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'Polite police' fear Germany a 'land of yobs'

The Local · 19 Oct 2012, 16:29

Published: 19 Oct 2012 16:29 GMT+02:00

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The Knigge Gesellschaft named after Adolph Freiherr von Knigge, author of the country's cornerstone manners manual, began its annual meeting on Thursday.

The main concern, Die Welt newspaper reported, was Germany turning into “a society of yobs.”

Chairman Hans-Michael Klein said on Friday that wanted the association to try to “animate Germans into being more polite,” but that this was proving difficult.

Yet he suggested that “etiquette will pulse out over the entire republic,” from town of Grafenau, where the group was meeting.

Spreading the word about good manners was, Klein explained, very important. One of the reasons Germans could be lacking in them was the lax child rearing techniques embraced by parents brought up during the student revolution in the late sixties.

But psychologist Niels van Quaquebeke disagreed with Klein and on Friday took to Deutschlandradio Kultur radio station to talk about manners. Germans had not, he said, lost respect for one another and in fact had become more sensitive.

“As a society, however, we should make time to ask ourselves: how do we want to treat each other,” he added.

Quaquebeke is a professor of leadership at the Hamburg Kühne business university and a well-known expert on respect. He explained that although the way people interacted with one another had changed over the past two decades, trying to be respectful was still difficult.

Particularly tricky was learning to understand others' logic and being open to other outlooks.

“This is something I too have to work on, to make sure I react appropriately,” said Quaquebeke.

Story continues below…

Accepting individuality was one of the biggest challenges Germany faced, he added.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

22:00 October 19, 2012 by auslanderus
Respect in Germany for older people has been lost by younger people. Try riding a school bus sometime. You will get no respect. That also go's with manners, when someone bumps into you, nothing is said. Respect and manners go hand in hand and I am sad to say, it has taken a back step.
22:23 October 19, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Luckily I am not German and have no intention of getting old in Germany. I see the disgraceful behaviour of the youth every day and am glad my own parents are not pensioners trying to live in Germany. They will run you over to get a train seat in front of a weak 80 year old. They will practically walk through you like you are not there on the streets. Whenever I am on the tram and help someone with a pram or buggy on to the tram the person I help is surprised as it is not something that normally happens. Kids in Germany are brought up to believe they will get it all and you can see it in the youth culture. No way I am getting old in Germany.

Just waiting for the "if you don't like it go home" comment. You know what. I AM. Good luck with your living hell.
22:28 October 19, 2012 by blackboot11
@ Berliner für alles: sadly, I agree with your comments here.....
22:45 October 19, 2012 by septiSeverus
This maybe cultural? Children and young people learn from their parents and environment. Most Germans and the little ones, who can do no wrong, often seem to have very little concept of consideration, personal space and respect for adults and strangers in public settings.
23:31 October 19, 2012 by LancashireLad
Quaquebeke's first comment made me wonder what planet he is on. "Germans had not, he said, lost respect for one another and in fact had become more sensitive".

His following comments are, however, spot on.

The lax attitude to childraising is also a problem - I see this in a lot of my children's friends. I am doing what I can to ensure my children do have respect for others ... the problem is that society also has a huge effect on growing children.

Germans also need to learn responsibility for their actions. Sometimes it is not the rest of the world that is automatically at fault.
08:26 October 20, 2012 by schneebeck
Why did the parents, who were taught manners by their parents, decide that teaching their children the same wasn't necessary?

Were the parents too tired? Were they just smarter than their parents at child rearing? Is it because both parents are working?
09:55 October 20, 2012 by Englishted
Respect is the problem here,younger people have been taught in school that the deserve respect no matter what,they have yet to be taught the must earn respect .

The older generation in German however do not set a good example just look at the number of disabled badge parking places in shopping centres take by none badge holders showing no "respect "to people worse of than themselves.

Greed and selfishness are the new creed and I makes me despair.

P.S. I wish newspapers would publish photos of those using the spaces as a bid to "name and shame".
17:11 October 20, 2012 by Sarah612
I think this is a problem seen all over the world, not just in Germany. Children are being raised differently, which isn't a problem as long as they learn general respect and I think this is being done. However, there are always going to be those rotten kids that don't care about anyone but themselves and they will always be there.

I personally have never had a bad experience with German youth. In fact when I was there recently, we were trying to leave the airport and we didn't realize you had to buy a ticket to leave the gate so traffic was blocked behind us as a friend ran back to the booth to get the ticket we needed to leave. There were two teens in the car behind us and they were perfectly polite about it, asking what was wrong and we told them it was our mistake and helped them move around us. I would expect someone to be angry in this situation obviously, but they were very kind to us.

I don't think this is as big of a problem as people say, but my experience is limited I suppose to two months there. I felt someone needed to stand up for the youth that are polite and well mannered, for that is all I have ever experienced there.
07:05 October 21, 2012 by McM
Excuse me, but I need more respect, especially at a Geman supermarket.
09:23 October 21, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles

Speaking of supermarkets. The way Germans act when a new Kasse opens gives you an example of why German kids grow up the way they do. They will run over their own mother to get to the newly opened Kasse first. They act the same getting on trains, busses, trams etc. Any kind of polite behaviour does not exist in public. My parents are old and I am just so very very glad they do not live in Germany.
11:31 October 21, 2012 by chris berlin
@ Berlin fuer alles:

First of all you should not generalize from your own experiences to the whole of Germany. Even Berlin alone is such a heterogeneous city, it is certainly very different to go to a supermarket in zehlendorf, neukölln, marzahn or prenzlauer berg, and the socialization backgrounds of kids are accordingly quite diverse!

Second, most central neigborhoods in berlin are not typically German. They are full of tourists and expats like us. I often hear here more english, turkish, spanish and italian than german.

Third, I lived in other European cities and must say that Germans are quite polite - though also direct - and I make very diverse experiences with kids in Berlin.

And in general: Berlin is as typical for Germany as snow is for the islands of the bahamas ;)
15:24 October 21, 2012 by charlenej
I've lived a couple different places in Germany and definitely seen what Berlin fuer alles described in stores and buses/bahn. People run over themselves trying to get to where they are going first. And Germans are known for not saying "excuse me" or something when they bump into people. but I don't think that's ever been a part of their culture as far as I know from German friends.

That said, the behavior of children can be atrocious. I visited and worked in a number of kindergartens and elementary schools and the behavior is atrocious. The kids run, knock each other over, yell, and just treat each other really really mean. And the adults don't correct it. It is very much "every man for himself". My children are taught to respect others and how to treat people, greet people, etc. and so many people here don't teach their children the same.

I once worked in a private German elementary school in a first grade class. The children were 6-7 years old and completely wild. For the short time I was assigned to them I tried to instill some classroom management and finally after several weeks able to get them to walk down the stairs in a line without pushing over the little kids from downstairs, but once I left it went right back to how it was. One time they were asked to make a circle for a game. They couldn't do it. They ran over each other, argued, etc, but never did it. And at the end their teacher threw up his hands and said "forget it, let's do something else," which is EXACTLY why they were 7 years old and unable to do something 2 year olds can do.
08:44 October 23, 2012 by aussie_boy
Quaquebeke is a "well known expert on respect"? Really, the reporting is getting so shoddy here. Where does that come from?
21:32 October 23, 2012 by jolly-go-down
"comment rejected due to profanity - by chance americans running this site?" read on, if this offends you.

anyways, let me, as a half german, remind the anglo saxons that you have always considered the fatherland as a rude place, so you're comparing apples to oranges.

and there's also the problem, when you feel disrespected and become disrespectful yourself, you may start an endless loop, in which nobody will ever respect the other. think jews and arabs as an example.

yeah, and I just realized my first sentence was kind of disrespectful too. i could remove it, but i want to use this occasion as well to aplogize for it as well. because it can be completely normal to be a bit hotheaded if your long, long commment that you spent half an hour writing on, just disappears without you having anything saved of it. anyways, i will try to keep profanity to myself. and without further ado: sorry, dear americans.
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