Why Germans are 'rude'

Why Germans are 'rude'

Comments108 comments

In her latest column, Expatica's resident German expert Renate Grasstat explores why Germans seem so rude to outsiders.

Have you ever experienced a shop's door being banged right into your face? No? You will.

This is the most frequent complaint about Germany I hear when talking to people from other countries - especially to British and American students.  It is even more common than grumbling about shopkeepers' and waiters' behaviour, and this certainly says something.

In the puzzled faces I can literally see the question behind the complaints: Why do we Germans do that? Why are we so amazingly impolite?

I suppose I should shrug my shoulders and answer "no idea", which is what German shop assistants (at least in Berlin) usually seem to do when confronted with a question they either do not know the answer to or just find irrelevant.

Gingerbread assumptions

One of my colleagues recently asked a shop assistant in a supermarket: "Do you have gingerbread?" The reply was: "Davon gehe ich aus". ("I assume so."). She didn't move a muscle. Irony? Patronizing? Just unwillingness? My colleague turned on the spot and walked out of the place - even though he was German, too.

Well, perhaps I had better explain something about these kinds of sentences. They obviously do not have the same implications as in English. There can be no doubt that the English language is less direct in these situations and therefore more polite than German. And this makes it much easier to be polite (no excuse for banging the door, I know).

Delicate language tasks

When I was working in an office for an international language school I sometimes was in the unpleasant situation of having to call one of the clients and ask if he or she were willing to change their time schedule (because the school had made a mistake in scheduling the teachers). This was one of the most delicate tasks - not to reveal the fact that their usual time for the lesson, the time he / she had booked the course for, had already been given to somebody else. Oh, how I hated that!

Not recommended for the easily offended

Liza, my British colleague, had no such difficulties: "I was just wondering if …." she said in a cheerful voice after some introductory remarks, and it did in no way sound like a hopeless situation. I was full of envy - we simply do not have a phrase like that! Well, it could be translated, but no-one really uses it. If somebody says: "Ich frage mich, ob….", which would be the literal translation, the other person would probably think (and, even worse, perhaps say): "Na und?" (So what?) Already reached a conclusion? What do I have to do with your inner monologues?

Meticulous and logical

So does this politeness thing boil down to a mere language problem? I am afraid not (which means I am sure, eh?). This takes us back to the gingerbread situation: What I was trying to show was the fact that 'we' ('the Germans', if there is such a thing….) tend to look at things meticulously (surprise, surprise!), even for the language. "The book says…" is not correct in German. Why? Well, is the book able to speak? People like to tease one another by reacting to 'illogical' questions with 'logical' responses: "Can you tell me the time?" - "Yes, I can".

Moreover, I personally think that having lived in a very 'serious' and deeply thoughtful society for generations, together with a certain grouchiness some people are obviously born with, has caused a profound aversion not only to being cheerful and bright 'for no reason', but also to serving and being served as well. 

A history of rebellion

"Find out for yourself" is what really counts, and don't play other people's fool. If you consider German history of the past 150 years you may find that this attitude might even be a rebellion against a strictly hierarchic and authoritarian society, where 'humble servants' had to be suspicious.

Well, it might be. Frankly, I do not really think the gingerbread shop assistant had thought about that….

But discussing politeness in English and German is not a one-way street. I overheard a conversation by two English guys in a Berlin pub the other day: "I said: You must come and see me when you are in London! - And he asked for my address!!"

They were shaking their heads in contempt. "Well, how come… - didn't he know I was only being polite?!"


To read more about Renate Graßtat you can click on Education - Language Instruction under Expatica's business directory.

Do you have questions about the German language? Write to Renate Graßtat and she may use your question in a future column.


Renate is currently offering new classes on "Survival German", Business Language, Understanding the Media, German Literature and Exam Preparation 2006. Visit www.learn-german.de or call +49 (0)30 615 26 35 for more information.

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108 Comments To This Article

  • MAn posted:

    on 30th June 2017, 13:57:39 - Reply

    This article is interesting. The author, while being German, assumes that societal norms of English speaking countries are by default adequate and to be adopted by other cultures. I do not think it is a good way of discussing issues like this. It would be more insightful and fair to say that different cultures have different societal norms, and sometimes there can be misunderstanding. I am not German, so I am not biased in favor of Germany. I think it is important not to jump to conclusions and take offence in situations that at first upset you, but it is important to think why people behave this way in other countries and it is important to learn more about societal norms of countries you are going to visit, This would be my advice for people who go abroad. Stay positive and be informed.
  • CulturalMistake posted:

    on 19th April 2017, 21:36:22 - Reply

    It's really sad to hear about all these negative experiences. But I think the main issue here is a cultural misunderstanding. In my opinion there are two different kind of "rudeness": First, there is real rudeness which you can find in every country. Second, there is a kind of social interaction in Germany that is perceived by some foreigners or tourists as rudeness.

    Therefore I'd refer to the given example of the text:
    "One of my colleagues recently asked a shop assistant in a supermarket: "Do you have gingerbread?" The reply was: "Davon gehe ich aus". ("I assume so."). She didn't move a muscle. Irony? Patronizing? Just unwillingness? My colleague turned on the spot and walked out of the place - even though he was German, too."

    In my opinion, this case is quite clear. The shop assistant would have moved a muscle as soon as there would have been another question like: "Could you (please) tell me/show me (then) where I can find gingerbread? (You don't even have to say please. It is enough if you let the shop assistant show you the way and say thank you afterwards)."

    And that's really the point: If you want something, you really need to say what you want! Don't believe that a question implies an action. You need somehow to "instruct" your counterpart what he can/should do for you and you put this "instruction" into a question ("Could you tell/show/give me..."?) or you say "Please show me then where I can find gingerbread."

    Therefore, if you ask something and the person says "Yes" or "No" or "I assume" and nothing more, ask your second question! Ask as long as necessary to get your counterpart to do what you want! That's the way how German get also through bureaucracy (although there you have to deal a lot more with loads of papers...).
    These Anglo-German cultural misunderstandings are also outlined here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-37799805

    It's not rudeness, it's a trait. In Germany you are much more likely to consider it the other way round as lying and impolite.
    For example, if you're being asked what you think about someones new watch and you say "great" although you find it really terrible. That would be usually considered as lying and therefore as impolite. You might not directly say "It's a terrible one", that would be too direct but you might say "I don't really like that kind of a watch but the most important thing is that you like it."
    Both ways are simply different cultural traits and therefore okay.
    So in general, if you ask a question you can expect to get it answered seriously - but without any further implications. In Germany there nearly don't exist these kind of questions where you can always give the same answer. If you ask "How are you?" it could be that someone says "I'm fine". But most often people will tell you more than just "I'm fine". And the question "How are you?" usually is rather asked to acquaintances than to complete strangers. So German talk is usually more private and people are more likely to feel alien when you ask a complete stranger "How are you?". It could be also considered as flirtation and therefore rather as negative.
    In Germany you usually only get in contact with people you don't if you need help (e.g. asking for direction) or if it feels really awkward (e. g. in a waiting room - than you might say "hello" and that's it).
    Exceptions are all longer enduring activities like participation in a sports club or cultural club ("Vereine"). Nearly everything where you meet people more than once.
    Oh and if you try to speak German and you're being corrected: Please, please, please, don't feel ashamed or offended! Almost always it isn't meant that way! The person that corrects you just wants to prevent that you might get laughed at if you're maybe about to do the same mistake again because that person hasn't corrected you.

    Some English native speakers find that even helpful for learning German: https://www.fluentin3months.com/german-hard-to-learn/

    So, to sum it up: There is real rudeness in Germany as everywhere in the world. But there is a trait which is perceived as rude but isn't meant that way. In every country, culture and language it is defined differently what is polite or impolite. And both ways are ok.
  • Josep posted:

    on 7th April 2017, 23:46:07 - Reply

    Who knows if that rude guy were some other nationality? Confirmation bias is another one of our worst enemies. That guy was a jerk who happened to be German.

    The war has little to nothing to do with it. Think of the Marshall Plan in 1948 and the prosperity that came after, and those who lived then are either dead or just old (thank you IBM and Eliza) Sorry about your experiences.

    @germansrerude and Mags
    Look up 'German etiquette'. Yes, it exists, and I am not making this up.

    They have their own humor, it's just different from ours. We Anglophones can't even comprehend it, so we get the misconception that they're boring.

    @stan wins
    Why smile at strangers in the first place? Emphasis on 'strangers'

    To everyone else, please feel free to find any tourists or expats who had positive experiences in Germany, and ask them if they had any problems. Even if you're not going back, you might learn a thing or two. I feel the positive experiences other tourists had are just too obvious to ignore, so I'd say it's a mixed bag, depending on attitude, location and age of people.
    And, it's also wise to not smile at strangers anywhere anyway.
    Just remember that German culture is different from Anglo-Saxon culture. Isn't travelling all about seeing how others live? This isn't rocket science, and to this day I am blown away at how difficult it is to grasp such a simple concept.

    I feel the comments thread should have been closed years ago after the last positive comment.
  • Adrian posted:

    on 8th March 2017, 02:20:19 - Reply

    It is terrible that more that after 5 years in Germany I only have sad memories.
    By the way I come from Spain and speak fluet German and have a lot of expiriences in another contries. I think that the fact that Germany lost the last most important wars of the Humanity plays a rolle.
  • Christian posted:

    on 28th February 2017, 14:01:47 - Reply

    I can buy the language differences and history as some sort of explanation, but I don't think it can explain away everything I've experienced. I've been living in Berlin for about five months, and I've found most Germans here to be quite friendly and accommodating. I have, however, had serious issues with some, primarily old men. I think the first time I really started paying attention was when I got elbowed (not a nudge, it was grounds for assault) in the ribs by an old man walking on the sidewalk. Apparently I was walking on the wrong side (you know, of the 15 meter wide walkway). We actually would have missed each other if we had both kept on straight, but he thought it his duty to teach me a lesson, walked closer to me and gave me a cheap shot, then yelled at me to move over.

    Another time, I was in a cafe, and I left my seat to search for a stronger wifi signal. I stood near the exit (about 10 meters wide, I wasn't in his way) for all of 3 seconds to download a document. Enter old man. He walks in, stops in front of me, looks me in the face, makes a reach for my laptop, I backed away from him, ask him what he was doing, and he says something along the lines of, "can't you go home?"

    I was once accused of stealing because I went to put something back in a shop (took it off the counter). This one could be chalked up to a misunderstanding and the fact that my German isn't that great, but it was still a weird experience.

    Aside from these, I seem to get dirty looks and stare downs from old men everywhere I go.

    I'm an average sized white, young man, for the record. This isn't a racist or sexist issue, and I can easily blend in here if I don't open my mouth.
  • Josep posted:

    on 9th February 2017, 06:27:19 - Reply

    Finally, some sanity in a thread of trollish generalisations!
    @everyone else (except for writers of the positive comments)
    I've never been to Germany before and I want to visit someday. I'm sorry to hear you've had bad experiences in Germany, but I've found some success stories of travelling and expatriation to Germany (I can't list them all, and I don't want to cherry-pick). You can ask the writers of said blogs how they were able to make it through. Maybe their advice can help you out next time. But if you refuse to go to Germany again, I don't blame you, but slandering the others just for the actions of a few is unacceptable.
    It always makes my stomach turn to hear how an anecdote can lead to slandering a culture of 80 million people under the same brush. I feel this article might be 'clickbait' that intends to do just that, since it has no mention of cultural differences (I don't know about slamming the door on someone else's face, though; I've never been there, so don't ask me).
    Long story short, you'll see rude people and polite people everywhere. If the people act arrogant or insult you, they're just being jerks, and that's it.
    My 0,02%u20AC
  • Gurkentoast posted:

    on 1st February 2017, 20:01:53 - Reply

    I found that article by accident, as I am a german myself and read it with interest. As I work in an international company and find myself quite often in other countries I know the issues with other cultures. Personally I try to be as friendy as possible and be open minded and try not to step on to much shoes. Still what I experienced is that to know about a cultural difference and experience it in large quantities is a very different situation. When I sit in a conference in one of the south european countries and everybody arrives 15 minutes later I know its not personally but it get on my nerves. However, I keep it to myslf and go on. I know US americans tend to be friendly, but when visiting North Carolina I was almost creeped out because the friendliness felt unreal. Especially as you could see that the smile was melting when the other person was leaving and there was no friendliness. Still I like americans, even if I find the overboarding friendliness from strangers in the privacy of my head not kind but creepy.
    But to come to the point about the rudeness of us germans. Quiet a few times in the comments the situation was popping up that shop people are unfriendly. Honestly: most germans will agree with that. We call it Servicew%uFFFDste Deutschland. But there is a certain reason for that (which makes it not better I know): Germany has hierarchies. They are not so open like in the past with kings and dresscodes and big titles. But they are there. A salesperson in a shop is from a social standing point of view really really low. One step above a cleaning person and two steps above the person who are cleaning public toilets. That means it is not "just" a low paid job, but that they get a lot of crap from customers. There are some wonderful people who still love their job and are friendly and helpful. But the friendliness of other salespeople were drying up in this very special hell of nasty customers. So some will try to strike back if they see a chance. And a not german speaking customer is an easy target, as there is a high possibility that they will not demanding to speak with the manager (still they try do it also to germans). If its just a non accidential misunderstanding of an question ignore it and ask again in more detail. If they come with crap like "you are sure you can spend that much money" or "used cars are sold here and there" ask for the manager. They are normally not amused about the behaviour of their employees. It happened actually to myself as well. I dared to wear a jeans when trying to buy a new kitchen....
    The point of hierarchy is also the reason why building a house can be very slowly. Its not just the bureaucrazcy. Craftsman have a not very high standing. Which is very strange, as some of them earn a lot of money and have a lot of employees. But if they state on a party "I am the owner of an plumber company" (and have 4 houses, one of them in Spain and my car is a Porsche) the people will say: "Eh plumbing? Ehem nice ehem" and go to the 35 years old jobless guy who studied Philisophy and lives still with his parents, but "you studied philisophy??? so cool!". With the result that we have a bunch of not needed academics and not enough craftsman. The craftsman we have are overrun with work. And I mean really overrun, the waiting lists can be endless. But because of the low standing its almost impossible to get more people on the job market. The companies are recruiting now in other countries to get workers. Which is funny because we have almost 3 Million people without a job. (And by the way: the waiting list is also a good sign of the quality of the craftsman. The same applies with physicans. If all companies and physicans of an city have weeks and month of waiting lists, take it as big alarm signal when one states that they have a lot of free time slots).
    We are not a perfect country. But no country is perfect. We younger ones try to be more open as we are aware about our faults. Still it is difficult to get your own background out of your system. A little bit will be always stuck with you. So if you facing issues with colleagues, friends or neighbours ask them why they do this and that. Tell them you are surprised because in your country its rude and you are curious. Most of the times they will be perplexd as they see their behaviour as normal and friendly. Doesn`t mean we will understand fully your point, but at least we will try to not do it when you are around to let you feel more comfortable. It is not always that easy especially if that behaviour is ingrained, but than remind us. My norway colleague still smacks us regularly verbally when we speak english around him. Because then his german will never improving.... and we answer sor.... ah... Entschuldigung. And life goes on.
  • vfromhere posted:

    on 18th January 2017, 23:48:21 - Reply

    Being German a lot of this stuff is hard to read - but I will not dispute any of it - those are the experiences you had.

    Having lived abroad now for quite a few years I do find some of the German manners and way of speaking breathtaking myself. Some places, like Berlin, are famous for being rude, even among Germans, while places like Cologne are more jovial.

    My friendly piece of advice to you to make the contact with Germans a bit more easy:

    Treat them (us) like slightly autistic (no offence to the autistic intended): We lack social grace, come across as aloof, detached and unfriendly, have difficulty interpreting a friendly smile. But don't take it personally - it isn't. We are simply not very aware. Doesn't mean you have to love it, just don't see it as a reflection on you, it isn't.
  • ABC posted:

    on 1st January 2017, 18:32:59 - Reply

    Came across this article....have to agree with the general sentiment- of all the nationalities I have met, Germans have been the most impolite, arrogant and racist. For all their speeches on inclusion, ethics and professionalism at work, they are simply a bunch of hypocrites unable to accept the fact that they are no better than the rest of humanity.
  • Paula posted:

    on 5th November 2016, 15:25:02 - Reply

    completly agree!
  • elinor posted:

    on 4th October 2016, 01:08:24 - Reply

    I'm sorry you had this bad experience. I live in Berlin and have noticed that most locals are racist and act superior towards other europeans too. They have a lot of self-hatred and are envious of happy people. They always want to take from people, and are malicious and tortured inside. There are a few exceptions of course. One should pity them but not allow their nasty behaviour. In your place, I would have thrown your friend out!
  • Augustus posted:

    on 26th August 2016, 13:47:34 - Reply

    As one of my German colleagues once said: "Even Germans don't like each other".
  • Yegenia posted:

    on 16th August 2016, 01:02:03 - Reply

    Although I am only a Pure-Chinese Woman, German-speaking males expected me to speak in a male-genitive case, and that is not okay. Truth is, The European males that are of Manasseh would only be with females that speak in a male-genitive case. And the rest of the European Males that are of Ephraim would serve to accommodate European Woman, and speak in a female-genitive case to female that are of Manasseh.
  • Lindsay posted:

    on 13th July 2016, 13:57:00 - Reply

    You are korrekt of course.
  • Barbara posted:

    on 12th July 2016, 19:19:31 - Reply

    "Please dont forget the English language has a different tune and many more words." No. That
  • Jared posted:

    on 6th July 2016, 07:36:42 - Reply

    Well I read the articles here and I feel for you. But you are all missing one important thing...Germans dont look for friends or superficial talk which is what everyone else is used to. I have lived here for exactly 10 years now. Ask yourself this, have you dont anything in the community, offered to help your neighbor? join any sportsclubs? anything whatsoever with mainly groups of Germans? All I can say is I have done this. Its been 10 years and I have been ''accepted'' by most and everyone seems to be friendly just not with so many words. When someone is rude, just be rude back with a smile and they will probably laugh. Please dont forget the English language has a different tune and many more words. Please remember there are nice people and not everywhere ;) And I live in the heart of Franconia so it was definately no easy task!

  • Tobias posted:

    on 30th June 2016, 23:47:10 - Reply

    Haha, I am working full-time in a supermarket in Bavaria and I am using the exact way of answering.

    People do not treat me as a real human or worker there, they just bark "Sauerkraut" in my face. And I respond with: "What do you want to know about it" or something like that. I mean, come on, you could be a bit more precise. We store people are not Google which you throw any word or half-sentence at and it will let you pick from a variety of possible answers (dictionary? cooking recipes? Wikipedia? Pictures how it looks like? Market prices of Sauerkraut?).

    If you ask "Where is the Sauerkraut", you get an answer. But I do in 9 out of 10 cases respond the way described here but I usually look at the people's face and smile (sometimes out of joy of remind our customers of a bit respect towards the clerks).
  • karimsalah posted:

    on 29th May 2016, 20:56:08 - Reply

    iam in a eurotrip nowadays and yes iam shocked of how i got treated by germans in shops in asking for something in the streets mostly they need to be taught how to help other people and if not help just be only polite please !

  • Cat posted:

    on 14th May 2016, 15:58:24 - Reply

    FYI "other cultures" pay into the German social-welfare system too....and Germans are the best at taking advantage of the system. They know all the loops and holes....
  • GILBO posted:

    on 11th May 2016, 13:43:21 - Reply

    i have lived in Berlin for 8 years now ,before that i lived in Bavaria for 10 years, i find Germans ignorant , and unhelpful and unfriendly , here in Berlin i find them the worst, i think it has something to do with that most are from the old east germany OSSI's, and also i am always complaining about their driving skills, they all go thru red lights ,doing 50 in a 30, 120 in a 80 limit ,but being married to one of them i just get on with it 

  • Porfirio posted:

    on 27th March 2016, 15:00:00 - Reply

    Well, if you don't like Germany, you shouldn't be there. I've lived in Germany for three years and couldn't pick a better system for my kids to grow up, travel and socialize. My 5yo speaks two languages fluently and speaks conversational English. Yes, Germans are a pain in the ass. They are mechanical and socially incompetent according to most western societies. But they are extremely predictable. You'll find that Germany is entering a generational shift. With so many other cultures taking advantage of the German social welfare system and all the refugees, you can expect a different Germany in 2030 and beyond.
  • LostInTranslation posted:

    on 19th March 2016, 14:19:12 - Reply

    Wow there are so many comments that I agree with and have personally experienced. Germans seem to think of themselves in one way(as any country or group). But the experience that people feel when they are coming from outside varies in degrees. When we came to Germany only for vacation, I thought wow people are so inclusive and nice and kind, warm etc.... So when discussing where we wanted to live I said oh it would be nice to live near family. After living in Germany my personal opinion is that Germans seem to be going overboard to seem inclusive, 'we love everyone'. But they seem to only 'love' americans in doses. They want to support what Angela Merkel has proposed with allowing Syrian and Turkish migrants to come over. The politeness of it all, it's the right thing to do, Germany would never turn its back on anyone. Meanwhile the people I speak to at work and socially do not seem to really want to have refugees from anywhere. Personally as an American and from previous experiences, I am not really quick to accept the masses. Not anymore, but living and working in Germany I have learned to filter and to always respond with the most polite and accepted response. While thinking of that classic Poltergeist moment 'All are welcome....', are we really. Is there a place where everyone is 'welcome' and there is not one person that feels that they are not really wanted? Seriously, I am asking is there a place?
  • Valerie posted:

    on 22nd February 2016, 16:16:44 - Reply

    I did a quick Google search today when I got home from work and found this article. (I know it is a few years old). For me, it's another day of 'I can't wait to get home and away from these people.
    I have been here for 14 years. I have done everything I can to adjust my attitude, believe me. However, still, after 14 years, I am still not happy here. Actually, I love being in Germany, but I find it an almost daily fight with the people when I am out and about running errands, going to the supermarket, etc. Some days are stress-free, but the stressful days out number them, I'm afraid.

    I am so sick of rudeness, unfriendliness and just this 'me first' attitude.

    Why do I stay? I have one big thing here I am involved in that has been a long-time dream of mine, and that one thing is going really well. Sometimes, and I hate to admit this, I wish this thing would stop working out, so I could get the heck out of here!
  • TinoTrivino posted:

    on 18th February 2016, 01:41:28 - Reply

    Hello My Friend, believe me, not all Western Cultures are like that, we spanish people are completly different, our entire culture isnt excentric or egoistic, i can assure you, you would invite me to Sri Lanka i would make a huge party with you and your family, also shown you my own Culture and the similarity we may have, we were once an empire.
    Also, i would LOVE to know about your rich culture my friend. Please dont be annoyed by silly rich people, they have no real manners, i know a lot of western folks even germans who are open minded.. hugs to you my friend and your Family and may God always guide your path.
    Tino from Toledo, Spain
  • Hopper posted:

    on 30th January 2016, 00:05:34 - Reply

    I don't want to stereotype all Germans, but someone I considered a friend came to visit me in sri lanka recently and she was incredibly rude. Like others have mentioned, had zero curiosity about the culture of the country she was visiting. My family let her stay, fed her and took her on trips entirely for free and she never offered to pay for even a tank of petrol. We stayed over at an acquaintances' place for a few days and I had to remind her to thank them for their hospitality. She didn't try to strike up any conversations with ppl we met even if they could speak good english. My dad suddenly had some work to do so couldn't take her anywhere during her last week with us and as soon as I told her that, she got pissed off at me, changed her flight to the day after and left a week earlier than she was meant to! I mean, if it wasn't obvious that she was taking advantage of our kindness then that sealed it. And she complained to a mutual friend of ours that everyone in sri lanka kept talking in a language she couldn't understand so she didn't have a good time. Well, duh! You're a tourist! When we dropped her at the airport, she didn't even thank us, and I was especially annoyed by how she treated my dad like he was a driver or chauffeur instead of, you know, my dad, who was being nice to his kid's friend. My dad was pretty hurt by it cos him and my entire family really made an effort to welcome her and introduce her to sri lankan culture and food and sights. If she came in with the right attitude she would've had the best holiday ever. But she didn't. So her loss.

    It's really put me off ever offering any western friend of mine that kind of hospitality again. Sri lankans pride themselves in being hospitable but a tourist has to come with the right attitude. I feel sorry for her. We did so much for her but she couldn't appreciate any of it. I also was told this is her first time ever visiting a third world country like SL so it was probably a huge culture shock. But well, if you're a tourist you have to be prepared for culture shocks. The last straw was she threw a gift my aunt gave her in the bin and i found it when i went to clean her room after she left. It was a very modest gift and probably not worth much for a german, but seriously? I can't fathom taking advantage of another person the way she did. If I ever visited somewhere I would do my best not to be an inconvenience, and I would always be grateful and ask anyone helping me how I can help them and compensate them. I guess that's the cultural difference right there. I haven't spoken to her since then and honestly am not interested. However way she treated me the way she treated my dad was so offensive. I'm considering she might even be a bit racist and thought we were beneath her or something. I don't need people like that in my life. This experience has really made me more cynical about trusting other people. And I feel ashamed for what i put my dad through because of her. She probably doesn't care at all.
  • Mia posted:

    on 16th December 2015, 23:34:41 - Reply

    I have to agree you meet a lot of cold, critical, and unfriendly people here. Its a generalization of course as my boyfriend is Austrian and I have friends here and know lovely people too. I struggle with German but try my best. There is the idea out there that it is we don't speak or try to speak their language that may exacerbate the problem. I have found however, it doesn't help that much as far as politeness or friendliness goes. In most other countries they appreciate your effort and attempt to understand and help you out. German speaking countries are the only places I have been tuned out or openly sneered at unkindly for making mistakes, mispronunciation, or my accent. My boyfriend is actually Austrian and when I complained about thus happening he just laughed and told me several jokes they have about foreigners making common nonnative speaking errors. They were generally mean spirited in nature jokes. I myself don't know any jokes about making fun of nonnative English speakers but I know there are examples of people making fun of accents. There are people in every society or country who act like that it just seems so pervasive here. They are formal which is fine, that doesn't bother me but their way of being formal can be condescending, judge mental, and just a veil for a cold type of rudeness. They seem to delight to see flaws in others and tell them what's wrong them.
  • GoSomeWhereFriendlier posted:

    on 17th December 2015, 13:54:38 - Reply

    I'm from England. Lived in Berlin now for over 4 years and am pretty much fluent in the language. Imo, Berlin is fun for a short weekend in the summer but I wouldn't recommend anyone to consider living here. Berliners are literally the rudest people I have ever met. Not all of course. But without any exaggeration I would estimate about 2 in 5 people I come across are cold, impatient, arrogant assholes. Even many German friends of mine here acknowledge with a sigh %u201EYep, that%u2019s Berlin!%u201C. Other German cities like Munich and Cologne seem ok so I'm not qualified to say if it's a German thing or not. If it is then it%u2019s particuarly more extreme in Berlin. Go into an average supermarket there and just ask a member of staff where something is (preferably in German). You'll almost certainly get spoken to like you are something off the bottom of their shoe and that you are totally interrupting their day. They really don%u2019t see the need to be pleasant or helpful either as an employee of a shop or as another human being! I'm also now used to never bothering with my Ps & Qs or making small talk with most local people, in shops etc as they%u2019re really not into small talk with strangers. Sad really.
    There is an overall inability in their culture to never admit fault (Hioutthere%u2019s comments here attempting to justify extreme rudeness to that poor little girl is just case in point. Shame on you Hioutthere!) and to always come down extremely hard on others who make a mistake. %u201EKlugschei
  • germansrerude posted:

    on 3rd December 2015, 20:41:35 - Reply

    the law can only mandate against certain obvious actions.

    in germany in the absence of a general populous driven common good, where the law instead is the final arbiter of right and wrong almost anything which isn't caught by the law goes.
    so while you cannot insult someone by calling them something directly you can do many other things which are insulting to have the same effect. as the law is commonly held as THE moral compass there will be few to no sanctions from you social group or society.

    it is frankly disgusting and i personally want to have little to nothing to do with people who act like that irrespective of whether i am the target or not.

    and oddly enough you cannot film people here so there is little to no counterbalance. all in the name of 'respect' of course.

  • Pat posted:

    on 16th October 2015, 18:18:22 - Reply

    The great irony is that in Germany it is illegal to insult someone. btw Anglos and Germans, there are other alternatives between fake politeness and overt rudeness.

  • lily posted:

    on 15th October 2015, 05:39:44 - Reply

    German people are very rude . Today, I was seated and listening to a lecture, a German woman suddenly came in and dragged a chair, squeezed me away to sit in-between me and another student ! What kind of manner is that? German manner ?

  • elinor posted:

    on 10th September 2015, 20:26:11 - Reply

    I agree with this post. Although coming to Berlin with an open mind and good intentions, I decided to leave now because as Guy says, local people's unpleasantness rubs on you and makes you miserable. In a couple of years, I have met few pleasant/kind Germans, the majority are bullies, frustrated and mean and intend to ruin your day as much as they can. German women are usually not very feminine, and thus envious of feminine women and ladies. Lately, a supermarket staff violently shoved her cart in my back and face because I was wearing a cute outfit and a skirt!!! My french girlfriends all have similar stories of violent behavior to share...The worse is that you get to see expats who become bitter for simmering in that nasty environment. I agree that you find kind and rude people everywhere, but having lived in other countries, I have points of comparison and wouldn't recommend anyone to come and live in Germany.

  • GuestFromGermany posted:

    on 25th August 2015, 14:20:16 - Reply

    In every country you can found rude people and kind people.
  • Connor posted:

    on 19th July 2015, 14:15:21 - Reply

    I think German rudeness is definitely an inherent part of the culture, as opposed to a national problem, as the people of German descent in North America are just prickish as they are in the homeland. I have never understood why it is that the French get a bad wrap for being "rude". French people are some of the nicest people I have ever met.
  • BillCravens posted:

    on 13th July 2015, 21:10:37 - Reply

    Quite true! I'm an American and I am ashamed that so many of us make little or no attempt to learn foreign languages. I studied German in college and can still carry on a decent conversation in the language. Strangely, though, when I have contact with german colleagues in our company, I do not get as much practice speaking german as I'd like, since they seem intent on speaking english. I suspect that many Germans are proud of their bilingual education, and it may be more important from their point of view to show that they can speak English than it is to help foreigners practice their Deutsch.

  • Nay posted:

    on 8th July 2015, 22:09:05 - Reply

    everything what the writer said is true. coming from asia, lived in spain and france and now in Germany i wanted to cry every single time i am surroundings by german. please no offend but yes you guys are rude people ,in the female toilet, i was busy with my phone and i didnt see the line or who in front of me, and this girl just pushed my self with her back, i was shocked, and i said, you can speak young lady, well doesnt mean i stole ur line and precious 1 minute faster to pee. In spain or france or asia people might smile and use eye contacts or speak... like excuse moi, and both can laughing.

    and this happening many times in a public place that people pushed me just bcs they want to be there 2 seconds earlier than anyone else. If this is u said educated people, then u are so wrong.

    Germans would also fight until people said ''Yes You Are Right''. they really want to be correct but dont want to be corrected.

    of course not all, but MOSTLY
    they cant even make bread.

  • Hioutthere posted:

    on 9th July 2015, 19:25:05 - Reply


    I am German myself and have come around the world quite a bit. (41 countries up to now)

    First of: Among those on this site who moan about "German rudeness" a handful of examples, like the car seller or the exchange boyl, I would find rude myself. BUT some rotten apples any society produces.
    Most other so-called examples here are made just to rant or show the self-centeredness of the writers. You can see by just looking how the phrase their complains, that they consider their own standards above all others. Friendliness and rudeness in their eyes are measured only in their terms, not those of the country they visit. An example: Who made grinning stupidly at strangers the worldwide standard as an expression of fun, politeness or joy? Nobody! It is great that you do so in your homecountry, but NOT ONLY in Germany but several other countries as well smiling/grinning at total strangers has serious negative connotations. Context rules on this. In Germany smiling at strangers can be polite, but it is highly situational, like e.g. you want to flirt.

    To the guy going on how Germany is all lifeless, funless, etc: Germany can party with the best, the reason you never found out about that is simple. Just reading your post makes it abundantly clear that despite your claims to the contrary, you either never made an attempt to get contact to locals or you simply are miserly. Going by your post, the latter is the most problable.

    To the woman with the little Girl: While your friends mother was overly blunt and could have toned it done a bit since you were a foreigner, I understand why your friend felt (rightly) insulted. We Germans value directness and straightforwardness in comunication. And with close aquaintances and friends it is natural to open up. I, for example, know the ailments and what not of my friends quite well and nobody judges. Pardon me, but you totally overreacted! I hope you two can sit down one day and get reconnected. This mega-sensitivty to directness is rather strong in the US,Canada and Britain. A friend of me is married to a Canadian and his wife had serious problems with German directness in the beginning. It took her years to acclimate, but now she is used to it and prefers directness in most situations herself. (Even if in some cases her "Canadianness" comes through :-)

  • Victor posted:

    on 17th June 2015, 16:24:21 - Reply

    One of the most powerful ways of expressing intelligence and thoughts is through humor, which Germans and Specially Germans living in Berlin, to my believe, lack. Lived there for 4 years...
    I would actually say Germans in Berlin are rude because they don't know any better, which kind of shows their unwillingness to adapt to other ways, from their perspective, be clear the think they do better so they believe in the right to be rude and not to be pleasant to others, there's no need for that because they haven't learned even within their family, how to engage emotionally, with themselves, let alone with others.
    It can be exhausting for the rest of us who are brought up within different emotional speeches or emotional education.
    To agree with the blogger, they really are precise, so it's kind of true that their humour might be based around playing with that strong trait of their upbringing: be precise and try to show as less emotion as possible, or you'll be perceived as weak and unable to perform tasks.
    However - for most of us - that humour isn't funny, or especially smart. It comes off as a barrier and it's quiet off putting. It might also come from a place of insecurity, their insecurity to engage in conversation with someone they don't know. Therefore they stop it by being rude. They do it for themselves really not for you. So I'd say: don't try to teach a pig how to sing, it annoys the pig and it wastes your time - take that energy and put it at use someplace else, it will do wonders.
    That cultural trait they have though, has proven very successful, it works well in the market actually, go to a glass maker and they'll make you the perfect precise glass to drink water from, go to an architect and they'll be optimal and eco-friendly, which is amazing about their culture, but seems not the place to find an engaging joyful person.
    I guess they fill that gap with their industry which , actually I admire, it's normally the most optimal, practical, forward and ecological approach that there is, found in abundance throughout their country, not that we are not to find such things in other countries, but it's remarkable of their society the consistency of delivering great products whatever they might be. They are in fact a very curious society.
    As always there are pros and cons when we establish a comparison, the smart approach would be to take the most positive learning experience out of every situation, and not to hold any grudge against their rudeness, accept it and laugh with it! and if it gets on your nerves, move someplace else! The experience will serve you well anywhere you go.

  • Chris posted:

    on 7th June 2015, 09:27:27 - Reply

    I was in a relationship with a German guy who fell for someone else. He decided to tell me precisely what happened and what he felt for the other person in meticulous detail. He actually thought his honesty would help me move on. From my English point of view, he should have said NOTHING. He could have broken it off with something superficial, like "I think things aren't working out, I don't feel the same way etc" . However for him honesty was the supreme value, even at the risk of destroying my life. Polite fictions and hypocrisy are important in English speaking countries--in order to preserve the other's feelings. I am not sure that is the same elsewhere.
  • Mags posted:

    on 14th May 2015, 10:40:26 - Reply

    LOL! Exactly. A deep sense of suspicion and a methodical indoctrination of selfish behaviour, coupled with an aversion to anything fun, different or joyful.
  • Mags posted:

    on 14th May 2015, 12:14:54 - Reply

    Germans, perhaps rethink your criticism of other nations as being "superficial". Politeness and kindness do not equal superficiality. Consider your extreme emphasis on material wealth, consumerism and economic domination. Not to mention the "stranger danger" syndrome. THAT'S biased AND superficial.

    Yet you consider human values and kindness to be superficial? Its time to re-consider your values Germany, or it'll lead once again to the attitudes that allowed Hitler to take hold. Extreme arrogance and selfish acts, to the peril of all that are "other".
  • Mags posted:

    on 14th May 2015, 11:03:02 - Reply

    Ditto, Melina. After 4 years I can happily say that there are lovely people here BUT the lifestyle, the atmosphere, the daily life..is charmless, fun-less and harsh. I am half - German, and speak German fluently, without an acccent, so I do not even endure the racist slurs. Yet still, I find it depressing! Such a rich country, such a poor lifestyle!
  • schwitzer posted:

    on 15th May 2015, 08:24:26 - Reply

    We Germans can also be very polie, but you save much time if you won't tell everybody your whole life story. If we're not in a hurry (what we're very often) we will talk almost endless to each other. Also we great almost everyone.
  • SteveJobs posted:

    on 15th May 2015, 08:26:20 - Reply

    In my opinion you're all a little bit rude, because you're all say Germans are rude, but you can't say Germans are rude, when you just met one or two Germans in your whole life. The most people say, when one German is rude, the others are, too.
    I think Germans are not a master in politeness, but they aren't rude, because they do their best to help everyone.
  • KaiUweHackfresseSchlueter posted:

    on 15th May 2015, 08:43:14 - Reply

    In general I don't think that German people are rude. It's just another kind of politeness.
    But when I was in London I was surprised how polite the English people were.
    On the one hand if you meet a rude German you can't say, that all German are rude, but on the other hand there IS a difference between English and German politeness.
    Sincerely Kai-Uwe Hackfresse Schlter

  • IBM posted:

    on 15th May 2015, 14:52:06 - Reply

    I doubt that you ever talked to old people who had been under Hitler's influence as most of them are dead or too old now.
  • G posted:

    on 19th March 2015, 15:09:38 - Reply

    English people are no better.. maybe because they make no effort to learn a language wherever they go, they have to speak ENGLISH... So automatically it's like you are not open to other people's language. So why should we please you all the time? It's also hard sometimes for people who are not used to the british accent... and the more you can make it clear, the more we could think you take us for your fools... this is why you think we are rude, we are just responding to your questions.. and if you cannot make a minimum effort to ask a simple question like do you have gingerbread, then what the hell are you doing in this country that does not have English as national language????
  • CH posted:

    on 5th March 2015, 12:59:15 - Reply

    As an American married to a German and living here I get everything that is said. My husband agrees that Germans are cold and he's from the old "GDR" and has learned and seen alot from the the western part of Germany. We now live up north in the Hamburg area and the folks up here are arrogant. It's makes me chuckle. Yes neighbors are very nosy which doesn't bother me they just stare and like to know whats going on. The thing is that in the US people would "keep an eye on things" and well here in Germany I don't think if something was going on that anything would happen. As for another comment where people were eating and someone was seizing and nobody helped even though over 100 people are around? Thats pathetic!!! It's happened to me here at a huge grocery store where a young man collapsed and nobody did anything!!! I did of course help (a nurse in the US) and had them call for ambulance. My husband got pissed and said why did you help he was probably a drug addict? He wasnt, he was a type 1 diabetic that was hypoglycemic. He comments how did you know? Experience. BTW, Germans dont like it when a non-German is right. Everything is "in-the-box" with no deviation. Black or white only. Another thing, so Americans are superficial by being nice and talking to strangers. Really? So thats superficial? Living in Germany for a while now I see that Germans like their stuff as well. They like quality does that make them superficial?hmmm? OHH and how they embrace other cultures and people of other skin colors??? What a joke. I've been all over Germany, I can count on one hand where I have seen multi-racial interaction. I have never seen multi-racial breaking of the bread (eating together) The media says Germany is an open-arms country that loves diversity-Spare me. The diversity here is eating a doner or going to a greek restaurant. Again the media portrays Germans as tolerant towards others but just my observations its not the case. I do like it here dont get me wrong, there are so many beautiful things with the culture but as in America it's far from perfect. As for German women, from what I have seen they age a bit quicker (lack of SPF/moisturizer/smoking maybe?) and look a bit harder, they appear like they wear the pants in the family and are not so feminine. That's not all German women its just what I see more times than not. I also have learned from German men that German women are arrogant. Just putting it out there. A smile is nice instead of a wrinkled scowl face/perma wrinkle frown that is a common thing here. I know that Germans like to stare and it used to creep me out but I stare back and smile and they will stop staring or smile back. I will take being a nice insincere American any day than being a rude cold human. A lesson in common decency goes a long way. Whats with the blowing of noses in an eating establishment!!! NASTY!!!! Body secretions are for the restroom or the bedroom. Yes, Germany has been voted by surveys as positive influence. But the taxes of the people who make a substantial amount of money is close to 50% which is bananas. Healthcare is expensive too how is 800 euros a month a good thing?
  • CB posted:

    on 18th February 2015, 18:37:35 - Reply

    I have lived here over 20 years.. and the term "rude" is relative to where you come from... It was hard to get used to living here but now I understand more and have lost respect for my old country where mindless chit chat and insincerity abound. Don't forget Germany has been voted ( 3 years in a row) as the country with the most positive influence in the world.. ( go and google it BBC survey). They are deep and don't and hardworking and and dont let people go hungry and without healthcare as they do in my country. On the outside they are gruff and serious and could use some lessons in positive reinforcement and positive thinking but don't expect your Anglo/american standards of who is rude and who is not I would rather have sincere than superficial...
  • MyLee posted:

    on 17th December 2014, 23:30:12 - Reply

    We are currently in Prague having visited Berlin and Dresden christmas markets this week. The experience in Germany was spoilt by rude and arrogant individuals. No not all but enough to draw the conclusion that this race does not do 'polite'. The same occurs when in their company on holiday in Spain. They are delberately rude full stop. I saw an old man drop his walking stick so I picked it up for him. The look of contempt on his face was stark. No 'danke' whatsoever. Another man smashed into me on purpose while crossing the road. I turned back to look at him and he was glaring at me. No apology there then. Today in Prague a man brushed past me in the street and turned and said sorry. It was a revelation to hear manners. Yes Londoners and Americans can be blunt but I have never known a race that deliberately attracts negative criticism like the Germans. There were some nice people but they were in the minority.

  • Joe posted:

    on 18th October 2014, 13:00:12 - Reply

    Oh yeh and german can be pedantic know-alls, reserved and suspicious, I agree.
    Being reserved is a trait they share with other northerns as well.

    Being patronizing and suspicious is partly expected and partly due to insecurity.
    I always remember the scene in the Lord of the Rings movie where the husband of the old, grumpy hobbit couple has an occurence of joy and is instantly order back into grouchy-mode by his wife with nothing but a frown.
    That pretty much sums it up :D

  • Joe posted:

    on 18th October 2014, 12:31:40 - Reply

    I haven't read all comments but as a german let me add some ideas.
    There seems to be those who consider germans plain rude and some who consider their behavior simply as direct or blunt.

    Now there definately is a time and place for germans to be courteous or "höflich", as we say.
    Both words stem from court(eng)/hof(ger) and indicate the expected behavioral codex in aristocratic enviroments.
    I am pointing this out to show that the concept surely is no stranger to german culture and the apparent lack there there of is not due to barbarism.

    My feeling is that german society has decided to give social interactions a bit more of a "no BS" spin, because as it was pointed out, some politeness can be too fake and a rather pointless waste of time.
    There may also be a anti-authoritarian aspect to it.

    Now among other problems, this leads to these rather awkard "gingerbread situations" where any subtext can be ignored by interpreting speech verbatim.
    It might not be meant in a rude way as it would fit within the modus operandi of effectiveness and precision (don't waste any time! :D ).
    Instead he should have asked: "Where is the gingerbread?". Period.
    Or to be slightly more polite: " "Where do you have the gingerbread?"
    Or: "Where can I find the gingerbread, please?"

    But in fact there is good bunch of assholes around who take advantage of this cultural norm and find ways to e.g. ignore you by deliberately taking you literally and these are rightfully deemed to be rude

    I make a distinction between being cultivated and merely civilized people and overly blunt germans are the latter.

    So those people who wrote how they decided to laugh it off are spot on as this is an immature behavior.

    I could go on but that is just to give a bit of a perspective.

    Some german bluntness can actually be pretty refreshing and affectionate.
    So enjoy your stay :)
  • Dr Reshma Anjum posted:

    on 11th October 2014, 16:40:45 - Reply

    In my opinion. Everywhere is good or bad people. Luckily I met very helpful and friendly Germans. Memories from germany is best part of my life. Whenever I remember I got a smile on my face. I always get helping people on railway station bus stop. Nice people. I would like to return germany again and again. I learnt alot from my German friends and colleagues. Good hearted people :-).
  • Herby Agnew posted:

    on 1st October 2014, 17:18:35 - Reply

    This article sums up German culture rather nicely! For years I've tried to explain to people here in Georgia that the German language simply doesn't allow concessions for overt "politeness." Having Heidi Klum send off contestants on Project Runway is the best example of German directness: "You're either 'IN' our you're 'OUT'!" - there just typically isn't an in between in the German culture. So being frank, logical, and straight to the point gets confused or misconstrued as rudeness by many other cultures. But I've learned to adapt with sweet tea and the occasional "bless your heart..." :-)
  • Jain posted:

    on 1st October 2014, 14:50:24 - Reply

    I find that at times Germans are not only Extremely rude but most of the time Extremely Arrogant. Which is very annoying for someone who has come to live and is spending money in the country. Only the other day when my lady wife
  • Heba posted:

    on 6th August 2014, 21:35:43 - Reply

    Yes I guess the last paragraph sums it all ,I am Egyptian not even German a colleague once asked me if I want to drink some of juice she bought when I took it she said but I bought it to drink it . I thought that was really silly why would she offer me juice if she wants to drink it embarrassing not only her self but me as well so yes though Germans are blunt yet it's also cruel to say something you don't mean
  • Danielle posted:

    on 9th July 2014, 01:56:28 - Reply

    I've also met some Germans (but only in passing) whom have been kind or smiling or helpful. And honestly, they are either young people whom are proud or OK to have a conversation in English (and want to have a little network) or SOME old people (which I would never expect, as they have been exposed to Hitler and these specific German idealisms) who smile or try to help even if it's in German. But with smiles and enthusiasm you can communicate with hands and feet. Unfortunately with the majority of nasty faces I come across - whether they are young kids or old people, you will not receive much.

    Conclusion - a nation or a culture will make you feel more welcome when there are smiley people.

    Somehow if I were a millionaire in Domican Republic I think I'd have a much better life as a queen rather than a middle class living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world filled with (mostly) rotten and stinky people.
  • globetrotter posted:

    on 14th June 2014, 16:55:23 - Reply

    I've been in Germany for a bit more than 4 years - came as an engineering student and stayed on as an engineer with a German company. I came to this country with no preconceived notions really - in fact I was looking forward to studying in a country known for its engineering and make friends. But Germans turned out to be a really cold, impolite and rude bunch in general. All the friends I made made during my studies were from abroad - Chinese, Turks, Americans, Indians, Iraqis, Iranians. Almost all of these people were on call when I needed help. If I needed help from a German, I usually had to make an appointment days in advance - this despite the fact that I helped these very Germans rightaway whenever they needed it. At work the Germans criticise each other to the extent that it hampers progress. And they are more than ready to walk out of the conference if our international colleagues can't speak German. I had a co-worker send a reply to an Italian colleague in German even though she had sent the mail in English - insisting that since the headquarters of the comany are located in Germany, every employee should be obligated to speak German. So much for being open to other cultures. I am just waiting to gather a bit more work experience and then I'll move abroad even if my pay takes a hit - there's only so much left here after taxes anyway. I'd rather be with cheerful and polite people even if I am a couple hundred bucks a year poorer than confront grouches at every nook and corner.
  • Maggie posted:

    on 11th June 2014, 02:05:23 - Reply

    Please tell me is empathy that hard for Germans? My girlfriend was the maid of honor at my wedding and I threw her a baby shower. My friend says that I don't appreciate her culture And I acted like a typical American. "Doing whatever I want." I am sick to my stomach from this. People just stared at Abby's braces. Only a adult s and children smiled back at Abby. The whole thing has made me feel depressed and creeped out.
  • Maggie posted:

    on 11th June 2014, 00:30:06 - Reply

    Just got back from Germany, what a nightmare. I was supposed to stay with a girlfriend who is German but has immigrated to the US. We were supposed to stay in her mom's house in a lovely village located in the Black Forest. She brought her three year old son and I bought my three year old daughter. Sounds great right? Wrong. My daughter has problems walking due to a birth defect. She is pretty, blond, bubbly and will hug strangers. Abby is such a fighter and has made so much progress in her therapy. While at playgrounds and in the street, three separate times random German parents asked me "what was wrong with your child?" My friend's mother even asked: "didn't you know about this defect when you were pregnant?" (I guess she was implying that I should aborted Abby.) I was so upset that I packed up and went to a hotel. I left for the airport shortly after that. Now that my German girlfriend says that we are not friends anymore. She says that I insulted her mother and betrayed her trust by leaving. She says that it was a honor to even be invited and it was rude of me to leave over the mom's "just talking" comments.
  • TaimaChan posted:

    on 1st May 2014, 13:39:39 - Reply

    Such good points.

    My colleague and friend of my mother is German and people are intimidated by her directness though she is anperfectly nice, outgoing person with a good sense of humor. This article does highlight how indirect and abstract English can be under the guise of 'politeness' whch I fond strange as a person with Aspergers syndrome. It becomes even more apparent when English people speak to foreigners with little understanding of English; if you tried to translate what they were saying it'd still seem abstract and indirect or idiomatic. I self study Japanese for fun and the more I look at English the more I realize Japanese and other notoriously 'difficult' languages aren't actually all that idiosyncratic or weird with levels of formality by comparison.

    Germans know most of us are crap at English so it is easier for everyone if I order my lunch in Berlin in English but with brief exchanges they seemed to appreciate me using German. How many French people say excusez-moi or sil vous plait in England? It'd make us feel odd and irritated

    Actually when touring Berlin with other art students they tried everything they could to get a negative reaction out of Beeiners including climbing on a government building but they were treated with bewlidered glances, politely ignored or shooed of at the very worst. England embarrasses me sometimes. We must look at ourselves before criticising the rest of Europe.
  • Citizen x posted:

    on 24th April 2014, 18:38:26 - Reply

    There are grey zones in life and there are good people and bad people. Sometime when a foriegner meet a bad situation and with anger would say all people from this land is bla bla. This is wrong; however, one have to say Germany is most country put under the microscope for the discussed subject.. British people second. I do not know why, but i believe its about unity and formal politics.. Germany in the past 100 years wanted to lead the world and even after world war II they wanted to be economically strong and build the best nation with their own hand.. They have to still be proud of their achievements, language and scientists accross history. But a good person should be kind and proud but not get arrogant. Same for muslims who led the world in golden age (when europe was still in dark age) and still produce great scientists till present time and there are arabian countries with very profound and great heritage, culture and scientific contributions etc... e.g. Egypt. Everyone should be proud, but not arrogant. At the end we all die and leave this earth and earth crust moves and sand fly with wind .. So who died as British my be buried in the ocean without any nation. We are different and diverse, because this life is rich! There will be always a good and bad example in every country. We just have to find our way when we are in forigner situation and try to enjoy time with real friends and forget about strangers!
  • Dieter posted:

    on 19th January 2014, 20:44:49 - Reply

    I am a german and I read the article and also the comments with lots of interest. Some points I can agree with others are too superficial and generalized in my opinion. Abroad I am often feel ashamed by some of my fellow citizens because of their behavior and lack of interest in foreign cultures. But similar experiences I made also with english guys and I think it is common to all nations that you will find a percentage of persons with no interest in the way of life of the visited country. In my personal behavior the described politeness in talking and writing is also a theme where I have deficits. Maybe this kind of acting is one of the reasons why the german economy is more successful than the english. In our direct rude seeming way we start working if others are still busy with talking and writing polite phrases. Most important is to admit to the culture as far as possible and the experiences you will take are well. I work in a german company with subsidiaries all over the world and met so people from each continent, color and religion. With most of them I have a well working relationship, only a few are difficult. So how you face another person it will mirror your emotions also in germany. Without doubt you will find a few humans where it does not work... If you find failure in my text or grammar you are allowed to keep it and I am sure you will find some. I apologize for my poor english, unfortunately languages are not my greatest talent. [Edited by moderator]
  • stan wins posted:

    on 20th November 2013, 17:57:54 - Reply

    something that i really surprised me when i visit germany,( and i all ready did that over 10 times ) is not just ... if you ask them they simple told you that this is directness..but thats bother me is that they never smiling to you! even if you are entering in a shop to buy something. i never felt more awkward in life. [Edited by moderator]
  • killswitch247 posted:

    on 25th October 2013, 14:38:16 - Reply

    hello from germany, i read this thread and have to add a few thoughts.

    at first to western tourist who cried because he/she got his/her heart broken by a shop assistant: why do you cry because of a shop assistant unloading his/her bad day upon you? build a wall around yourself or this world will eat you alive. just because someone else has bad mood, you shouldn't let yourself pull down by it. but more generally: in germany the 'customer is king' principle doesn't work the way most foreigners are used to. the shop is the shopkeeper's house and if the customer is rude and/or an idiot he gets corrected in an appropriate way or simply thrown out. keep in mind that the usual costumers are germans of course, and if you read this thread, you know what the shopkeepers have to put up with.

    but if you - as costumer - think you have been treated unreasonably you always should demand to talk to the shop assistant's superior and ask him whether the company dislikes foreign costumers. this should be enough to make them be friendly. there is, of course the extreme: the car salesman who asks 'wollt ihr was?' is as insulting as possible without using swearwords. i definitly would see his boss and demand an explanation and an apology.

    about the fake friendliness: i feel good when i achieve something or because i have a good time with people i like. but i would never feel good because a random person tries to make the world better with a faked smile or some played friendliness. why? because i don't let communication with random people scratch on my feelings. no matter if it's a random smile or a random rudeness. I just don't care, and probably most other germans do the same. but this means on the other hand, that i'm very interested in the persons and things i care about. i don't think germans are generally rude, we just generally don't care about random strangers. and we don't expect random strangers to care about us.

    and with that i come to the last point: the one who helped a man with an epileptic attack. it's common knowledge (at least here in germany) that you can't help that much during such an attack. you can try to turn the head sideways, provide a pillow and clear away anything that provides an injury risk. you should NEVER try to hold him down (this willl injure the muscles). all germans learn that when they get a driver's license or during military service. that's why no one did what you told them. more generally spoken, 'unterlassene hilfeleistung' (denial of aid) is a crime in germany and you can go to jail for that.
  • The truth. posted:

    on 2nd October 2013, 14:10:33 - Reply

    I've been married to a German lady for 10 years, been together for 13. We lived in England together for 10 years and for the last 3 have lived in Germany. Firstly, I'd like to say that every country has it's idiots and that i have lived all over the UK, worked in most of Europe at some point or another and traveled across North America for several months. Even my wife and i got married there. Everybody is different, however, Germans are very straight and generally see nothing wrong with things like staring, holding you up for no apparent reason and don't expect apologies from them. If i ask in German with my English accent shining through for the simplest thing they'll just stare at me. I talk with my German family members fine, they understand me, but to strangers I'm just another foreigner. I hardly bother now, i just speak English, if they stare i say hello and wave, ask if i can help them. Don't for one minute believe this German efficiency, we've just finished building a house here and let me tell you it has been a joke from start to finish. If anybody every pulls that efficiency card on me i shoot it down straight away. It simply isn't true. ...A prime example happened the other day, I was cycling with our 3 year old daughter on the back in a carry seat on a cycle path, we come to a crossing to cross a roundabout with an island in the middle to break for pedestrians and cyclist. A lorry pulls up to the roundabout leaving enough room for pedestrians to get to the island behind him, however a lovely gentleman in his Audi pulls right up behind the lorry preventing eveybody else from getting across the road. If he can't go, we can't go right. I've seen it often. Germany as a whole is okay, but I'm afraid as a nation it rude. [Edited by moderator]
  • Western tourist posted:

    on 3rd August 2013, 19:19:56 - Reply

    I just want to add that I'm traveling in Germany now. Originally I was so looking forward to it. I had some Germany friends, met some Germans while I was traveling at other places, and met some Germans who have moved and lived in my home country. All extremely nice people, which is why I said I know not ALL Germans are rude. But as soon as I get into Germany, all my lovely thoughts about this country that I had before I arrived are all broken. My heart is broken, a shop assistant almost made me want to cry today. Now not have fake politeness doesn't make people cry. I know I'm just a tourist but hey, I'm a person too, and I want to come and like and enjoy your country. [Edited by moderator]
  • Western tourist posted:

    on 3rd August 2013, 19:09:18 - Reply

    Ok let me start by making 2 points clear 1) I know not ALL Germans are like what I'm about to describe, but a significant portion of the, are, and this portion is enough to irritate me greatly 2) a point about "fake politeness"- Yes some westerners can be overly fake in their politeness, which irritates me as well, like the last example given in this article (but that is not the point today). however, there is a juge gap between fake politeness and just being blunt and rude. this is what i am going to talk about. I have see some comments above are saying things like "we Germans are not fake unlike you westerners" ok Similing at strangers walking by is NOT fake politeness, it's a way to warm up the whole neighbourhood, so we don't live in a cold and depressing life. Your polite smile may make someone's day. They may be walking around with suicidal thoughts but your 2 second smile makes them realise there are still nice people in this world. Fake politeness will be asking strangers to come inside your house to have a beer with you when you are not actually planning to let that happen (similar to the last example given in this article). You help tourists when they have problems, how's that fake politeness? What is so far about it? It's only fake when you prentend to help them when you really don't want to, in which case just say "sorry I'd help but I am short of time just now" or "sorry I'm not sure, I can't help" Or "sprry ,y english is not good" Any of these will be better than just walking without a word. Today I have come across 3 rude shop assistants and 1 nice one. It is the bad experience that makes people remember for life. It's sad and not just but is true, so really you can't blame it when tourists say "All Germans are rude". Yes that is a generalising statement and it is NOT true but in the end of the day you can argue and win by pointing out that the statement is flawed but the tourists are still gonna feel upset [Edited by moderator].
  • mary posted:

    on 5th June 2013, 16:04:27 - Reply

    I've spent most of my life in California/Hawaii. I came to Germany cause I met my partner in Hawaii who was there only for a short time. I finally decided to come and live with her while she is finishing her PhD studies in Germany and then return to Hawaii. Yes, it can be extremely difficult here. And as my colleague who just returned from Africa says, 'You really have to fight for your joy here more than in other places.' I have found that keeping to yourself is the best way, finding your own joy and smiling at everyone you pass. Granted, about 1 in 50! may have a tiny little smile returning to you and when you do receive that its like Christmas. Even though the overall collective atmosphere can break your spirit, there is still quite a bit of beauty on this planet. Forgetting all nationalism, we are one. so, stop and smell a flower or pick up some trash someone just threw on the ground. someone will see and even if they walk away never thinking about it again you still caused one tiny ripple of consciousness. Thank you for this thread it gives me peace to know that I'm not alone with my struggle to find peace in this area of our world. [Edited by moderator]
  • Pam posted:

    on 1st April 2013, 23:31:19 - Reply

    I have been living in Germany for going on 23 years and have not and will never get used to what I perceive as many Germans' rudeness and lack of social skills. Example - when I have invited non-Germans to my home they will always find something nice to say about it. Most of the German women I have inviited, however, have somehow felt the need to find something to criticize - "it would be nice if....," or "wow, nothing matches." Another example - my German boss looks at my hair and says "you really need to get your roots done." Another example - a tile layer who was doing some renovations, and who I served a cup of coffee to - "this cup is chipped." I mean seriously. Those are only a few of the hundreds of examples I could write about.
  • dalia posted:

    on 16th March 2013, 23:42:15 - Reply

    I was really opened and had no prejudices, when i first came to Germany. After spending 3 year in three different German cities i can say: cold, square and boring people. I've nearly lost my joy of life thanks to this super oppressing surrounding. Now i live in Berlin and have bunch of friends from all over the world,who are also foreigners, but no Germans. They are better in communicating with machines than to other people.
  • Andy posted:

    on 14th February 2013, 22:14:16 - Reply

    Germans are not rude, they're just not friendly and not talking flowery like the Brits and think smile means flirting. I'm fine with it, what stress me out is the habbit of criticising everybody and everything every single day. the negative thinking. [Edited by moderator]
  • Doris posted:

    on 25th December 2012, 14:21:18 - Reply

    The German people I have met are probably from the polite category but I have found them to be very snobbish in time, appearances, social status and money matter a little bit too much. However I have also discovered that many German people, men and women that are in a relationship and even married are addicted to online flirting. I think that is being very rude to your partner, the relationship that you have and the people you may get in contact with through online social networks.
  • Jesete posted:

    on 18th December 2012, 17:04:14 - Reply

    I have to say I am very sad about all those negative comments about germans. I know that we tend to be very direct and not too polite. I had to learn this is the case while traveling and working with my egyptian advisor at college.

    However, chatting with people from around the world, talking to them and traveling as much as possible I tried to handle this problem in my very own (and still direct) way:
    I tell people that if I am rude or acting impolite I am sorry for that and that I do so because I don't know better. And I ask them to tell me if I hurt them or said anything wrong - or maybe even replied honestly to a rhetorical question like "Hey. How are you?" .
    I tell them that I am used to answer honestly and that don't hide behind a smile if I don't feel like it and it is very hard for me to act. I was raised to be straightforward, to say what I think.
    I hope this is the right way to deal with it, because - in the end - I don't know if they're "polite" again, nod to what I am saying, say "Yes, of course" and start chatting behind my back. But I made some very good friends this way.

    Some of them actually told me that this "warning" was the best I could do, because it made them think about alternative explanations for my behavior instead of just "Oh. She is rude!" but eventually "Mh. Maybe I should explain to her that this is considered as rude behavior."

    I had one strange encounter when I travelled the very first time in a group with US-americans. They were the first americans I got to know in person and they were so open, so friendly, so nice... I was surprised and thought they actually liked me.
    I found out they were chatting behind my back, although they knew me for like two days. It broke my heart, it really did. I had this cultural gap, I thought people would tell me if they don't like me and want me to stay away. But they didn't. They acted so very friendly and polite and stabbed my back from behind. It built up a lot of mistrust. I thought about telling people "If you don't like me, please tell me and I will stay away from you. Just don't act as if you like me and talk behind my back..." but another american said to me that this might be not the best idea... because (aha!) it was too direct and IMPLIES that the other one is talking behind your back.

    I consider myself as a german of the "young generation". I smile. I am direct, but I always try to be polite. If you ask me to show you the way to certain destination, I will tell you, even bring you to that place if possible or show you where you can find this information. If I see someone in a miserable situation I will always try to help him somehow.

    Personally I don't want to live in a country where I had to "fake a smile" all day just to fit it. I think you can be direct and polite at the same time. I just don't want to lie, because it can hurt so bad if someone finds out you've just been "polite".

    For all those living in germany and not feeling comfortable with this country:
    I really hope you will feel better here, soon. And I hope that you will meet more people who make you feel welcome. And if not, I hope you can move and find a place to live that makes you feel happy again.
  • Manny posted:

    on 16th December 2012, 10:16:38 - Reply

    I'm a US Servicemember. My wife has recent Swiss/German ancestry. I'm stationed in Stuttgart Germany, and I travel all over Europe. My wife is well travelled too and has numerous friends and acquaintances throughout Germany. In our collective experiences we would say its fifty fifty whether we encounter a rude German or a polite one. It is my opinion that when Germans are rude they are offensive by American standards, and when they are simply indifferent they are perceived as cold and rude. I believe a good take away for all of these posts is this: smiling and showing basic compassion provides a common denominator that all people around the globe understand; it mitigates confusion. The young Germans we are friends with understand this and practice it. In general I find all Europeans to be indifferent or cold by American standards; it's a cultural gap.
  • Nina posted:

    on 20th November 2012, 15:26:59 - Reply

    I have to disagree with this blog. [Edited] Especially if your German is bad and you come from one of the "inferior" countries. The moment they hear you struggling with the language they tune you out and treat as if you should be honored that they even looked at you! I am talking about service here. I can't tell you how many times it happened to me and my husband that the personnel in a store look away from us when we address them in our broken German. Especially if you we go into an expensive store. And if you are not dressed up, forget it! They'll give their best to show you how unwelcome you are. I'll give you an example: A couple of years ago we were looking into buying a new car for me. Where ever we went they were pretty rude and uncooperative. The worst one was in a Citroen dealership. We got in there (wearing jeans, jackets and ball caps as we were not going to a theater) and the salesman took a look at us and said: "Wollt ihr was?" ("Do you want something?"). Used to their rudeness, we looked at each other and decided to give it a try hoping his behavior would change once he learns we are buyers. So we asked about some cars there and he looked at us and said: "Go down the street and to the right you'll find our plot with used cars. You'll find something there" and he turned away from us! We tried saying that we want a new car but he didn't even bother to turn back... That is NOT a matter of language difference. Not to mention when I was buying cigarettes at a gas station where we used to be regulars. I had to repeat several times to the worker "Ein Marlboro Light und Gauloises Rot" and at the end she said" DU muss Deutsch lernen!" (You have to learn German). Last year for New Year's, our landlord insisted that we come over to them for a glass of Sekt. My best friend was visiting, my husband was sick but they wouldn't hear no for an answer. So they said at which time to come and my friend (who doesn't speak German) went up with me. He opened the door and said: Yeah, we're not done with the dinner. Come in about 20 minutes..." I was shocked! Then why did you insist we come at that time?! We invited them over for Thanksgiving (my husband is American and I am Serbian) at 18h. The next day he comes up to me and asks if they can come at 18.30h so he doesn't miss his wally-ball game. OK. So today he sees me with our dog in the garden comes up and asks if they can also bring their daughter over (who doesn't live with them) because she never had Thanksgiving dinner... Now, imagine what would happen if we did something like that to them?! [Edited by moderator]
  • Eliza posted:

    on 27th October 2012, 22:35:12 - Reply

    I have to say this was a relief for me to read. I moved to Austria a couple years ago and while I've certainly met some nice people in that time but the overall the majority have been cold to actually hostile seeming to me. I came here with no negative preconceptions about how the people would be. I am a mild mannered person who grew up in a small community where it was normal to smile and say hello to people you met and be polite and helpful. The cold, judgemental, and at times negative or harsh responses I get from people here has been hard on me psychologically at times. I guess I've learned to be stronger in ways and not so reliant on positive responses from others for self worth but its also made me see others in somewhat of a less positive light which I don't think has been a worthwhile trade off. I appreciated the author pointing out the translation difficulties may sometimes make things sound harsher than intended as I still struggle with literal translation myself. I suspect though that those of us coming from cultures where at least a certain level of politeness, civilty, and social lubrication between even strangers is expected would find other some other european countries a bit cool, especially northern european. We don't get home more than once a year but my husband's work sometimes takes us to England and we vacationed in Ireland last year. I never thought it especially before but since living here when visting these places the people now seem so warm and friendly, I just want to hug them! Lol. I also think the idea that its due to the Nazi Germany past may be over estimated. Most of the younger than 40 or 50 year olds I talk to don't feel personally connected to that or responsible any more than most Americans today feel cultural inferiority due to slavery or abuses of Native Americans. There does seem to be a component of inferiority and need to feel better than others in some of the worst offenders I know but I'm not sure that historical background is usually the source of the problem.
  • Chuck posted:

    on 26th October 2012, 14:48:29 - Reply

    I'm 58 year-old American man who's lived in Japan most of my life. I'm a little surprise to read such harsh criticism of Germans because I've met many here in Japan and the vast majority have been nicer, on average, than some people from other countries.
    I agree with those who highlight the inferiority complex as a cause for rudeness and that the outward superiority is really an unconscious attempt to hide an inferiority complex (i.e., a weak ego or self-image). But Germany has no monopoly on the inferiority complex.
    Any person with a weak ego has no basis within himself to satisfy his craving for self-worth. So, he seeks some larger group he is a part of and then glorifies that group in order to "safely" glorify himself. Epictetus called this the illusion of vicarious merit.
    I believe that most ultra-nationalism (including fascism) is rooted in the inferiority complex. Adler pointed out that those who feel inferior try to "over-compensate" by working very hard in order to be great and glorify themselves and their group. But again, this psychological illness does not afflict only by Germans by any means. American neo-Confederates still vociferously defending the "Lost Cause" of the South after a century and a half. When the U.S. lost the Vietnam War, most Americans seemed to feel bad not because it was an immoral war but because the U.S. lost. Not surprisingly, the ultra-nationalist Reagan won in 1980, and most Americans didn't seem to feel bad when he quickly began supporting fascist governments in Latin America. The point is, he was making America "strong," and thus pacifying this post-Vietnam inferiority complex.
    I am something of an Anglophile, so I'm very sad to see this kind of tendency in the U.K. now. Despite this article, most of the surveys I've found say conclude Britain is the rudest country, and many of the people who think so are themselves Brits dismayed by the breakdown of civility and social order in their country.
    Because people who feel inferior and want to identify with some "imaginary" group, they bash other nations or seek a scapegoat, such as the Germans. Sometimes I think if I see one more WWII movie I'm going to vomit, but Hollyood and London keep churning them out, demonizing the Germans. All I can say is that, on average, the Germans I meet here in Japan are nicer than the people I meet from other countries. But, perhaps this is because they can sense I don't prejudge them. I let them know I appreciate their culture and do not blame them for the crimes of the Nazis. (Read "Are We all Nazis" by the (Jewish) American Hans Ashkenazy.)
    It is the same type of people who bash the Germans who come to Japan and vent anger at what they perceive as rudeness or prejudice by the Japanese. I ask for the details of the situation and invariably find that the foreigner, frequently Australians and (I'm sad to say, Americans), is himself usually the one in the wrong, having either totally misunderstood the situation or insulted the Japanese out of flippant disregard for or ignorance of Japanese culture or customs.
    Remember Matthew 7:5: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
  • Guy posted:

    on 15th October 2012, 03:17:38 - Reply

    One other thing. When we first arrived we noticed that most other expats had a very negative attitude toward the country, which was particularly noticeable on forums etc. We were very much against this at the time and thought these people should try harder or go home and stop complaining. A few years later, we find ourselves sounding just like they did.
  • Guy posted:

    on 15th October 2012, 02:52:05 - Reply

    I'm caucasian, widely travelled, highly educated, friendly, very patient and tolerant and generally not too worried about what anyone else does or thinks as long as no-one is being abused. I brought my family to Germany several years ago because we had always been curious about the country. At first we found it relatively pleasant here but as time went on it has been increasingly challenging. A significant portion - perhaps the majority - of Germans are, by and large, rude and shameless. I have some fantastic German friends who've spent many years outside of Germany and consider themselves much more polite and civilized than the average German. Even these close friends with their enlightened ways truly have no idea how blunt they can be. [Edited by moderator] It's amazing to see and it took a long time for us to admit that the problem really was the people. Every week we observe another situation where we are just amazed at the new lows our local Germans can reach in their bluntness. We've tried almost every conceivable approach - warm, friendly, charming, kind, patient, sympathetic, assertive, aloof, blunt, overbearing, aggressive, impatient, rude, etc - with our friends, out and about, in business/professional situations and with our neighbours and there seems to be no particular way of dealing with them that helps generate universally better outcomes (except in business, where the winning strategy is to be as blunt and assertive as possible at all times). I honestly worry that we will end up taking some of this unfriendly, unhelpful, impolite, attitude back home with us if we stay too much longer. So far we have survived by trying to see things from the German perspective where we can. The problem with the approach is that the German perspective is just so limited. I do love many of the Germans I know well and want only the best for them, despite their odd ways. I have written this here not to lash out at the Germans - I don't think they can or even want to change - but to help others who have been or are going through the same things to feel less alone.
  • hector rojas posted:

    on 10th October 2012, 01:30:09 - Reply

    For latin americans it's extremely difficult to live in Germany because of the contrast in national temperament let's say.
    I think it is wrong to say that Germans are more sincere just because they are suspicious of people smiling at them...considering that smile as fake...
    This is like saying that all Germans don't smile therefore all of them are more sincere. They are just people like everybody else and there will be good people just like there will be crooks, some will be knaves, cheaters, etc...

    It is a fact of life that it is not easy to make friends in Germany because of that "Closed-circle" they have in their culture, and when you make there friends as anywhere on this planet, you will find true friends, as well as people who just want to take advantage of you...etc.

    Don't make this national idiosincrasy of theirs as a God-given talent which is not, they are just different. There is good people and bad people everywhere!
  • Lara posted:

    on 12th August 2012, 03:51:06 - Reply

    I came to this site after a few years of soul-searching. As a German expat living in Canada, I have to admit I agree with most of the negative comments about my own country which is the reason I gladly left for a job offer. It has been way over a decade since and when asked why I would trade a wealthy country for another, I always point out I grew tired of the rudeness and Canada creates happiness. I have experienced the same in East Asia. Yet, it is hard to get the German out of a German and there are still moments when I do not respond as politely as expected in my host country.
    I cringed when I read Lisa`s comments above about the bossy ignorant exchange student with lack of curiosity. He truly missed his opportunity to explore how Jewish families of survivors have started new lives in North America. I also cringed when I read about the German engineering boss in Chicago in another comment who over-engineers until complications strike back. Sounds too familiar. And, of course, I am aware of “statistics” out there that list German women as the ugliest – of which I must exclude myself...
    Here are a few random thoughts:
    Rudeness, sarcasm, criticism, harshness, Schadenfreude, aggressiveness, perceived misery, lack of flirtatiousness, stranger anxiety, judgemental and know-it-all behaviour – it may all be rooted in early childhood. I have observed how warm parents interact with their infants and young children in many other countries with frequent hugs and attention. Not much of that in Germany. Mental stimulation and arguments are exchanged early on, values of honesty, punctuality and functionality are instilled early but simple kindness and love from adults to children is amiss. Most of my peers and I grew up like small machines and the general feeling is: sink or swim. There is not much kindness to pass on to society unless we learn from other cultures and do better with our own children. What is perceived as rudeness by others is rather the attempt to be truthful and “rational” at all times as is expected in Germany. It takes a long time to realize the damage.
    Manners and politeness – they are or rather used to be taught and empathy does exists, however the “sink-or-swim” mentality overshadows most of it until a more relaxed and personal situation is established. Also, unlike in Canada, kindergarten does not emphasize social values in Germany. I am told it is rather a loosely supervised group gathering.
    Being miserable, grumpy, critical most of the time – while living in North America, I notice this with Germans as well with visitors from East European countries. We seem like algae that filter all the evils of the world and flush it out wherever we are. Reasons unknown, maybe genetics, maybe the early childhood theory above.
    Great thinkers, poets, engineers – from an overseas perspective it rather seems like too much thinking, too much talk, not enough hands-on approach and tendency to over-engineer. Yet there are a lot of well-balanced German professionals out there.
    The ugliness attributed to us – well, it may start with a lack of great hairdressers and a geekiness in clothing styles. It may be our miserable attitude carved into our Caucasian faces or the excessive consumption of bread taking its toll. As for women, however, it may be part of being told we are to appreciate our individuality, be self-sufficient and hard-working, thus the global view of feminity, sexuality and beauty enhancements are frowned upon in general. I did not mind this kind of freedom back in the day but realized it could be offensive to other cultures.
    To conclude: there are not a lot of places in the world where Germans would not clash with cultural values. Mind you, similar conflicts arise between other nations and religions. If a blog like this can help to ease mutual understanding, great. If not, we can still resort to avoiding any kind of media, travel, globalization.
  • doe posted:

    on 31st July 2012, 21:37:02 - Reply

    maybe it encourages some people to bash other nations besides the germans.
    i found this within 5 minutes of googleing about other "rude" nations.








  • Doe posted:

    on 31st July 2012, 21:22:17 - Reply

    you can enter any nation in here. Are ........ rude? the same answers from foreigners living in one of those countries. if i want to i can complain about just anything. been born and raised here. my father is german/french my mother cuban. immigrants always have problems with the locals. has nothing to do with the "germans"". go to any country. there will be immigrants whining. yes it's true. germany has a good social system and there are immigrants who take advantage of that. imagine you get more money for not doing anything AND an appartment paid AND free health care. more than you would have with a full time job in your own country. [Edited by moderator] i have been to alot of countries and people are not more or less rude than germans anywhere else. i grew up really really multicultural here in germany. have been friends with all kinds of people of all kinds of cultures nationalities and races. polish, russians, romanians, germans, brits, french, vietnamese,african, turkish, marrocan, indian, american ( mostly, grew up and work with them) and alot of others. and i really can't see a big difference. there are good an bad ones everywhere.
  • Liz posted:

    on 18th June 2012, 23:57:14 - Reply

    I came to this site to try to understand Germans. I am an expat living in Munich and at times I find it VERY hard to live here. I am not going to say that ALL Germans are xy or z, I have met my fair share of super friendly, sweet Germans. But then the bad apples just really makes things depressing... anyways, I just wanted to thank PHIL up above, who is German himself, for some of his observations, particularly the one about the fact that germans can be rude to each other and then they walk away and don't give it another thought. (Meanwhile, after a negative encounter, I can't sleep for 2 days...) I think in order to survive my stay here I'm going to have to *try* to adopt that strategy. And yes, I do speak German, fairly well, just to be clear. Thank you, Phil, for taking the time to write your post. (and others as well, this post was therapeutic for me today, after a rough interaction this evening. :-)).
  • Melina posted:

    on 14th June 2012, 17:47:40 - Reply

    Yes Germans are bossy and all. But they do make reliable, royal husbands/ wifes. It takes A LOT for them to change their habits, they really should love you and trust you to not to be suspicious and stubborn. After 9 years with a German, I feel tired and feel the joy of my life is sucked out of me. But now after all these years -mostly- giving he loves me, trusts me, I'm in his "trust zone", he wants support and is craving for love and attention. I think, for Germans, they only have very few people they love and trust. They don't love easily, they really should think that you are "super", "a lot more interesting" ,"hot", "more clever" than them. But when they do love you, they do everything that will make you happy. And they afraid so much to lose you. They are reliable, they never cheat or be violent. They are just grumpy people who -once you learn how to- be nice to live with. They take you to holidays, give considerate gifts, can make cosy homes but they won't want "others" in.. only the few people they love and trust who has to shoulder their bad habits -basically only you!-, who has to be strong in return for genuine love, loyalty and reliability. It's not for everyone. But if you fell in love with a beautiful, clever German, it is not too hard to live with them. You will be happy on occasions. They are not perfect but after hard work, most CAN be perfect, They only have to truly love you and trust you. Once again: not for everyone. [Edited by moderator]
  • USxPat posted:

    on 27th May 2012, 20:57:57 - Reply

    Hey, Wow, This is Totally Uncalled For! I used to feel the way you do. Now, after living in Germany for 2.5 years, I feel the way most of the others on this site feel. Have you ever LIVED in Germany for an extended period?
  • Wow, This is Totally Uncalled For! posted:

    on 15th May 2012, 16:36:57 - Reply

    Germans are a very creative bunch -- just think of all the composers, artists, and writers that comes out of Germany. And Germans are not cold or rude. They just aren't fake and hypocritical like other westerners. German history is reknown for its Romanticism. If you don't know what that term means then look it up, and judging from the comments here I would say most of you don't know what it means. I have seen more rudeness in French Canadians than Germans. I have seen more rudeness in Americans than Germans. You're all stereotyping. [Edited by moderator] Aren't you doing the same exact thing that you accuse Germans of?
  • Firefox on Ice posted:

    on 28th March 2012, 17:03:53 - Reply

    None of us has chosen where we were born.

    How can one person even hate an entire country? We have nothing to do with anything that happened in the past, almost 70 years ago (I wonder if that's even need to be mentioned), yet we are reduced to that - in discussions like these that have a completely different topic. Even three generations after.
    A lot of us try to hide the fact they're German because it often ends up in redundant discussions about wwII.

    The younger generation these days is way more friendly and open than the elders. But smiling at these people sometimes helps. Oh, and do not worry, we also suffer from our bosses and authorities sometimes. ;)

    Just smile at us and I assure you we will smile back sooner or later.

    Good luck and have fun
  • Tom posted:

    on 15th March 2012, 16:00:55 - Reply

    Judging from this, I'd say it would be much fairer to say "posters on this thread are rude" than "All Germans are rude"! I'm English but can't wait to move back out to Germany. I would agree that German officialdom and bureaucracy can be infuriating, but in what country is that not the case? I lived in Germany for almost a year and several years later am still in touch with friends I made then. I've never seen any evidence of this "superiority complex" that some people are going on about. I find the directness of German much more appealing than the English way of basically lying to people in order to seem "polite". I suspect that the majority of people posting about how rude the Germans are are people who haven't bothered to learn any German or really tried to get to know people in Germany. What would you expect to happen if you addressed someone in German in New York or London? [Edited by moderator]
  • phil posted:

    on 1st March 2012, 01:56:13 - Reply

    adding to my post, i agree a lot with "Huckfinn" posted. i think that is exactly the problem. germans don't even realize it anymore and don't see that around the world there is another level of friendliness. once people start it, it might spread just as the rudeness spreads.
  • phil posted:

    on 1st March 2012, 01:30:25 - Reply

    wow. i am german, and i do agree that the typical german all-day life might be a bit 'grey', charmless, cheerless and depressing, which also has an affect on german people's mood and their inability to change anything about this. the typical social structure makes you a bit sad and angry, also at other people, which then again kills the other peoples good mood and so on. it's basically a catch-22, when all it needs is just a smile here and there to break the circle (germany is working on this though ;-)). yup, all this might be true, yes. but, boy, i have never seen so much hatred towards a whole nation and all its millions of different people on one page. [Edited by moderator] anyways, the author's intention was also not to blame the 'rudeness' on directness all alone. he DID critize german behaviour, he just tried to search some reasons for it. i think the key is to not take germans and their behavoir so seriously, because we don't do it on our own. if a shopkeeper is unfriendly, i am just as unfriendly and we may share some not so nice words, but we turn around and both don't really spend another thought on it (and know that the other won't do either), while a foreign person certainly will. in general, i have to agree with the tone here in general. just not with the intensity. germany isn't that bad of a place. i have been to numerous countries so far and also to the us twice, and while i don't see a lot of difference from germany to most other (esp. european) countries (yes, i said it!), there is no doubt that americans are by far the most friendly and kind people i have met during these trips. i remember when i went shopping with my aunt (who is american), every time i entered a store, a girl was awaiting me with perfectly white teeth that she was presenting through her huuuge smile, asking me "hi, how are you?". i was pleasantly surprised, stopped and said "i'm fine, thanks, how are you?". all confused, her smile disappeared, and after a short "fine" she turned away quickly and threw a weird look to her colleague. i went through that procedure 3 or 4 times in different shops until i realized it's just the common way to say 'welcome' and that i made a fool out of myself the whole time. i'm just saying that for germans, that (fake?) friendliness is very unusual and we first have to get used to it. maybe a little injection of that would make germany an all around happier place and more enjoyable for foreigners. just don't be too hard on us. we have to learn a lot, just like any other country also. (btw, that superiority complex is absolute bull. actually, germany has problems with being able to actually like itself. the shame of the past is also still a big factor. if anything, there is an inferiority complex.) @ the woman with the german homestay kid (lisa?): you are a grown-up mother and he is just a kid. if he is behaving unfriendly and inappropriate, tell him that! you can not expect a kid to be already the perfect guest with perfect manners and perfect knowledge about your countries habits at the point when he arrives at your place. asians are very unique in that aspect all around the world. things are the way are with this kid now, so try to make the best of it. you also have to put in some input on that, and since you are older, more experienced and in your own country, you are more responsible for harmony than a kid is, don't you think? so what if he made a remark about the smell in your house? he is used to do that in germany, how should he know? smile it away and inform him that people aren't that direct in canada. you two had to meet somehow in the middle, iyour task is to 1.make him move towards you and 2. to also make a few steps. as i said, whenever he is unfriendly (i do admit, he is!) go ahead and confront him. no worries edit: i just saw your last comment, in that case i have to apologize for my 'harsh' words. i still would have expected a thicker skin and some more parenting skills with dealing with such hard cases, to be all honest though. go, give him! xD
  • lisa posted:

    on 12th February 2012, 07:25:07 - Reply

    Interesting. I've just heard via another student that the other German kids did not like my kid: they thought he was rude. So, in an effort not to blame him, it looks like I've been blaming German culture. When it was him all along. Sorry Germans!! Lesson learned. Still don't want another German though, just in case :0
  • lisa posted:

    on 19th January 2012, 23:20:19 - Reply

    it's the vibe he gives off of never being wrong that is part of what I find exhausting about "our" German. There seems to be no sense of not offending the host for him. I was told by the homestay agency that the German kids like to debate everything, they think it's a sign of intellectual rigor. But that's putting it in the best light: it's not just arguing about stuff , it's also if I repeat something I said five months ago he frowns and says "ja, I know" in an irritated voice (whereas Canadians might say "Oh, I remember"), it's that he is very brusque and - I know this is not their fault - their accent is not generally easy on the ears. He tends to sound like he's barking at my children when he talks to them (gives them orders at times: that's another thing, as a guest in my home, albeit paying, I don't expect him to be correcting my kids. If I ran a hotel I would not expect the hotel guests to be telling my kids off either). I think he's very brave coming to another country, he's polite in regard to carrying groceries and that sort of thing, but overall the culture gap is too wide. Not his fault at all, but just I think Germans are outside our comfort zone. Interesting that the gap seems too hard to traverse between a European and our family, whereas it doesn't between our English-Jewish background and the Asian kids. Mind you, some families love the German kids as they prefer to know what the kids are thinking and don't like that some of the Asian kids keep things to themselves more. Me, I prefer not to have to have access to my homestay's inner dialogue all the time, but some find it bracing. [Edited by moderator]
  • lisa posted:

    on 25th December 2011, 18:33:19 - Reply

    Forgot to add that when we try to pronounce something German, stollen for example, as in "I bought you a nice stollen because I thought it might remind you of home at Christmas" he _always_ feels the need to laugh and say "ho, ho, for me this is very funny. You say "stolen" and we say "schtollen". Or perhaps with another word we're saying it correctly but not with a German accent. [Edited by moderator]. I wasn't sure if it was being away from home was it: hard to tease apart what is Heinz, what is being a young man, and what is being German. Sounds like a fair amount is cultural.
  • Lisa posted:

    on 25th December 2011, 18:27:42 - Reply

    Whew! What a relief to read this. We have homestays and while I asked for a Japanese girl, this time I got a German boy. Now in some respects he's very nice: helps me carry groceries, does his homework, is polite in some respects. But the culture gap is Huge! I've never felt this with the Japanese kids we've had. He Never says "thanks for the nice dinner" or anything approaching that (and I'm a good cook). He does, however, complain about how we're not serving him pork and rabbit (we're Jewish, so no pork). I've tried explaining that Canadians do not eat rabbit but he's pretty oblivious that complaining about something I can't fix is ... not on really. He bosses my son (younger than Heinz) around something chronic, seems to have a real distaste for the Asian kids at his school and is utterly, and I mean utterly, lacking in curiousity about his host country. We took him to an Asian mall this week and I would have thought that might have sparked his curiousity, but he just stood by the door to the stores with his arms folded. (and that is typical of his overall lack of curiousity about where we live). He's efficient to the core: he's here to learn better English, anything else is a waste of time.

    I feel he means well, but his social graces (to our way of thinking) are entirely absent. I've found, in general, that Germans are way too blunt for my comfort zone. We have one normal, self-washing cat, and he told me that when he first came here he thought our house stank of cat "Ze smell! I thought how do I stand zees horrible smell?" Yikes. Cat goes outside to pee by the way, it was just the cat's perceived "cat smell" he didn't like and thought it was appropriate to share that thought with me. Seems to have no idea that in Canada you don't say everything you think. Mind you, they ought to have done a better job of preparing him for the culture gap (and us, clearly!). I won't have a German again, the lack of curiousity, the glumness, the lack of tact, the bossiness. It's all too far out of our comfort zone. Bring back the Japanese kids: they're polite, they're sweet, they're friendly, they don't tell my son what to do 24/7 and they are very curious to learn about our country.
  • gingercat posted:

    on 19th August 2011, 12:19:36 - Reply

    @ clever: you actually summed up my opinion about German mentality. I was born and raised here in Germany by non German parents and I never ever felt comfortable in this country. In the past I could never point out exactly what it was until I moved to Britain for a couple of years. There I actually got reciprocation for my own kindness and curiousity for the first time in my life. Even without me having to "give" sth first, the Brits were so helpful and nice so many times. Unfortunately I had to leave the UK after 3 years and here i am again in this country. I know, that not everyone here is like that, this goes without saying, but the VAST majority is and the majority creates the atmosphere, hence the atmosphere here is depressing. I know there are a few cities that are known for being really cool to live in (eg. Berlin) and people of Cologne have a reputation for being jolly (to the guy who lives in Cologne ), but in general, this mentality here is nothing for open minded, creative and unconventional people, cause they will feel very unhappy here (speaking from my own experience). [Edited by moderator]
  • Germans lost twice posted:

    on 9th May 2011, 05:19:39 - Reply

    [Edited by moderator] I recently came off a stint working under a German-American engineer. He was brilliant academically but he overdesigned everything and made things brittle and difficult to operate. On top of that he expected the customers as well as his employees to adapt to his obtuse designs. This ended up costing him a lot of money because we employees were idle a lot while waiting for him to fix problems of his own creation, and by driving customers away with his complicated product. There was nothing efficient about the operation. It was just rigid. German "efficiency" is process-based while American efficiency is results-based.
  • Budapest Rocks posted:

    on 8th September 2010, 12:09:39 - Reply

    Oh god! Thank you for this thread - i thought it was just me. And Cathy - if you are still there, I know exactly what you mean. I feel a bit bad in saying how miserable and boring it is here in Germany because I have come across Germans who are more than capable of having a laugh and who have been very kind. However, to generalise, it is a strangely charmless and monotonous country. And no, forget superiority. There is order not fantastic efficiency. Healthcare is questionable and the lack of creativity on the streets and in retail is obvious. [Edited by moderator]
  • loui posted:

    on 30th August 2010, 14:37:22 - Reply

    One could argue saying something like "come visit me in London" and not meaning it may be impolite. I can name countless examples of in general how unfriendly germans are. However like Germanguy says one shouldnt generalize and I have met many who are friendly. But at least where in live around the Frankfurt a.M area it is a rare occasion you recieve a smile while travelling on the trains for example. After returning from a weeks hoilday in Norway, I must say I am not looking forward to be back in this depressing country. Norway has the highest life expectancy in Europe. I cant help thinking it has to do with how happy, polite and friendly they are. Being contsantly misrable must release unhealthy hormones in the body. And I regret to say be surrounded by this effects me in way I dont like (I start behaving the same, I cant wait to get out of here in 2 weeks after 19 years of living in Germany hopefully the damage isnt perminant) However saying all this, I get on well with Germans on a personal level.
  • Wow_Indie posted:

    on 6th July 2010, 03:29:44 - Reply

    Germans may be rude, but better than obnoxiously wicked albeit polite others. The Germans don't follow double standards, they aren't good at diplomacy. Germans are epitome of hardwork and perfexction. Germany is still the beacon of Industrial West, still not in the relic of post-deindustrialized credit loving folks, that is all about Big Money, Big Government, etc
  • annie posted:

    on 22nd April 2010, 09:54:34 - Reply

    I guess, we should not genarailze all german people as rude. I knew someone, a german guy who came over our place and I met him. Though I agree as for my experience that he is so grouchy, direct, and meticulous but I found him very, very nice..very thoughtful, very sweet, and very helpful. Maybe its just a matter of respecting other people regardless of culture. I salute germans punctuality and being organized...
  • Thomas posted:

    on 18th March 2010, 00:51:29 - Reply

    Can you please tell me where I find this Germany that you're all talking about? I'm an expat from the US, living in Cologne for 2 years now, and the vast majority of people I have met so far where friendly and helpful. Most look a little grouchy when they're walking on the streets, but when you ask them for directions etc. they're usually pretty helpful. I also have to agree with "germanguy" that you should not take for granted that every German speaks perfect English. Though most have learned it in school, not all of them feel comfortable using it. I also agree that Germans just don't like fake politeness. When you ask an American "How are you" you'll almost always get back a "Thanks, fine", even if this person has the worst day in his/her life. If you ask a German "How are you?" he/she will actually tell you how he/she really feels!
  • germanguy posted:

    on 17th February 2010, 05:02:44 - Reply

    Well, may I as a german citizen take a stance on this issue.
    First of all I find it highly irritating that you accuse "all Germans" (It's interesting that you guys know the entire population of Germany...) of being rude. And I always think it's really funny how everyone is so upset Germans are not answering in english (or answer at all) when asked in english. The last time I walked down the Times Square and was asking people things in German no one responded and they just kept on going.
    I mean I don't expect you to forget the bad encounters you had with Germans, but at least just reconsider and think about the fact that ever human being is different. As I lived in the US for 2 years and took a tolerant approach, tried to understand the culture and did not think ever American was an ignorant warmonger only because the first person I met told me the US should have just nuked the entire Middle East.
    So yeah, I'd really just like to ask you guys to just keep an open mind, especially people that read the other comments shouldn't think to lowly of Germans as not all of us are grouchy, selfish people that wouldn't even help someone who was in imediate danger.
    I just really wished you guys commenting before would reconsider your opinion about Germans just a little :) .
  • Deutschland posted:

    on 2nd February 2010, 17:51:38 - Reply

    wrong wrong and wrong germans aren't rude it is just the way we translate their language into english that make them seem rude.
  • Huckfinn posted:

    on 11th November 2009, 23:21:52 - Reply

    I suppose that rudeness and grouchiness must be contagious to a certain extent. If the majority of your fellow citizens keeps treating you like ****, e.g. several people walking side by side on a sidewalk not making room for you walking in the opposite direction, you might find yourself doing the same after a couple of months or years. Not everybody will, of course, but I think it’s safe to say that the problem recreates itself. I have found that Germans are often very much surprised and grateful for unexpected kindliness, probably because it breaks that cycle. I’ve also found it to be a way to make friends. Maybe if it happens often enough, people will stop resigning and start do the same on their own.
  • Wai Yen posted:

    on 7th September 2009, 18:05:27 - Reply

    Well... being suspicious and everything probably accounts for why I and my colleagues as foreigners always get ignored when we ask for help at a train station or a public place. If we ask in German it\'s even worse. We\' ve learnt to ask in english... we are more likely to get help then.. but we usually first get treated like \"ghosts\" by the the first couple of people we ask. They push us away or just ignore us. I mean... seriously...lived for 18 years in 6 different countries, no one country is filled with \"angels\"...but this is still the first country that people treat people like that. Just ignore people who ask for help.

    I don\'t know if it would be a different situation if we looked German. We are Asian and maybe that\'s why they think we are all here to beg for money??? Or what?

    We were just in a typcial outdoor restaurant the other day and 1 german had an epileptic attack. My newly arrived colleague and I rushed to help the husband hold her head and my colleague ( who is actually an ex-military doctor) called out for someone to help us hold her legs. No one budged. There must have been about 100 guests there ... and people just stared and some continued eating. In the end we called the ambulance the the emergency helicopter came. My newly arrived colleague was shocked that people could just continue to eat when there\'s someone physically calling out for help. Social Psychology at work? What was happening? Why didn\'t any german help their own fellow citizen?

    In the 3 smaller towns where w used to live, the villagers there used to spend so much gossiping about us, from the food we ate to what we barbequed. To the time we took our showers ( makes me wonder if they\'ve been peeping) to the temperature of water we use!!! I knew about this when neighbours actually came over to \"tell us\" what we should and should not be doing. I just wish they would mind their own business. How can some people have so much time on their hands to \"command\" other people what to do? We even had neighbourhood kids throw eggs at our windows. It came to the point where our kids cried
  • clever? posted:

    on 29th May 2009, 13:50:15 - Reply

    The author`s response to the question: why are Germans so rude - exemplifies perfectly the German´s pernicious inability to accept criticism of any kind – or to address criticism adequately. It`s not they who are rude, but we who do not to recognize inherent teutonic perfection! And this is exactly what is lacking: their inability to express joy - they cannot, because they are too suspicious – and not because they are such “deep thinkers” [Edited by moderator]
  • JOe posted:

    on 7th July 2008, 22:51:17 - Reply

    The last parapraph sums it up nicely. Germans are not superficial, they actually don't like fake "politeness". Fake politeness, as the one of saying"you should come and see me in London" despite not meaning it literatelly just IS NOT politeness. It's [edited by moderator] not justified. That's why I think Germany is the moral winner, if appropriate, of this discussion on German rudeness.