Stereotypes of Germans

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Stereotypes of Germans include real or imagined characteristics of the German people used by people who see the German people as a single and homogeneous group.[1][2]

Contemporary stereotyping grouping people as 'Germans'

Stereotypes among German people[edit]

There exist stereotypes of Western Germans, Wessis, especially Besserwessis (people who always know better); and Eastern Germans, Ossis.[3]

Stereotypes with positive use[edit]

Extremely punctual people[edit]

According to the stereotype, in Germany, everything happens exactly as per schedule and Germans do not tolerate being late for any occasion and being proud of their punctuality.[4][5] Part of the contribution to this was the similar image of the German work ethic perceived by American GIs in the postwar period: "Many West Germans are serious about their duties, keeping to their timetables, and do not enjoy many tea or coffee breaks". The German railroad system, which occasionally runs late, has been exempt from this stereotype.[6][better source needed] The punctuality and discipline of the German people is also ridiculed by newspapers like the Guardian.[7]

Love of order[edit]

Attachment to order, organisation and planning is a stereotype of German culture. Germany is perceived to have an abundance of rules (for example, copyright trolls often come from Germany) and Germans are generalized as enjoying obeying them.[8] Jerome K. Jerome's novel Three Men on the Bummel makes fun of the perceived German craving for rules and passion in obeying them; the regimented life of German people is discussed in detail in this novel.[9][better source needed]

Stereotypes with negative use[edit]

German policemen filming demonstrators

No small talk[edit]

Some people think that the Germans are all straightforward and undiplomatic. The perceived inability of the Germans to engage in small talk and their unromantic nature are discussed by foreigners. As far as a German is concerned, 'A yes is a yes and a no is a no.'[10][better source needed]


For Germany perpetrating the Holocaust and starting World War II, Germans are often stereotyped as Nazis.[11] This stereotype, while now rare, persists to this day. After the war, the German people were often viewed with contempt because they were blamed by other Europeans for Nazi crimes. Germans visiting abroad, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, attracted insults from locals, and from foreigners who may have lost their families or friends in the atrocities.[12] Today in Europe and worldwide (particularly in countries that fought against the Axis), Germans may be scorned by elderly people who were alive to experience the atrocities committed by Nazi Germans or by veterans who had fought against the Nazis during World War II. This resulted in a feeling of controversy for many Germans, causing numerous discussions and rows among scholars and politicians in Post-War West Germany (for example, the "Historikerstreit" [historians' argument] in the 1980s) and after Reunification. Here, the discussion was mainly about the role that the unified Germany should play in the world and in Europe. Bernard Schlink's novel The Reader concerns how post-war Germans dealt with the issue.

No sense of humour[edit]

Germans are perceived to be stiff and humourless.[13][14][7] There are many popular culture references to perceived lack of humor in Germany, a notable example being the Funnybot episode of South Park. Edward T. Hall, an American sociologist and intercultural expert, has identified certain dimensions to explain cultural differences. He noted in particular that Germans tend to be task-oriented people, while the French, for example, seem to generally prefer personal relationships.[15]

German women[edit]

There are assumptions that German women are cold and unromantic. Some people assume that German women are unable to cook.[citation needed]

The kitsch[edit]

The word "kitsch" is German. A stereotypical example is the garden gnome.[16]

Great Britain[edit]

British tabloids often portray Germans negatively.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23]


In the course of the Greek government-debt crisis, Germany has become a generalized object of critique as cruel and inflexible.[24]


The stereotype of outward seriousness of the German people are basis for further stereotyping that they are cold and unromantic people. The kindness of the average German may not be observed by tourists who may only notice a reluctance to deal with complete strangers.[25][better source needed]

Russians, on the other hand, also have a positive stereotype of Germans due to being serious and punctual, as well as being good entrepreneurs, thus serving as an inspiration for Russians to develop.[26]

United States[edit]

The United States has a mixed view on Germany, in particular World War 2 movies usually focus on the Germans as opposed to the Japanese or Italians.[27][28][29][30] Since the 1930's to modern day, Hollywood still portrays Germans as evil villains in films such as Captain America: The First Avenger,The Dirty Dozen, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Rocketeer, and Inglourious Basterds.[31] Videos games have also depicted the evil German stereotype in games such as the Wolfenstein video game series, the Call of Duty video game series, and the BloodRayne video game series.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The myth of the humourless German". 26 May 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2019 – via
  2. ^ Bertolette, William (1 January 2004). "German stereotypes in British magazines prior to World War I". LSU Master's Theses. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Typically Ossi -- Typically Wessi - DW - 05.01.2009". DW.COM. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  4. ^ Taylor, Paul (25 July 2017). "The dishonest Germans". POLITICO. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  5. ^ Zudeick, Peter (9 December 2012). "Germans and punctuality". Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  6. ^ Michelle (20 December 2012). "German Stereotypes…truths! lies! and more!". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b Erlinger, Rainer (27 January 2012). "German stereotypes: Don't mention the towels". The Guardian. Süddeutsche Zeitung. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  8. ^ Zudeick, Peter (19 November 2012). "Order makes Germans' world go round". Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  9. ^ Simon T (5 December 2012). "Three Men on the Bummel – Jerome K. Jerome". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  10. ^ Schäferhoff, Nick (9 November 2014). "9 German Stereotypes That Are Straight Up True". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  11. ^ Heyer, Julia Amalia; Batzoglou, Ferry (29 February 2012). "When in Doubt, Call Them Nazis: Ugly Stereotypes of Germany Resurface in Greece". Retrieved 11 April 2019 – via Spiegel Online.
  12. ^ "Opinion: This is why Germany needs a new, enlightened patriotism". The Independent. 2 August 2019.
  13. ^ Bennhold, Katrin (23 December 2014). "A German Comedian in London: Working Out the War in Punch Lines". Retrieved 12 April 2019 – via
  14. ^ McPherson, Amy. "Why people think Germans aren't funny". Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  15. ^ Catherine (15 December 2015). "Seriously, do Germans have a sense of humor?". Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  16. ^ Online, FOCUS. "Was ist typisch deutsch?". FOCUS Online. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  17. ^ Harding, Luke (2006). "THE PERCEPTION OF GERMANY IN THE UK MEDIA" (PDF).
  18. ^ Vonberg, Judith (2017). "'Mirrors of Ourselves': Fictional depictions of Germans and Britons in British and German popular culture 1945-1965" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ Rieger, Bernhard (1 October 2009). "The 'Good German' Goes Global: the Volkswagen Beetle as an Icon in the Federal Republic". History Workshop Journal. 68 (1): 3–26. doi:10.1093/hwj/dbp010.
  22. ^ Geyer, Ms Florian; Guild, Professor Elspeth (28 March 2013). Security versus Justice?: Police and Judicial Cooperation in the European Union. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 9781409498735. Retrieved 12 April 2019 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ "Depicting the enemy". The British Library. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  24. ^ "Don't Blame Germany for Greece's Debt Crisis". Time. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  25. ^ Olga (27 March 2015). "8 False German Stereotypes". The Russian Abroad. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  26. ^ Þórðarson, Bjarki (2016). "Germany and Russia–Friends or Foes" (PDF). Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  27. ^ Little, Becky. "When German Immigrants Were America's Undesirables". HISTORY. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  28. ^ "What Hollywood movies do to perpetuate racial stereotypes - DW - 21.02.2019". DW.COM. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  29. ^ Wilde, Annett; Diekman, Amanda B. (1 June 2005). "Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences in Dynamic Stereotypes: A Comparison Between Germany and the United States". Psychology of Women Quarterly. 29 (2): 188–196. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2005.00181.x. S2CID 144039988.
  30. ^ Risen, Clay (28 August 2009). "Beer Battle: America vs. Germany". The Atlantic. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  31. ^ Snyder, Eleanor Barkhorn, Spencer Kornhaber, Daniel D. (26 July 2011). "Nazis as Movie Villains: The Evolution of a Cliche". The Atlantic.
  32. ^ "Nazis Games". Giant Bomb.

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