit strange describing myself, but I am at a loss for words at this disgusting treatment. I can just imagine what she must be like to anyone out of the ordinary. I’m just saying that I am a quiet, unassuming woman going about politely and minding my own business, so I am at a loss why I would be attacked like this. I am a teacher (after 20 years I still remain friends with some of my students and their families), I have travelled widely and lived in many different places including Canada, my husband is a scientist and we are a friendly, quiet family. I was actually on my way to pick up my little daughter from school when I stopped at the store. Besides wanting to buy the dishes I wanted to ask if I could donate good articles if the store was a charity, it looked like it was attached to a church. Never got the chance to ask that. I was very upset actually, wanted to rant and found this forum. It really helped. Since living here we find most German people to be kind and friendly, but the other 20% or so are real pieces of work, scary, maladjusted freaks, I’m sure they spoil it for everyone. Any ideas about this store person? Has this happened to anyone else? English people were always terrific and I very much want to go back there to live.

  32. I came across this website as I have been living in Germany for close to two years. I am in a unique situation because I am American and married to a Turkish man. I did not know much about modern Germany when I came here and have to say I was shocked and disappointed as negative experiences began to pile up. Not only related to myself personally but also to the experiences of being with Turkish people in Germany and what they go through as ‘foreigners’. As I have searched the Internet for answers one blog I came across said basically ‘the way Germans act is a game and a way to get out frustrations etc when you intentionally bump into others or are rude to others’. I was very offended by that particular blog. And as such very happy to have found this one. I am glad to know that what I have experienced is not necessarily an over reaction or over sensitivity to the culture and behavior of not all, but many Germans. I find it a sad state of affairs when I am shocked and taken aback when someone does smile at me, treat me kindly, or accommodatingly. I don’t think in this day and age there should be any excuses for the behavior of many Germans. The world is an open place now and being, in general, well educated, German people should have a better sense of grace and respect for others, regardless of if you know them personally or not. I am finding it hard to want to learn German because of the unwelcomed response I receive daily. I know that is counter intuitive, but its the truth. In meeting a few kind Germans I always ask about these interactions I have. The response is usually ‘these people are uneducated, unworldly persons’. This does not fulfill my need for an explanation. When I go out I hardly ever feel relaxed, shopping is like going to war, walking down the street can be treacherous, and asking for help only makes me feel more helpless when I get a non-positive response. I myself am more than half German in ancestry so coming here was also interesting to me from that perspective. I wish I could say it was not a let down. The level of difficulty is magnified when I am with my husband or family, who are Turkish. There are places we don’t go, won’t go, and feel we can’t go. As an American I am very disheartened by this. In some ways it is easy to see why many Turks and other immigrants close them selves off, don’t learn German, and stick to their own people in this country, not that they have much of a choice though either. Especially in terms of housing. It makes me rethink the way I am in my own country with those who maybe don’t speak the best of English or are newly arrived immigrants. I will have alot more grace with these individuals when I return to America. And yes, we will be going back. The first time I traveled back there after being here a year, it was like I could finally breath again. Seems so sad to me. I am not saying America is perfect, it is not, by any stretch of the imagination. I just feel lost here, caught between three cultures and peoples, surrounded by many, but having none.

  33. I’ve lived in Wilmersdorf for the past three years and I’m just blown away with how miserable people are around here. I’ve lived in big cities all over the world but I’ve never seen it quite like this: people muttering to themselves, yelling at little dogs, arguments etc. Now I know that people are essentially the same wherever, but I can’t help thinking that many Germans struggle with the concept of happiness coming from within – rather there seems to be a tendency to think that personal unhappiness is automatically somebody else’s fault. I know this a common human delusion, but I’ve never seen people so itching to off at one another over anything – like they have hair triggers. There are elderly people people, in particular, around here who will go out of their way to find fault. I feel like a psychiatric nurse around here some days.

  34. 4 Years living experience in Germany. They are rude in many ways. When you are asking help in the streets the first act they do its reject you to follow their rule. ( even clinic)
    I really do not understand it. Being friendly to them half of time get only a stone throw back. After many years, I still can not get this art of living.

  35. I totally disagree. Germans may be rude to some extent but the Dutch surpass them by 100 procent! I live in the city of Enschede near the German border and notice the very polite and respectful behaviour from Germans. There are diffences in the Netherlands like in the more urban West (Randstad) people are way more rude than in the south, east and north. I my region of Twente in the East of the Netherlands we also have a little bit a sorry culture certainly compared to people in the west. Many people in the Non Western parts also dont like those Westerners because of their big mouth and arrogant behaviour calling the rest farmers (or think they are altourgh there as citys of 200000 over there). Never seen such people also not in Denmark or further. So in order of rudeness English (not rude at all)… Germans (normal ‘rude’)………………………….. Dutch (aso/rude) !!

    You say we Dutch are straigtforward we are bu

  36. Absolutely fascinating!
    I am a student in NZ, and was wondering why the German students are just so RUDE!
    Especially, the female variety. Everything is fine – until … they say something. And then they wonder why everyone runs from them!
    I am drawn by the poor story of the fellow PhD student here – who is obviously doing research at Max Planck. What a shocker.

    I’m old school Kiwi. If I had to sit in a line, and then get told by some beurocrat at the end of it – well – I’d probably just thump them.
    When I grew up, before multiculturalism, the enemy was the Hun. The only good German, was a dead German. We have monuments all over NZ to the Grateful Dead of two world wars. Seriously, rude Germans, do not play with old school anglo-kiwis, it will not go well! Johnny Turk isn’t much better. Ironic combination – no?

    My take on the Office, well. Mind games and power struggles equal deceit. Deceit implies treachery … and before you know it … you find the odd German here slipping into that mindest – and they usualy correct themselves with a start. Heirachies fail here.
    We will expect it, we will tolerate it, but at some point – we will screw you for it. A sense of fair play is vital.

    As for the poor people here having trouble, I suggest that you learn some Russian language skills. Just a few sentences.
    Nothing, and I mean nothing petrifies most Germans as much as someone shouting at them in Russian! I doo like the Russians!

    As for Kiwis, most Germans think we are the dumb version of the British (we even had the same passports till recently), but we are only the ‘black sheep’ of the family. Once they find out that you are from Neu Zeeland they usually warm. Same with the French – but never trust a Frenchie.

    So, be warned. If you push us We We will make Nazi salutes, raise the issue of the war to your face (I do this) and will instigate trouble, or even ask if 6 million is the right number. I can’t publish some of the things I have said!
    Maybe my blazing attitude comes from the old school, where the only way to deal with a Hun is to engage them in confrontation. Fight or flight. The power struggle of the German mind requires mindless subserviance. It doesn’t usually function well when pushed into new territories.

    As for rudeness, it is never a good idea. In fact, Kiwis are usually sooo polite, that it is seen by Germans as weakness. It isn’t, it is a protection mechanism to prevent an incident. NZers are bad, as they will never say something up front, we just won’t call you back. It keeps people guessing.

    Think I’m a bit whacky and up front. Sure. Just don’t tread on me! Been there – done that. NZ is a small place. You don’t piss off your neighours. The Germans haven’t figured out that Europe is a small place either. 🙂

  37. hmm… So much negative comments! my rant that I wanted to spell out here now seems complements! Well, I am canadian and recently have spent time in germany as a visitor, twice, each time 2 weeks. My take? They definitely are not polite bunch! In the best, they are upfront in your face nation! Just imagine if you all of sudden remove all the little acts which greases the human communications to ease off all the edges. Well, that is lacking in Germany! I spent the time only in Hamburg, but seems it the same everywhere. My personal experiences which stood out are driving habits! So here’s the advice, if you are driving, be quick, be sharp, get out others lane if you see a car is approaching you in rear view mirror, and most of all totally ignore horns and dirty looks!! IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT most of the time. I have driven on autoban for a couple of days going from north to south of germany. I love the limitless speed limit 🙂 sure, cars zab by you in +200k speed, but interestingly, I have not seen even a single accident after driving easily 2000 kilometers in germany! so something must be working. So, for some reason I feel at home there, but I can understand why most foreigners, especially coming for western origin, would be totally taken by the experience of visiting/living in Germany. It is a vey hierarchical socienty in its core, so if you stand your ground in any matter, you seem to usually get what you deserve! and do NOT ingore rudeness! just stand even stronger your ground!! That usually does it and get them off your back!! and yes! ignore all the fingering you receive when you’re on the road! haha

  38. Hey guys.

    This is an interesting post. I’m an Aussie living in Hamburg, Germany at the moment and I have had a similar experience. I try to not let it get to me. For those of you who have been to Australia, in terms of social life it is probably the opposite of Germany. We are a very slow nation and we don’t take anything seriously.

    I already have one year experience in Germany because I came here on a holiday visa in 2011. It helps a lot because I now understand more about the structure and mentality of German life.

    I find myself in Germany constantly having to stay in my bubble, to not let the people around me bring me down. I feel heaps (lots) of negative energy being pushed towards me on a daily basis. I find it difficult to deal with the rudeness sometimes. For example, I was walking along the street in the middle of Hamburg the other day and an older lady stopped and told me I had to walk on the RIGHT side of the footpath, not the left. “Immer rechts!”, she screamed. I was totally taken aback and couldn’t understand why there are rules for walking. I walk the way I want! If I feel like walking through the streets backwards, on rollerblades, in a clown suit, then I will! I work in a bar here in Hamburg and I deal with Germans on a daily basis. “Bitte” is equivalent to “Please” in English, but nobody uses it. When someone orders a beer its “Ein Beer”. I’m not a robot! And also, when I go to a bar on my night off and I want to get served, nobody moves out of the way to give me room in the bar. Its almost as if I don’t exist at all. HALLO! And then I ask politely for them to make some room and they scowl at me as if I offended them. In Perth, Australia, where I am from, if we are waiting in a bar to be served and the bartender looks at us, we make sure the person to our left and right have been served first before we even ask for a drink. Its just common politeness to acknowledge the people around you, especially in a bar.

    I think the reason for this has a lot to do with the history, but I also find Hamburg a very capitalistic city. I feel a hierarchy system here that is much greater than in Australia. In Australia we don’t even have a system, we are all middle class, and money doesn’t separate one person from the next. Its just the way it is here. Its a rat race and people find it harder to trust others. There are many beautiful things about Germany and many things I love about the people here, but being in public here does’t feel very nice. I don’t get the whole “friendly” “we are all in this together” vibe.

    However, I don’t want to get all negative because I am living here and I chose to live here because I do enjoy the European lifestyle, its just very different to Australia. In some ways better, in some ways worse.

    Heres the techniques I use to get through negative vibes in Germany

    1. I always walk my own pace, regardless of those behind me
    2. I also say “Bitte” and “Danke” when ordering or purchasing products
    3. I make an effort to smile!
    4. I listen to relaxing music while on public transport and I don’t STARE at other people, I keep to myself
    5. I don’t take life too seriously
    6. And most important, I try not to generalise, every single person is different

    I think counteracting negative energy with more negative energy just increases the problem. Negative vibes spread like wild fire so be careful! Always block it! If someone has a problem with you then that their problem.

    And thats all I have to say.

    Thanks for reading and check out my blog if you have a chance.


    Ray the Australian

  39. Wow, the hatred on this site… I’m Australian by birth but have been living in Germany for just over a year, in Hamburg to be precise, and have no intention of moving home any time soon. The Germans I have met since arriving here are nothing but lovely. Yes, there are some things that take getting used to. There is a way of doing things, – only one way and this is the right way so god help you if you do it wrong, but usually this ‘right’ way is also logical and simple. For example, ray’s waking on the right… The whole walking on the right is just an extension of the drive on the right. Saves people who aren’t paying attention (earphones in, on phone, little kids) from walking into each other. In Australia people generally walk on the left for this very reason, we just don’t notice it coz we’re used to it.
    Rudeness in Germans is mostly just because they don’t suffer fools gladly. If you ask for help they will give it, but walk in like you own the joint/know exactly what you’re doing and fail, and they will make sure you know about it. Try to do anything official without a meldebstätigung? Come back another day when you have everything and stop wasting my time. Arrive straight off the plane with nothing but a passport and could you please help me register? No worries, you need this, this, this, and you might not but it wouldn’t help to get this too, and make sure you take them to every official appointment you have. Standing behind someone with a full trolley at penny when all you want is a coke? Here, you go first. Everyone at every shop, from the checkout chick at netto to the receptionist for the wohngesellschaft always wishes a good day at the end. Ironically, the worst customer service I’ve had since I got here was dealing with the australian embassy and the ATO. I’ve found the Germans to be sticklers for rules and generally not flexible, but if you’re polite to them they’ll help you get what you need.

  40. I am German, but mobed to the US when I was pretty young and nowadays only go back to Hamburg to visit once a year. I think nobody doubts that there are many lovely people in Germany, but I absolutely agree that the overall atmosphete/mood is exactly as described in most of the posts above. I have recently lived in South America, and it is unfortunate, but Germany is just not a happy and colorful place. Btw, I died laughing when I read the post from usxpat and especially his comments about women. They’re all 5 point women with 10 point woman attitude.

  41. @Raymond Uhe I just wanted to say thanks for the post. Had I wanted to respond directly to this article, I imagine what I would have written would be quite similar. I’ve been living in Germany for seven years now. I recently told a friend that in the beginning, I found the curmudgeonly ways of Germans charming as they were so different from the American way. However, I feel like tolerance may be seen as a bucket of sorts, and after several years of living here, my bucket for tolerating rude encounters is overflowing. It helped so much to read your suggestions for coping with these cultural differences. Thanks a bunch.

  42. Agree with the thread. One example to point out is the arrogant walk on the right side to keep from bumping into each other…or you could just look where you are going like e rest of the world and see those other things as people and not obstacles. Ironically, bumping into each other is no problem when it’s really a shove. It’s not an efficiency thing; it’s an arrogant rude thing.

    They even bring it with them to other countries. Here in America, I was in a bar standing where a German girl wanted to be and she just shoved me. I didn’t know her and only found out later she was German. Turns out I was standing in front of the sign up board for the pool tables. Heavens to Betsy.

  43. I got abused by German students due to something totally not my business. Looks like when they feel bad they will find someway to release their anger. They call me stupid and I didnt say anything back because I will feel depressed to say things like that. I have read alot comments above. I dont think Germans behavior and rules in their own country is wrong. But if German people work, study in another country, a good idea is try to respect others’ culture. It is an international recognized “rule” when people travel to other countries. I am from China, when I arrived UK, I received text msg from Chinese embassy that tells me respect local rules and cultures and wish me nice journey.
    But some German colleague in my university they just think they are still in Germany. If they dislike a lecturer, they will chatting and playing their phone. When someone try to say please pay attention to the teacher, they will go rude….

    Anyway this is not stereotype, just some experience from my live. I enjoy make friends 🙂

    Zhang from Beijing

  44. I’m what would be called from a multicultural background: Arabic anf German living in the UK for nearly 2 decades. Sad really, how anecdotal incidents lead to generalization of a whole country. I could give examples of the US, France, the UK and yes Germany that are so rude and downright terrible whilst at the same time experiencing gestures off kindness and compassionate. My feeling is that ignorance and nastiness is everywhere and usually the flipside of the coin is there as well should you choose to want to see it. Germany is in the end like any other country – and I hate to point it out: you don’t like it, well, it’s a free world, just leave and don’t go back I would suggest.

  45. Why are Germans thinking about being rude? Do You All want to be Just A Coarse-Face? If all of you deviate from Universalism, there is much more to fear from the world than you expect.

  46. My mother born in the 1930’s is originally from the northern part of Germany. I am in my mid fifties and have a terrible relationship with my mother. She is domineering and hurts those where it hurts the most- she will try hard to destroy those closest to her, including her third husband who is also German. He fights back by quietly domineering her, and making her very unhappy in return. My mother bickers, complains, never apologizes, criticizes, and she always has to be right, behind closed doors. Nobody would assume this as she hides who she really is. Her image and her material belongings, is most important to her. People are finally finding out the truth about her and her unstable marriage. Her brother, also German was easy going as I remember, and he and his wife too did not like my mother! I think my mother is the stereotypical German and very often there can be some truths! My half sisters also had a German mother who was awful too to them, and to me when I was a child. The grown children eventually disowned her- just like I have with my own German mother due to horrendous circumstances in 2014, which was the last straw for me. Perhaps some of the older Germans have some major issues, and are not very stable. I think things are changing for the better with the newer generation, with no major wars, and of course, one has to realize that when the Euro zone was created, countries like Germany are now becoming more multicultural and diverse.

  47. @Ivan
    5. Scolding others while not liking getting scolded is not limited to Germany; it’s a human condition.
    9. The reason they rarely use A/C is the climate. Most of Germany is further to the north than the US. Plus, electricity costs more, so they use less of it.
    11. Countries don’t attempt to kill people; people kill people. Other countries are guilty of the same crime as well.
    My two cents.
    P.S. Some of the other commenters should really stop the hateful generalisations. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. GROW UP!

    Ah, it’s refreshing to see an intelligent, rational comment in a plethora of of troll-like generalisations. Such conditions can apply anywhere.

  48. @Jenny
    Well sorry you got harassed by the German lady on the bar, but don’t use a confirmation bias like this, especially since that girl could have been another nationality as well, even American. I’m saying that each country has its rude people.
    As for the walking on the right, read what Alanna wrote.

  49. @Amy
    Sorry to hear about your troubles. You stayed there for four years, and you couldn’t make a friend? Try again. Or visit another part of Germany. I’ve never been there, but one cannot generalise from an anecdotal incident like what happened. Again. sorry to hear about your misfortune.

  50. @Tonya
    It’s usually not a good idea to smile at strangers. Germans usually smile towards family members and close friends. Maybe you just had a bad experience. Sorry to hear about that.

  51. @Jill
    Don’t give up too easily. Study the culture a little, learn the language, and treat them with respect. Maybe then you might have a better time. Sorry about your experience.
    I’ve never been to Germany, but if you still refuse, then just don’t go.

  52. @M. White
    Was he mistreating you? If not, then don’t divorce. Ask him what’s considered polite and what’s not. Please read about cultural differences before lumping all Germans as rude. Sure, some are, the same way some Americans are too.
    But if yes, then sorry.

  53. I don’t intend to come off as rude myself. I’ve never been to Germany before, but these generalisations are unacceptable, especially since many others (not in this site, of course) have had positive experiences. If your experiences were negative, well, sorry to hear that, but maybe you should ask any tourists/expats with positive experiences and learn how they were successful.
    This article fails to explain the cultural differences between the UK and Germany. These blog posts should give us an explanation:
    Even Quora seems to disagree with the stereotype:
    To make a long story short, I feel this is clickbait-y yellow journalism.
    Jan, you should probably re-read what you wrote before you start another flame war.
    My €0,02

  54. It is very difficult to deal with swabian in laws.
    They don’t like expressing affection and tend to be critical.
    I gave up on trying to please them when I am feeling lonely, empty and hopeless. Distance and acceptance is the only way to remain sane. I don’t want to integrate in this country. I just want to leave forever and avoid Germans from now on.

  55. I’m in a choir at my church, and one of our new members is very pushy. We don’t expect her to be perfect (and she’s not!) but she seems to hover, making sure our music is in order, bringing arm loads of new music she wants us to learn and do, and nagging us to learn them. One day at practice when she was sitting next to me, she was behaving like I was not competent enough to organize my my own music….supercilious is the word that comes to mind, when I think of her…I looked directly at her and said, “You’re German, aren’t you!” She said proudly that she was, from several generations, and decided from then on to sit somewhere else, which is fine with me. Where did my ire come from? I’m in my DNA 82% Great Britain, and really don’t like to be bossed. Iam patient with people, and find some imperfections charming and sometimes inspiring of creativity. I felt a bit guilty over my response to her, so decided to investigate the German culture. How interesting to find other people feel the way I do. Patience with her behavior I believe will not even be noticed or appreciated, but I must be true to MY nature and will continue to make an effort.

  56. I have been living in Germany for about 8 or 9 months now, and a lot of these comments are absolutely spot on. I came here from the US, having heard of none of these “negative stereotypes,” (I actually heard nothing but good things of Germans), thus arriving with an open mind.. Once I got settled in and started working here, I started experiencing a lot of what has been mentioned in both the article and a lot of comments. In the US (at least, in FL), politeness and manners are very important. I was raised heavily on phrases such as “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” and “Treat others the way you would like to be treated” etc. But it seems that most people did not grow up with anything even similar to these principles! Generally, the people here my age (I’m 19) are a lot more polite and open minded, but of course there are a few exceptions. A lot of (not all!) the older people (or people who live in small villages) are very condescending, selfish, and just ill-mannered. There is no such thing as asking someone to do something for you. For example when I’m working, we have a coffee machine and my coworkers will simply say “Get me a coffee.” not, “Can you /please/ get me a coffee?”
    A lot of people here, I find, talk down on others, believe they are always right, very close minded, and self-centered. I’m glad I found this article, because I was worried that I was just being too sensitive.

    Note: There are in fact a lot of things that I do love about the German culture as well as the country itself… But the behavior of the people is so awful sometimes, especially when you’ve been raised on the ideal that kindness, posititivty, and politeness is and always will be a MUST-have. It really drives me away from living here later on but I try not to let it engulf my overall perspective of Germany. It is simply exhausting sometimes to deal with rudeness on a daily basis, is all.

  57. I think, in general, Deutschland struggles with emotional intelligence. It’s been repressed and underrated for so long that it’s atrophied somewhat. Reminds me of an interesting study recently, in which people with facial muscles paralyzed by botox treatment were found to experience less empathy than the control sample, due to the reduced feedback from the facial muscles. LOL made me think of Deutschlanders.

  58. @Joseph

    Dear Joseph, If you were never in Germany, why do you think you can preach me on experiences almost every other expat had in here? I wrote that post 4 years ago, and what my toughts were in 2013, now in 2017 is multiplited by at least 10x. Generaly said, Germany is just sad, primitive, uneducated and rude country which thinks that it’s best – but Joseph – IT’S NOT BEST! It’s far far away from best.

    I will tell you the truth, and since You’re probably a German pretending not ever to be in Germany, I will tell you more truth, and this will hurt you much more – Germany is the country of liers, crooks, money hungry pricks, xenophobes, racists, fake multi culti, fake tolerance, hipocrites, psychiatric cases and bad taste for almost anything – and believe me, in 99% it’s not the problem with Foreigners but with the native Germans. I come from a so called “third world” country, but such primitive behaviour mixed with a healthy dose of lies, croockerya and arrogance on every corner, I have never imagined would see in a country that considers itself as the country of Übermenscsh that already did so much shit in the last 100 years – including two world wars. People here have money and nice cousy lifes, but they’re miserable to the bone.

    I lived in the east Germany for two years, and that was an awful, awful experience I never want to repeat again under any circumstances. In small towns there, Hitler’s era is still alive and well, and neonazis are holding whole regions under their control, I don’t have to mention that hey’re greatly helped by the police. For any foreigner no matter skin colour or background, east germany is a no-go area, and I suggest people to avoid east Germany completely (except Berlin which is the only island of tolerance and reason there). For whole two years living in Sachsen-Anhalt, me and my family experienced numerous attacks from neonazis, uncountable cases of insults, and we had a loads of stuff stolen, when a very valuable thing was stolen for a first time, Polizei wanted to persuade us that the company we have ordered stuff from doesn’t exist any more, and we’re lying!!! I don’t want to mention problems on the jobs we were experiencing, because it’s not for this forum. Besides that, food there is just ridiculously awful, and if it wasnt for a few brave italians, greek and turks who are making actually eatable food in form of pizzas and kebaps, the whole experience would be completely utterly mega awful. Also, it’s worth mentioning that all three restaurants were trashed by neonazi groups there a numerous times during our unpleasant stay in that nazi shithole.

    Then, we thought that our problems are over, and we’re moving to the best part of Germany called Bavaria, and it’s superbly proud part called Franken! What a fucking mistake that was!!!!!!!!! In sole comparison, two years in Franconia were worser than two years spent in Sachsen Anhalt, which we never tought would be possible in any way. In Franconia it’s hard to see neonazis walking on the streets, but they don’t need to walk on the streets, because na*ism is fully integrated into the institutions there. We experienced so much institutional racism and xenophobia there that Sachsen Anhalt is a kitty kat in comparison with ooo Great Bavaria! People there are rude, agressive, primitive, low educated and utterly miserable in that piece of shit region. My Mobile telephone (maybe 30 euro worth) was stolen from my car, a thief had broken into a car and took a phone. Later that day I went to the police which did not want to come to my house (my car was parked on my own parkplatz when it was broken into) and they said that they do not believe my story because it’s a part of the town which doesn’t have that kind of problems because people there are a well-off!!! What a fucking racist region and a fucking useless services there! Later that evening in called my number, and in all shock the man answered me on my own phone, and when I mentioned that he had broken into my car and had stolen my telephone, he answered on a perfect franconian dialect that – yes, he did it, and what I can do about it now? Does it sound like a decent and “first world” Christliche Abendland to you?
    Before we came In Bavaria, I have heard that people have superb food, especially good regional dishes – all I can say is that it all tastes like shit – from well known tasteless sausages, to something that likes like soups and other mishmash of junk wich is simply awful. People who like food there, have never tasted anything really good and well prepared in their lives, and that’s also a sad thing. If you ask me, I really don’t know what we have been doing in Germany right until now. We finally moved to a nice multi-culti German city, in which I don’t have to meet Germans on a daily basis If I really don’t want – and that’s such a relief!!!!!!!!

  59. @Oceania
    To me it looks like you’re demonstrating the same kind of rudeness you (claim to) condemn. Please open your mind a little and stop living in the past. New Zealand has its own problems as well, but then again, which country doesn’t?
    Swabia does not represent all of Germany, and those in-laws you mentioned do not represent Swabia.
    Genetics be darned, I don’t really know, but I think it’s just her. Even if it’s her heritage, confirmation bias isn’t the answer.
    I think there’s this little thing called ‘cultural differences’. If you look at the links I posted you’ll understand. Never been there (I’m dying to) but I believe not saying “Can you please” is part of it. It may be off-putting for many a US/UK/Australia national at first, but, after all, travelling is about seeing new ways of life. The German people themselves have their own code of etiquette that is a bit different from ours. There are still rude people there, even by German standards. Please tell us where in Germany you were (are?) living in. Still, thanks for keeping an open mind.
    @Everyone else
    You can ask some expats outside this site how they successfully integrated. Even if you’re not going back, you may learn a thing or two.
    Initially I felt like boycotting this site because of Jan not mentioning cultural differences (IMO it says more about the editors than Jan). Additionally, bringing up the second World war is beyond ridiculous since it’s been more than 66 years after it ended and most people still alive as of 2011 (when this article was written) didn’t live at the time. And I think maybe it’s time to close this comments section already (or am I overreacting?)

  60. @ Josep. How could you possibly comment on how Germans treat people if you have never even been there? A three-day stay in Berlin and a one day stop-over in Frankfurt was enough for me to see the utter, contemptible rudeness that we were displayed on many occasions. I don’t need to learn German for someone to be civil to me. I was utterly shocked that people could be so rude to someone who had not behaved in any manner other than politely towards them.

  61. Fascinating. I have been to Germany and met this guy who was soo rude! This article explains everything!! Since all Germans are so terribly rude it should come as no surprise that I should have met this super rude person. – – Really, that is how I read most of the comments here. This is particularly distressing since it is a website concerned with intercultural communication, and it has rubbished the entire concept. I am myself living in an intercultural marriage for the past 14 years with two children. We have lived in both our countries, India and Germany and are naturally accustomed to the perils of intercultural communication. Comments such as the above say a lot more about the authors than about those commented on. And I really wish some of you may let that piece of wisdom sink in.
    We are currently living in a place called Franconia. The people of Franconia are known to be extremely grumpy. Their manner of talking is straight forward, their tone of speech usually gruff and they appear to have a daily quota of words they are under no circumstances allowed to exceed. I am not a Franconian myself.
    Now, if you are a visitor from a place such as Hamburg or the Northern coast of Germany, this Franconian behavior might not strike you as out of the ordinary at all. If however you are from a place such as the Mosel valley with it’s hearty, cheerful manner, Franconians must strike you as rude. However, this is a problem of your own perspective. You judge others based on your own culture, your own style, the way you grew up. Thus two visitors from different places will have a very different opinion of the exact same place.
    As long as people use their own culture as a yardstick to judge others, we cannot progress to any level of understanding. If the author of the article judges Germans to be rude we might in turn infer that Germans are culturally incompetent and have little understanding of social psychology or human nature. But it would make a lot more sense to appreciate the fact that this may apply to the author alone.
    I have met impolite British, rather filthy Singaporeans, rude Thais, introvert, atheist Indians and a whole bunch of other stereotype-defying people all over the world. Articles and comments such as on this particular page are rather sad and do nothing to further cultural understanding.

  62. @Daniela

    You speak BS, you have never seen Franconia, or you’re a Franconian girl. In the second case, I know that no intellectual conversation could be made with Franconian people, because you’re all just primitive.

  63. I contacted the editor of this magazine (Stephanie) and she told me she’d inform Jan about this article.
    I have since changed my mind about going to Germany because of Merkel’s policies, and this is why I voted for Trump even if I don’t agree with some of his policies.

    @ Ivan
    Well, sorry about your experiences, but please don’t put words in my mouth. Where did I ever say I was German? (I live in the US actually, and the only other countries I’ve been to are China and Canada).
    Your response was kinda long, so I didn’t read all of it. Mine is kinda long too, and I wish it were shorter. Nonetheless, I never defended the actions of the rude people you met. Rudeness, xenophobia, racism and bigotry are always wrong regardless of who it’s coming from. Did you even try asking the tourist/expat bloggers how they coped? They saw things first hand and most had little to no problems. Sure, you may find some expats who didn’t like the place, but at least you can learn from them, so YMMV (your mileage may vary).
    And yes, some places in Germany are ruder than others, and this is true for any other country in the world, even the US. And yes, the Eastern part of Germany suffered 45 years of Communism, making that part minus Berlin relatively impoverished. And yes, with a few exceptions, that part of the country tends to be more racist than the west because of that.
    But then again, if that’s what you experienced in Germany and you want to leave, go ahead and leave. But smearing the whole country and its local inhabitants as a racist, primitive wasteland looks like the pot calling the kettle black (yes, there is still racism in Germany, but your remarks are just immature. Just. Stop.) I apologise if I come off as insensitive or rude myself.

    @ Jill
    Well, sorry about your experiences. Yes, I know I haven’t been there to see it for myself, so needless to say I can’t say much. But I DID read some travel blogs and forum topics about Germany, and I don’t want to cherry-pick, but most of the writers’ experiences were positive. Some of them had articles discussing the cultural differences in communication and interaction. You can ask the writers of those blogs how they managed to cope with the people. Even if you’re not going back, you can learn a thing or two.
    One needs to realise that Germany consists of different states, with each sharing similar culture. The same can be said about the US, the UK or Australia. Additionally, there are over 80 million people living in Germany, so it’s impossible to judge an entire country from run-ins with a few hundred people. Similarly, judging Anglo-Saxon people as racist based on run-ins with skinheads is equally just as wrong.
    Most of the time, the way people treat you reflect the way you treat them and vice-versa. Some negative experiences were caused by not following cultural norms. Others were just simple bad luck.
    I won’t deny there is rudeness in Germany, as there is in any other country.
    Don’t take this too personally, but the use of ‘Cheers’ at the end of your first sob story just simply felt out-of-place considering the tone of the rest of your comment.
    Then again, if you’re not going back, I don’t blame you. Wherever you’re going next, I wish you good luck on your travels.

    Kudos to Daniela for her sane, sober, rational comment. There are things country A does that country B finds baffling, and vice-versa.
    What I’d like to add is, it’s not right to paint all the inhabitants of a single country with the same brush based on run-ins with less than a few hundred of those inhabitants. The answer is not black or white. Everyone is different.
    To top it off, we really need to get off our high horse, admit we are not all perfect, stop our navel-gazing and learn how the locals live, and this goes for everyone in the whole wide world. So the next time you travel to another country, PLEASE read about its culture and social norms/mores. When in Rome…

  64. Imagine those people who work at your typical IT Department, yeah those weirdos with low EQ, no manners, no social skills; indeed those who kiss the bosses’ ass when it’s convenient, but get offended and angry very quickly when criticized. Those dweebs who hold and repress everything inside, and never admit that anything was their fault. Yeah those nerds who drive like assholes, because that’s how they release stress. Got it?
    Now picture a whole country full of those people.
    Good, now split the country in 2, those older than 35 years old, and those under.
    If you come from a culture with manners, then try to avoid the older group.
    If you cannot, then you can still find a few well-traveled Germans who will even tell you that the words “Typical Deutsch” have a bad connotation.
    Why are they so repressed? It starts at school. When they reach 10 years old they are told how hard they will have it in life. They are told that they always need to improve, that they are not good enough. Then after that they are subjected to horrendous taxation system. Sure things are changing slowly, give it another 25 years, and you’ll see a more Dutch-like Germany.
    Still feel like giving it a try? Be my guest, I just hope my tacky guidelines help you out.
    BTW to all those people who get butt-hurt by this description, es ist mir Wurst!

  65. I’ve been in Germany Ten years now, Lived in Frankfurt and Stuttgart, specifically Leonberg. In Frankfurt I was shocked by how unfriendly the People were, how aggressive their Drivers, but in Leonberg there is a General Level of Unfriendly bordering on Nasty that I really can’t stand. Insular small town mentality with Kids raised to alienate and dominate. A truly horrible place and I can’t wait to leave.

  66. You know the old saying, ‘What goes around comes around.’ In other words, people will be friendly if you be friendly to them.

    Dude, stop putting words in Daniela’s mouth. She visited two different parts of Germany and saw the differences herself. She said she’s not Franconian. She has been in an intercultural marriage for 14 years. Don’t personally attack her just because what she said doesn’t align with your worldview. Don’t shoot the messenger.
    And she’s right to point out that this is a parenting-oriented magazine discussing cross-cultural interactions, and this article made no single discussion of differences in communication or behavior. Worse, it started with a provocative title that reminds me of race-baiting tactics some journalists have used.
    For now, I’m counting down the days until Jan takes down this article. There’s too much slipshod journalism in this world already, and we don’t want another junk article.

    As Daniela wisely pointed out, the mentality of one state will be different from that of another, and this is true for every country in the world. We must also acknowledge that the experiences of one person may be different from those of another. In other words, Germany isn’t for everyone.
    One thing I did forget to add was that the age of the people sometimes plays a factor. In such cases, older people can get a lot more cantankerous than the newer generation.
    Personally, I think this comments section should have ended with Daniela’s comment, and I just wish more people would read her comment before posting.

    Just throwing in another two cents here.

    P.S. If any of my comments came off as ad-hominem attacks, I apologise.

    P.P.S. It’s also a bad idea to use cuss-words. This is a magazine talking about parenting.

  67. I can`t understand how people can generalise about a whole race. As if everyone in the U.K or the U.S is friendly or smiley all the time. There are just as many nice/ grotty folk here in Germany as in any other country. In all my years living here (Bavaria) I`ve never come across any particular unpleasant behaviour directed at me personally. I WILL agree though that in a lot of shops the assistants/proprietors seem to think that they are better than their actual customers- not very service friendly! Still there were a lot of miserable s*ds back in my home patch of Sarf London too!

  68. Hi, I was trying to find something about why Germans can be or are so rude, harsh, it’s been hard, I came back after several years and no matter the generation they are still unfriendly, impolite. If I smile to them the smile won’t come back, or I won’t get any response. So, I decided to be more like them.
    I have said “Hello” and smiling in a normal common polite way to the neighbors and they barely respond. I find it very weird. In my home country that’s something can happen too, but in Germany is like the general.i have had bad experiences as a foreigner in Germany but just I try to forget them. But in a certain way I feel a bit overwhelmed by the hostility, harsh, cold behavior of the Germans. I wish they could be more polite, and friendly, open, but it’s what it is. I understand they must feel weird with many people from other countries, and they don’t feel so happy about that, because things are turning kinda difficult for them to, anyway it doesn’t give them the right to behave harsh, hostile towards others.
    I’m not making generalizations but it’s the most common behavior I have found the Germans have, plus the Nazis (I had several bad experiences), or people who don’t like the foreigners.
    Kind Regards!

  69. A quick question for you guys:
    When traveling to another country, do you make any effort to assimilate into the local culture, or do you expect the locals to bend over for you? Based on the many positive anecdotes I’ve read, the foreigners who get treated better are the ones who obey laws, refrain from judgment, and assimilate themselves to the norms and values of the local culture. They don’t expect the locals to cater to them.
    There are some people like me who believe that foreigners should either adapt themselves to the local culture of their host country or else go home. Assimilation is not an easy task, I know. I won’t doubt that there are some Germans who behave poorly when traveling abroad (e.g. in Mallorca), but that’s not to say Britons, Australians or Americans are any better; in fact, everyone’s guilty of this no matter the nationality. The least we can do is set an example for those who travel poorly; two wrongs do not make a right.
    It seems to me that the type of foreigner who bashes the Germans is the similar type who comes to a different country and vents anger/malice at what they perceive as rudeness, arrogance or prejudice by the locals. As much as I sympathize with the victims here, however, a lot of them, while not completely in the wrong, have either misunderstood the situation, unluckily met the wrong people, or insulted the Germans out of ignorance of, if not blatant disregard for, German culture and customs.

    If I said anything close to extolling Germany, I’m now ready to retract what I said given Merkel’s reelection last September. Even then, the point still stands: it can be dumb to judge another country’s culture based on your own, and that different cultures have different definitions of good manners. Politeness is in the eye of the observer. It’s important to discern between actual rudeness and cultural norms. Learning the language isn’t enough.
    And secondly, even if the rudeness you experienced were real (and I won’t deny that it exists), it’s still dumb to judge a diverse country based on your encounter with at most %1 of its people. Ever heard of the word “individual”? The fact that you stumbled upon a jerk who was of nationality X does not automatically mean people of nationality X are jerks. Everyone is different. No two people are alike.

    I’ve looked at some of Jan’s other articles and they apparently share the belief that Anglo-Saxon societal norms are by default adequate and should be adopted by other countries. This implies ethnocentrism on his part, and if that’s the case, I wonder why he hasn’t been canned yet. What he wrote is not a good way of addressing the concept of intercultural communication (thanks, Daniela and Isa, for seeing right through this dross he wrote). It would be more insightful, sober-minded and logical to say that different cultures have different societal norms, and I’m surprised that Jan wasted such a golden opportunity. It’s important to keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions, take things personally, or take offense at situations where none is intended.

    Remember Matthew 7:5: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” In one way or another, how well you travel depends on how well you yourself can adapt to (and accept) a new way of life.
    Sadly, since WWII, secular humanism and moral relativism have swept Western Europe, blinding post-Christian Europeans from the horrors of Islamofascism, socialism, and political correctness (remember, the Nazis were leftists). In a way, some of the “rudeness” a lot of people complain about can be linked to secularism.

    Long story short: you’re in their country, so you should show some respect and gratitude, and understand the differences instead of making sweeping blanket statements. Be sure to obey the laws of the land, refrain from judgment, stop taking things too personally, and keep an open mind.
    As much as I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I just wish anyone reading this comment (plus Daniele’s comment from last March) would stop and think.

    P.S. It seems that new comments always get published every three months despite being written weeks, months even, beforehand. This means that, if you’re too early, your comment may get supplanted by someone else’s without you knowing it until the comments are posted, and if you’re too late, you’ll have to wait no more than three months for your comment to appear. Who’s in charge of this website by any chance?
    Besides, can’t we just close this conversation already? We’re more than 72 comments in, and based on the malicious insults I’ve found here, we haven’t gone anywhere at all!

    P.P.S. Last time I checked, people in Germany and Austria consume around half as many antidepressants per capita than do those in the UK, Canada or Australia (I don’t know about the USA). This is only a statistic I’d like to share, and I doubt if it has anything to do with the topic at hand. Either way, don’t confuse the lack of smiles for unfriendliness or pessimism. Anyone can be happy or polite without being fake.

  70. It is such a relief to read all these comments….I am from the Netherlands and sure the Dutch are at times a pain in the ass, but it really does not compare to the behavior of nasty Germans. While I do know nice Germans, they are a minority. The majority of people here are indifferent at best and thus not really friendly which does not contribute to a positive atmosphere of interaction or they are down right psychotic. The behaviors I have seen here of people in the public transport, people working in the service industry (restaurants and bars) customer services of companies etc. I have not seen anywhere else in the world and I have travelled extensively and lived in different countries. I work currently in a German university and I can somewhat second the experience of the person working at the Max Planck. While I do speak German, I find the insistence of some people to speak only in German and not make an effort to speak English in a international working environment baffling. Some of my colleagues are really nasty to the core: they are narcissistic, self-absorbed, envious and lash out at you for whatever reason. One of them even yelled at me. They are unprofessional, moody, rude and love power tripping and hierarchies, think they are absolutely the best and kiss ass up and kick down on others. It is really horrible. I have also the same experiences as others with the lunch time ceremony. have only been here for almost 6 months and I am seriously reconsidering whether I want to stay here for another 1,5 years for the job. The daily micro-aggressions are just too much already and it is exhausting to go to work everyday and experience all the negative energy. I really miss all the other countries where I have worked before and have come to realize that Germany, while our close neighbor, is NOTHING like the Netherlands. In this country live the grumpy and unhappy bunch! If you are an expat and your are considering to move to another European country, then go to the Netherlands; that is much friendlier and people are really laid-back there and don’t have such fragile egos.

  71. I know this post is old, but I just want to add that the reason I think Germans are so rude is that they don’t really have a concept of right and wrong, they just know how to follow rules (and specifically, written rules, aka laws). So in the absence of a law to regulate a specific behavior, they’ll simply act like 6 year olds, which is to say selfishly and with no regards to others. Since there isn’t a law that says that if for example you bump into somebody on the street you should say “sorry” or else get fined, they will simply go on their way without even acknowledging your presence. But if you dare to cross on a red light, they’ll throw all kind of nasty looks and insults at you, because that is something that the law says is “wrong”. They’re really just social cripples who were never taught to behave like social human beings, only to obey orders without question.

  72. I love this thread! One of the best I have come across on the subject, and one which illustrates, for better or worse, that however tenuous our German connections are, we are all in this together.

    I am the spawn of a Deutsche Frau, though I wouldn’t call her much of a lady, and a Welsh would-be-Richard-Burton drunkard. My mother’s rudeness is legendary – but so, too, is her unimaginable coldness.

    In the 90s, we had cable TV for the first time, and for reasons perhaps only known to her, she was watching programmes about WWII from morning till night, every day. Now I found a lot of this quite distressing, especially anything to do with concentration camps. I used to exit the room in tears because I found it too much, and she used to go on cheerfully watching…no, I couldn’t compute that one.

    Parenting, and the famous German mother Death stare! Oh God! My Mother’s stare was so EVIL!!! She was out babysitting my cousin (her niece) for an afternoon – I think the two of them deserved each other – and grabbed the 5-year-old just as the kid was about to tackle a zebra crossing at entirely the wrong time.
    Cousin: Ich hau’ dich!
    Mother: (Darth Vader death stare) JA, ICH KANN HARTER HAUEN!

    It was just the same when I was a kid. My mum had a big collection of wooden spoons which she used to beat me with. She would count till three (vun, two, sree) and then come chase after me with the wooden spoon. I would lead her a merry dance, and she would chase me upstairs and downstairs.

    One of the most bizarre episodes was when I was 21, and she still had her inventory of wooden spoons hanging about. We had an argument and she brought out the wooden spoon and begged me “please lett me beat you – please lett me beat you”.
    “No, Mum,” I said, “what you’re doing is a bunch of crap, just because I disagree with you. And in any event, don’t you think I’m just a little old for such nonsense?”

    When my father had an affair (just one of many, and not helped by my mother, you understand – he said she acted like a fun party girl for all 13 weeks of their courtship, and promptly ignored him the moment they were married), she threw his clothes into the duck-pond. He responded by walking out of the house smoking a fat cigar, and saying “it’s been nice knowing you”. As a Kraut, she simply didn’t get the irony.

    Not that I have been immune to German-isation myself. Apparently I am a nice lady most of the time, but I go up the wall whenever I am on the receiving end of incompetence. People think I’m rude, but I am simply telling them what they need to know, in order that they don’t spend their lives living under whatever comfort blanket they have knitted for themselves. I’ll let you into a secret: even MY MOTHER can’t stand my criticism.

    And Brits are rude. Oh boy, are Brits rude. Some are just rude because that’s who they are, whereas a vast number store it all up during the workweek, then drink 12 pints on a Friday night, and somehow manage to make contact with whatever is within striking distance.

  73. Rudeness is just a symptom but what’s the actual cause? Having lived in Germany for 10 years in total it’s impossible to say that they (by “they” I mean the majority, the mass, the mainstream go German society) are happy people. They are quite frustrated and miserable and no amount of material progress can hide or change that. There absolutely no lightness of being, just grey misery. This misery is the fertile ground which gave birth to Nazism and this fertile ground is still very much there – perhaps it was even more the case in the past, I don’t know. I think the ego is the the core of this, the illusion of separation from other people and the environment. It’s just very strong and it manifests in others (“Fremde” – aliens) being perceived as a threat and the environment being perceived as hostile. In Germany, strangers don’t really talk to each others unless they must, a random interaction is unwanted, it’s a hurdle. There’s no small-talk. They collectively live for the future (everything is for the “Zukunft”) which MUSS be perfect while in the present they just suffer. Mostly they discipline themselves to suffer quietly (repression, depression, mental illnesses, smoking, drugs) but often they cannot and the negativity boils over. I have met many nice people in Germany but few content ones. The young ones often are but once they enter the system, they are beat down with the endless rules until they are themselves down and ready to inflict the same to others. A cultural revolution is badly needed.


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