Monday, December 3, 2012

I am British and Germans are Nazis...?

Of course I am not, but I would love to be British. I attended this seminar about cultural differences at the weekend which was held by a British woman who came to Germany in her thirties. She talked a lot about British and German values and the differences she noticed between British and German people. Of course you can’t say “the British” or “the Germans”, of course this is much more differentiated. But I do believe that there are certain tendencies and that some values might be more important in some cultures than they are in others.
I noticed that in a lot of areas I am more British than German.

Moreover, I am currently planning my semester abroad which will take place in less than a year and I desperately want to go to Great Britain. Unfortunately, my university has only three partner universities in the UK and there are about 500 people applying each semester and only two are chosen for each university (at least if you want to go as a Erasmus student, in that case you don’t have to pay the tuition). The reason why there are only two students to be chosen is because this is based on an agreement between the German and British universities and apparently no one wants to go to Germany. This does not only concern Great Britain but also France, for example. I can understand this somehow, if I could choose, I wouldn’t choose Germany either. Actually I would love to move to England someday in the future.

Anyway, I am really curious, how much do people (non-Germans) learn about German history? And how much do you know about Germany as it is today? What do you think about Germans (please be honest)?
This woman also talked a lot about stereotypes and told us about some of her experiences and asked us about ours. A lot of the other students told stories about how people asked them about Hitler when they were abroad and how a lot of people think of Germans as Nazis. In fact, one student had been asked (not by a Briton though) what Hitler does today. I am always quite shocked to hear that a lot of people don’t really know a lot about this and that they really associate Germany with nothing else but Hitler. Admittedly, I am not very patriotic, however Germany today is not Germany 70 years ago.
Also, as a German, it is quite unthinkable to not know about German past and you can’t imagine that other people don’t learn about it. Of course, history is inerasable, therefore we learn really a lot about it at school, mainly to prevent that such a thing can happen again. It is almost awkward to admit to be German.
Again, people shouldn’t forget about this time in history, in contrary, they should learn about it (and Germans do but I don’t know how this is in other countries) but I also think that it is important to know that it is past.

So, when you hear Germany, do you really immediately think of WWII and/or Hitler? Do you learn a lot about it at school? Do you associate Germany with anything else that doesn’t have to do with the above mentioned issues?


  1. I admit I don't really know much about Germany, we only really get taught about Germany in the world wars unless we study the language which is quite rare over here. Not many people class Germans as Nazis (In England) though a few do. The only other things I know about Germany is you have Oktoberfest, you have really good Christmas Markets, and a bit about your football teams and players

    1. Oh yes, there are always a lot of tourist at the Christmas markets, especially the one in Nuremberg is quite popular (I come from a small town near Nuremberg).
      I think it is important to learn about Germany’s role in the world wars, but it is sad when people think Germany hasn’t changed since then.
      Thanks for your comment!

  2. I would have to agree, the only time I ever really learned about Germany was during WWII history, and other than that I only really heard about it when I watched Eurotrip (haha) so I don't think I got any real sense of Germans either.

    1. Well, as a German, you are not really proud of your country and you know that most people don’t know much about it apart from Hitler and the Nazis.
      But apart from that we are just normal people. :)

  3. I have 2 very good and close German friends, that live in England at the moment. I love how they are as people. They are extremely punctual and have this exact time thing ie: if you say meet at 5pm then you must meet at 5pm otherwise they want to know a reason why. I'm surprised by their loyalty and honesty as friends and since we all met, they have always been consistent in how they are. They have introduced many good quality foods to us because things we presumed were German were not authentic. They always speak about German history etc to educate us. It's a great friendship.

    They don't have any qualms about telling you the truth instantly, in fact it can sound harsh if you are not use to it. I feel very comfortable and at home around them.

    I remember during one of the football world cup and we were at my home watching TV with some other friends and one of my British friends said they didn't want the Germans to win because of the war. I'm just so glad my German friend did not hear it because I would have had a major debate on my hands there and then.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what is taught in schools/colleges in regards to Germany nowadays. We learnt mainly about Hilter and the wars but I guess times have changed.

    Living in England is very different from visiting it, I can assure you of that.

    1. Thank you for your comment RPD!
      About punctuality, this is indeed very important for Germans. I didn’t really know it is a value that is typical for Germany before I experienced that it isn’t the same in other countries. Sometimes it is quite funny to get to know stereotypes about your own country because you realize that some of them contain a certain truth, like the ones about punctuality, exactness etc.

      This is also something this woman from England told us, that Germans can seem harsh to Britons, but it is really not meant to be rude, it’s just a different way of communicating, neither better nor worse.

      You really learn most about your own culture when you learn about other cultures because that’s when you realize the differences.

      And no problem about deleting the other comment. :)

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Had to delete the above comment as I posted it twice by mistake :( sorry.

  5. I wish I could visit Germany someday.....saw a lot of beautiful stuff through one of the vlogs somewhere.

    1. Yes, I think Germany has some nice places to visit, I think every country has. :)

  6. I smile reading the title of this post. I'd love to be a British, too, cos I learned English in school (UK English, so to say though I might get caught up in some US English) but the reality is I'm from the far east. The typical joke here would be , "You speak London.", meaning to say "You speak English.". Well, joke aside. :)

    As students, we learn History not just our own but the world's. That was things of the past. Many things had changed and now we're in the future. What happened in our countries hundreds/thousands of years back had became History.

    I can relate to this post on the perception people would have on us here. Long ago, the land where I'm living now was known as "Land of The Headhunters" but today it is well-known as "Land of The Hornbills." You see, there's a great difference cos the "scary" name it had in the past had became History. Sadly, some people are still very scared of us thinking that they would lose their heads when they are here! Even my own country people from other states have such thought thinking that we're still very backward and live on tree houses! My brother who studied in a university was asked about it and he said, "Yes, we still live on tree houses and we use escalators!". That answer quietened some curious minds!

    Back to your question, when I hear Germany I think of a very progressive and modern country with nice people. As I said, what I know about it in the past is History. You know, there are Malaysian students studying in the universities of your country. Proud to say too, some Malaysians married Germans. Isn't it a nice inter-culture?

    For sure, one day I'd love to visit your country. :)

    1. I learned English in school too, but I skip a little between UK and US Enlish, depending on the situation, currently it is rather UK English. I would love to live in the UK so that it becomes real UK English. :)

      We learned history too, of course, but we also learn a lot about other cultures as they are now, also at university.

      Well, I would love to visit your country too some day and for sure I don't think I would lose my head when I'm there! It's sad when people are so ignorant as to not realise that the past is gone.
      My university used to have a partner university in Malaysia, so students had the possibility to study there for a semester. Unfortunately, for some reason unknown to me the contract hasn't been renewed.

      It is, I love it and I love that the blogging world is so intercultural. :)

      Thank you so much for your insights! :)

  7. hmhm.....

    I think people- would rather hang on to stereo-types than explore the world for themselves.

    Yes, I agree Nazi-s are responsible for a very harsh and cruel episodes in WW2. But then, hey-- the British were not doing social service in the colonies themselves(during imperial periods).

    I am from India. My own grand parents have told me stories about how their fathers and grand fathers fought against the British. If you want to know about how bloody the British got in India - visit --

    Almost, every imperialist nation has its share of exploitative history. Just blaming Nazi-s is not just ridiculous. It portrays that people are not comfortable in acknowledging their own issues.

    And yes, India also has its share of potholes in history. And irrespective of that- I am proud of my heritage. And I think you should be too.

    Belonging to some group- gives you an illusion of group identity. That's not who you are. You are but what you decide. Right??

    And on a side note---- Hey, so you know Judo. Cheers to that. hmmh... have always wanted to learn Krav Maga.

    1. I guess almost every country (I say almost because I don't know every detail about the history of every country) has some dark period, although Germany's is probably one of the worst.
      I think the good thing about Germany is that people are actually talking about it and not denying it, but rather trying to prevent that something like that could ever happen again.
      Yes, and it is exactly that illusion of group identity that can be quite dangerous.

      Hey, if you want to learn Krav Maga, you should try, it's never too late for those things. There are always a few beginners in the judo group of our university and most of them are older than me.

      Thank you for your comments!

  8. Thanks yous so much.. bermanfaat :) walaupun saya pemula belum cukup ngerti :)
    follow balik saya ya dan jangan lupa komentar dan kritikanya terhadap blog saya :)

  9. When I hear German I mostly think of Michael Schumacher.