This paper will focus on the stereotypes, which are related to one of the great and the most ancient cultures of the world, and namely, the German culture. It will make an attempt to explore the most important factors, which bring about the stereotypes in focus and will also discuss the stereotypes, which Germans have regarding other culture. These stereotypes are, in fact, a part of German cultural background.
Unfortunately, humans of different cultures seek for excuses not to learn more about other cultures and to remain focused on their own culture. This is an easy choice, but by making such a shortcut, people refuse of something really valuable. It may seem to be much more complicated to look into the cultural background of another culture. It would seem that it is not an easy task. And this is why people come up with various simplistic explanations of behavior or phenomena, which they fail to understand. Unfortunately, representatives of English speaking cultures, as well as other people all over the world have got a lot of stereotypes regarding German culture. German culture is really ancient; it dates back to the times a millennium and a half ago. The culture derives from the great heritage of ancient Rome and Greece, and modern world enjoys a number of outstanding masterpieces, developed by outstanding German people of art. Goethe, Schiller, Hegel, Beethoven, Brahms, Zweig, Marx – these are just a few names, which come to mind when speaking of German culture. The XX century was not the best century in this respect, since the portrait of German culture was complemented with the colors and points, associated with the two world wars. And this is all what comprises modern image of German culture, but, in fact, this image is not limited to just that.
When developing an image of a typical German, one will certainly state that an average representative of this cultural domain is always in time and accurately fulfills his promises. Respect for love and hard work are two other important characteristics, which complement the prototype of an average German. It is interesting to admit, that Germans themselves also have similar beliefs regarding some of Germans, and, in particular, regarding those, who live in Berlin (Erling, ND). It is believed, that Berliners are much more relaxed, than other representatives of German nation.
It is typically believed, that Germans pay much attention to scrupulous development of laws and regulations. Even more care and effort they input into following those laws and regulations, even though they may sometimes appear to be silly or ridiculous. Germans are known for their special attitude for traffic regulations. It is believed, that a German will never cross the road at a wrong signal of the traffic lights. It is also thought of Germans, that they by far not only love and respect traffic regulations, but they see it impossible to treat these regulations differently. A German simply cannot get to understand, how it may be possible to violate the road regulations. This stereotypical belief is also supported by one regulation, which presupposes a five Euro fine for any person, who may violate the regulations and cross the road at a wrong signal of the traffic lights (Pitt, ND).
Pitt (ND) also brings about another passion of the Germans. They love to recycle. There is nothing wrong to recycle, but throwing something away in Germany appears to be an unthinkable, unimaginable thing in Germany. Germans will separate their garbage and dispose it in separate tanks both at their homes and in public. This love for garbage segregation can also be easily explained by the amounts of fines which a German will pay for improper garbage disposal. This has nothing to do with pathological love for order for the sake of order, which is oftentimes stereotypically assigned to Germans.
There is another feature, which is widely believed to belong to typical German character. Germans are thought to be introverts, not very good at communication, enclosed and stay-at-home people. Germans are even sometimes believed to be impolite, that far their inability to socialize is believed to go. Germans are generally thought to have few friends and it is expected, that a typ8ical German will need much more time to make friends, than a representative of any other nation. Moreover, it is generally believed, that German women are not romantic and will hardly let their feelings out. They are also believed to be unable and unwilling to perform home duties, preferring eating out to cooking and caring for their homes. Much is being said about humor of German origin. It would be more correct to say, that Germans are thought of as such who are unable to make and even less to understand humor (Erlinger, ND). However it may very well be that other people simply fail to understand German humor, so fine it is. It is a common thing: humor is not easy to be translated or explained by means of other languages. And the more complex the language is, the less effective such translation will be. German is by far not the easiest language.
It is sad to admit, but the Second World War still has got significant influence upon the stereotypical image of Germans for many cultures. For a number of cultures Germans are tightly associated with war, with an enemy, with Nazi ideology and other things. Unfortunately, many nations have not yet sincerely forgotten this great people the mistakes, made by their ancestors over half a century ago. Formally everything is settled down, but the opposition against Germans still lives in minds and souls of some nations. And this image not only directly derives from the memories or stories, associated with the war events themselves, but also from the media campaign, which took place right after the fall of the Berlin war. The media are inclined to demonize things, they have hard time explaining. And Germans turned out to be victims of media campaign, promoting an image of a German as a military man, an aggressor ((Bertolette, 7). However, the image of Germans as military nation began to form even some time prior to the world Wars.
To complete the stereotypical image of Germans it is certainly important to bring up their tastes in the field of canteen. It is most widely believed that Germans constantly drink beer, and any German beer is automatically expected to be of the highest quality and the “right” kind. Large portions of beer are believed to be accompanied with a variety of meet dishes and sausages, which are also expected to be of outstandingly high quality.
Globalization has allowed all the nations all over the world to understand more about German culture. German food is nowadays popular in restaurants not only all over the Europe, but also in other continents. Good translations of German books and films are enjoyed by art lovers all over the globe. Finally, for those, who are interested, it is not a big deal to travel all the way to Germany and to break all the stereotypes by experiencing staying a few days in this great country, among these friendly and very easy going people, who have given so much to the world culture and will, no doubt, increase their input even more in the future. This is the best way to get to understand this great culture worthwhile exploring.
- Bertolette, W. “German stereotypes in British magazines prior to World War I”, California State University. 2004.
- Erlinger, R. “German stereotypes: don’t mention the towels”, World news. The Guardian. 2012.
- Pidd, H. “German stereotypes: if there is a sign, obey it”. World News. The Guardian. 2011.
- Pidd, H. “Germany wakes up to the fry-up as British cuisine takes off in Berlin”, world news. The Guardian. 2011.