Common Stereotypes about German people

Europe, European Culture
Common German stereotypes

Common German Stereotypes

As the typical German stereotypes go, they are described as complainers with no sense of humour who are always on time, efficient and hard-working. Beer is an essential part of the culture as well as sausage, sauerkraut and the Dirndl & Lederhosen.

Living abroad as a German gives you an interesting insight into the stereotypes about German people which foreigners have – which are true and which ones are absolutely not.


Germans are punctual and efficient

Germans are considered to be highly punctual and efficient. Whether at work, a guided tour or an appointment of any kind (Doctor, date or school) – the Germans are always 10 minutes early – and that’s true. If you arrive exactly on time, it’s already too late for the Germans – especially at work. But if you want to leave work on time – be aware – it’s almost rude to leave work on time – you have to stay at least 15 minutes longer if you don’t want anybody to think low of you. But in general, it’s a well known fact of life if you have ever had the chance to work in Germany.

Although that sounds very strict, that’s probably the reason why one of the main German stereotypes is their efficiency. Deadlines are stuck to, they work hard and are reliable. When you do business with a German you can rely on their word and their dedication to customer service is second to none. Their high productivity can explain their high levels of economic growth and great job and internship opportunities across the country.


Germans love beer

First of all: Yes, the stereotype that Germans love beer is absolutely true. It is a part of their culture and most Germans enjoy a beer almost every day. It is a tradition at each BBQ, after work or when meeting up with friends. Of course, it’s a staple at the Oktoberfest and similar festivals, too. Moreover you can find a “Biergarten” (eng.”beer garden”) in almost every street. This is an comfortable outdoor area in which beer and local food is served on typical tables and benches, which the Germans call “Biertisch” (beer table) and “Bierbank” (beer bank).

With more than 5.000 different brands, more than 15 sorts of beer and 1.300 breweries, it is no surprise that Germany ranked second in beer consumption in Europe.
Besides that, nearly every German is able to open a beer without a bottle opener. A considerable feat for many a beer drinker.

Germans are cold and direct

The Germans are known as direct-talkers as they don’t like to beat around the bush – they are very goal-oriented so they want to get to the point as fast as possible. If they say YES it means Yes and if they say NO it means No. Very easy. Also they are not a fan of small talk – if they ask you “How are you?” – they really want to know how you feel and if you ask them, they are going to tell speak for more than 5 minutes about their feelings. In other cultures “how are you” is more a part of the “Hello” and if you want to answer, they don’t even listen any more.


A German friend is a friend for life

In general Germans tend to be more formal to people they don’t know and need a little bit longer to warm up with a person. You can interpret this as respect to your privacy rather than they don’t like you at all – But if you make friends with a German, it’s forever – in any case it’s honest, valuable and not superficial. Many Germans still meet up with their friends from school after nearly 40 years.


Germans have no sense of humour

Across Europe, one of the most familiar German stereotypes surrounds their lack of humour. This is however not the case – jokes about politics, life’s hardships and about other German regions are the most popular. Many German jokes do not translate well either, due to their language’s structure and grammar rules, which also make punning almost impossible. This may be an explanation for the common stereotype – they are really just misunderstood.

How many Germans do you need to change a light bulb?

Only one – Germans are efficient and don’t have humour!


Germans love sausage

Bockwurst, Wiener Wurst, Blutwurst, Bratwurst, Currywurst, Weißwurst, Brühwurst, Kinderwurst, Sommerwurst, Rostbratwurst, Mettwurst, Teewurst, Fleischwurst, Jagdwurst, Leberwurst, Pfefferwurst, Bregenwurst, Debrezinerwurst, Salamiwurst, Blutwurst.

Any more questions?

Germany has 1.500 varieties of wurst and those are only examples which came right to my mind. Each region has their own speciality with another type of sausage – in Bavaria, for example, the “Weißwurst mit Brezn” is really famous.


Germans love rules and order

On the top of Germany’s big bag of rules is the governmental office, which is called “Ordnungsamt”, translated means “office of order” –  and yes, they’re creating lots of rules to keep everything well structured. For example there is a rule which says that crossing the street as a pedestrian at a red traffic light is forbidden, even if no car is coming. The garbage is sorted in at least in 8 different sections: Plastic, metal, paper, organic, one for white, brown and green glass and the general garbage. Although this is not a rule as such, every German is strictly regimented about recycling. In addition, there are lots of traffic signs, strict rules and parking prohibitions on every German street and motorway.

It is undeniable that the rules and the structure are working really well in Germany – which could provide an explanation for their high efficiency.




Last but not least for German stereotypes: The traditional costume: Lederhosn & Dirndl

If you are going to a northern part of Germany you will be disappointed if you expect to see any German on the street with their traditional dress – and if you see one you can be sure it is a Bavarian who got onto the wrong train after Octoberfest. The Octoberfest is actually also the reason for the myth that all Germans wear Dirndl (traditional dress for women) or Lederhosn (traditional leather pants for men). The Dirndl was originally a working robe of the female servant and created from peasant clothing in Austria and Bavaria around 1870. So only the Bavarians wear it to traditional occasions like the Octoberfest, Weinfest (traditional wine festival) or Dorffest (traditional village festival).


Not forgetting that Germans also absolutely love football. This picture should cover it.

The common German stereotypes may actually ring true in some cases, but it’s best to spend time living in the country in order to inform your own opinion. If great beer, delicious food and efficiency at work sound good to you, why not find a job in Germany with your native language?

Check out our guide to relocating to Germany!