Clichés and Stereotypes About Germans

No dirndls and lederhosen in a Munich beergarden Credit: C.Lohs

No dirndls and lederhosen in a Munich beergarden Credit: C.Lohs

Germany is More Than Beer and Bratwurst

Germany has more than its shares of clichés and stereotypes. The most widespread are: Lederhosen, beer and sausages.

Some time ago, the author witnessed a group of middle-aged American tourists exiting a travel bus in Heidelberg. One woman was dressed in a Bavarian dirndl (a traditional Bavarian dress) while her husband sported short Bavarian Lederhosen (leather trousers) with a typical, loden green Tyrolean hat perched on his head. This couple stood in front of the bus with an amazed look in their faces, probably wondering why they were the only ones wearing what they thought were typical German clothes.

Unfortunately, one of the many clichés about Germany that Americans harbor is that all Germans dress Bavarian style. The truth is that not even Bavarians wear these clothes unless when attending folk festivals in their federal state or while visiting their famous Bierbräuhaus (brewery) in Munich on the weekend. The simple truth is that no non-Bavarian German would ever dress like this. They might, though, if they attend the Oktoberfest.

Cliché: Germans are Beer Drinkers

There might be some famous breweries in the country, but this does not mean that all Germans are avid beer drinkers. According to a recent survey, coffee is the favorite beverage of Germans. Yes, Germans are a nation of serious coffee drinkers. In Europe, the Czechs consume the most beer, followed by the Dutch and the English. Other than coffee, Germans drink much mineral water, but from the bottle, not from the tap.

Cliché: Germans Love Sausages and Sauerkraut

Foreigners are usually better informed about typical German food than the Germans themselves. While American and Japanese tourists scour our cities for traditional German restaurants, many Germans prefer international cuisine. Proof of this is, as they say, in the pudding. German cities have more than just a smattering of Italian, French and Asian restaurants. If non-German tourists ask a local citizen for a traditional German restaurant, he might only shrug his shoulders.

Cliché: Germans Like Brass Music

Brass music is, generally speaking, a nightmare except for Bavarians over 60. Fortunately for non-Bavarians, this music is not popular outside of Bavaria. Rather, Germans prefer the music that they remember from their youth, such as rock music. Ninety per cent of Germans were not weaned on a steady diet of brass music, nor did they grow up in Bavaria. And by the way, non-Bavarians do not consider Bavaria as part of Germany and the Bavarians return the favor.

Cliché: Germans are Obsessed with Punctuality

The author, a teacher, wishes that Germans were as punctual as their reputation. Her students, however, are always late while her foreign students normally arrive on time. Nonetheless, Germans are always on time for business meetings, and if they invite guests for dinner and they are tardy, Germans are not amused and they express their feelings directly and clearly to them.

Cliché: All Germans are Blond and Have Blue Eyes

This might be true for citizens of Northern Germany, but not for those who live in the South. The more south one travels, the fewer blond people with blue eyes are seen. Many people there have dark hair and brown eyes, and yes, they have been Germans for generations. Germany is not a nation full of Heidi Klums and Claudia Schiffers – both of whom were not born in the south.

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