• Germany's news in English

Why do Germans seem rude? Blame history

The Local · 14 Oct 2013, 11:57

Published: 14 Oct 2013 11:57 GMT+02:00

The one-minute video, which was made by the Amsterdam branch of the state-funded Goethe Institute, aims to make communication with German business partners easier.

It features a German man and his non-German equivalent operating at cross-purposes in a variety of situations. At one point the German man is standing upright, eagerly wielding documents while his otherwise identical counterpart is in a slouched position dreaming about beer.

"We produced the films as a starting point of a discussion about cultural differences when doing business with Germans," Christine Jansen of the Amsterdam branch of the Goethe Institute told The Local.

The video-makers attribute Germans’ tendency to avoid personal matters in favour of getting straight to the point to history. They say the historic division of Germany into several smaller states meant Germans were “constantly surrounded by enemies” and they "kept themselves to themselves."

Jansen told The Local that the mention of Germany being surrounded by enemies was not a reference to the Second World War and that there had been some criticism of that part of the video.

"We are very happy about comments – positive and negative ones – because we would like to start a discussion," she said.

The video says that Germany's chaotic history means the country today values stability and structure and that Germans do not leave things to chance. "They feel more comfortable being formal," the video claims.

Germany's turbulent history, it explains, meant that Germans could never take stability for granted and preferred to keep to themselves. Centuries of "chaos, wars [and] depression" led to a greater focus on facts and arguments, which offered security.

The video advises people doing business with Germans to come well prepared and set out their business agenda clearly at the first meeting. If they do this, they will be rewarded by being taken "very seriously indeed."

On the question of whether the videos actually reinforce stereotypes about Germans, Jansen said "This is possible but not intended. We used humor in the films to avoid this."

The video is part of a series called 'Typical German.' Other videos include an explanation of the successful 'Made in Germany' brand and why in Germany 'Time is Money.'

READ MORE: Five reasons to date a German (and five not to)

The Local/kkf

Story continues below…

Follow us on Twitter @thelocalgermany

Like The Local Germany on Facebook

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sinking Deutsche Bank stock sends shock across Europe
Photo: DPA

Shares in Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank plummeted on the Frankfurt stock market on Friday, dragging other European banks and global markets down with it, after reports some customers were pulling money out.

The Local List
10 things you never knew about German reunification
Reunification celebrations in Hanover in 2014. Photo: DPA

With German Unity Day (October 3rd) happening on Monday, Germans are looking forward to a three-day weekend. But did you know these facts about reunification and German Unity Day?

Munich pharmacy’s nighttime porno show draws crowd
Photo: DPA

When a police patrol in Munich's Sendlinger Tor area noticed a crowd gathered outside a pharmacy window they went to investigate. But the onlookers weren't interested in a new line of flu medicine.

Small town mayor beaten up for plan to house refugees
File photo: DPA.

The mayor of the small northern town of Oersdorf, Schleswig-Holstein, was beaten up by an as yet unknown person, police reported on Friday, seemingly because of plans to provide a home for refugees.

Fire at major Ruhr area hospital kills at least two
The fire in Bochum. Photo: DPA

Tragedy struck the western German town of Bochum on Friday morning when a huge fire broke out in a hospital in Bochum, killing at least two people.

Merkel condemns 'barbarous' Russian strikes on Aleppo
Photo: DPA.

US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned what they called "barbarous" Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes on Aleppo during a phone call Thursday, the White House said.

Self-driving Tesla car hits bus on Autobahn
A Tesla Model S on autopilot. Photo: DPA / obs / ADAC

Questions about Tesla’s self-driving cars are now being raised in Germany after an accident on Wednesday.

Lion shot dead at Leipzig Zoo after breaking out of cage
Motshegetsi (l) und Majo. Photo: DPA

A young male lion was shot dead at Leipzig Zoo on Thursday afternoon after he broke out of his enclosure.

EU takes Germany to court for 'discriminatory' foreigner toll
A sign that reads "toll" along the Autobahn by Rostock. Photo: DPA.

The European Commission on Thursday said it is taking Germany to the EU Court of Justice because of the country's plan to impose a road toll that would mainly charge foreign drivers.

After 3-year trial, suspected neo-Nazi terrorist speaks out
Beate Zschäpe. Photo: DPA

Beate Zschäpe, the only living member of an underground neo-Nazi cell accused of murdering ten people, has spoken to the court in Munich after three years of silence.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd