Ever wondered why the Germans are stereotypically renowned for bagging poolside sun loungers with their towels, not saying “thank you” when a door is opened for them, or being seemingly incapable of frivolous banter? The country’s Goethe Institute, its equivalent of The British Council, now says it has an official explanation for behaviour that is often perceived as rude.
The Institute puts it down to the country’s centuries-long subdivision into mini-states, which it says led people to feel “constantly surrounded by enemies”.
The reasons for Germans’ famously blunt approach are laid down in a series of videos entitled “Typical German”. Christine Jansen, of the Goethe Institute’s Amsterdam office, which launched the project, said the videos were designed to encourage a “discussion about cultural differences when doing business with Germans”. In one of the videos a German can be seen fretting under a train station clock. “German punctuality does not come naturally to everyone!” explains the voice-over. It is not joking.
Germany’s turbulent history and centuries of “chaos, wars and depression” led people to focus on facts, arguments, stability and structure which provided a sense of security and order, the Goethe Institute says. “Germans do not leave things to chance,” it adds.