Keeping Up with the Germans, By Philip Oltermann


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The Independent Culture

Entertaining and occasionally startling, this personal view by a transplanted German explores the reasons for the differences between two very similar countries.

We might envy their toilets' "mighty roar of a rocket launcher", but not the "ruthless efficiency" of the Baader-Meinhof Group (47 dead compared to "one person slightly injured" by the Angry Brigade).

Moving here in 1996, Otterman adopted the irony that is "part of the broader English mindset" until "it dawned on me that you can't keep living in quotation marks for ever." You can take the boy out of Schleswig-Holstein…