What has Germany ever done for us?

When the British talk about Germany, it's usually - and unhealthily - to do with wars and World Cups. <i>IoS</i> readers expect more, so here is our reminder of what, for better and worse, they have given us
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The Independent Online

Some of the literary greats

They gave us Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann and Goethe – a man of so many talents he came up with Faust and colour theory in one lifetime.

The great German banger

Although sausages can be traced back to ancient China and Greece, it is Germany that truly embraced them. To the extent of producing more than 1,500 varieties of sausage or wurst. Some are great delicacies, but frankly there's no excuse for the frankfurter.


Their steins are bigger, cheaper and tastier than ours. Germany has more than 1,300 breweries and Germans trail only the Czechs and Irish for consumption per person. The Germans love beer so much that they have whole festivals devoted to it, one of the most famous being the Oktoberfest in Munich. Prost.

The Royal Family

Without the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, our own Queen wouldn't exist. But then again if our monarchs hadn't insisted on repeatedly hooking up with their German relatives perhaps we'd have fewer odd-looking people among our extended royalty.


(and Speedos as acceptable garments). It's quite hard to decide which is worse. Both are pretty scary to normal British folk.


Without the invention of 23-year-old German university student, Paul Nipkow, who thought up the first electromechanical television system in 1884, we would be listening to today's match on the wireless. And where would be the fun in that?

The garden gnome

No, really! These monstrosities of taste are thanks to a fashion that began in 19th-century Germany. The first ceramic Gartenzwerg or "garden dwarf" was made in Gräfenroda, a town renowned for kitsch pottery.

Erm, encouraged David Hasselhoff's music career

In Germany people seem to think The Hoff can sing – or are at least prepared to buy his records. Putting him at the top of the charts once could be put down to an innocent mistake, but twice is just wrong.

The moon landings

OK, so the Yanks may have stuck in their flag, but without the rocket technology pioneered by a German – Hermann Oberth – they would never have got there in the first place.


You didn't think we would do a whole spread about Germany and not mention the "H" word did you? Although, strictly speaking, you could blame this one on Austria.


Thanks to the autobahn we have the motorway, its poor, congested cousin, but the German invention really works.

The bicycle

Karl Friedrich von Drais pioneered the modern bicycle in Mannheim in 1817. It had a heavy wooden frame and no pedals, being propelled by pushing your feet along the floor.

Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Wagner and, er, Kraftwerk

However you look at it, the Germans are responsible for some of the greatest music ever made and their composers take up a vast amount of space in any classical record shelf.


The saviour of household budgets in austerity Britain, the supermarket chain is the first place you go to when you have a burning desire to buy industrial quantities of wurst.

They saved our bacon

Without Germany (then Prussia), we might all be speaking French now. Thanks to the timely arrival of the Prussian army in the Battle of Waterloo we were able to defeat Napoleon.

Eleven alternatives to the match: Full tank. Empty road. The M25 is all yours

Have the local shops to yourself

Enjoy not having to queue for the changing room. Selfishly buy up the entire last-minute-reductions shelf in Sainsbury's. Do whatever it is that people who ever have time to get to the front of the queue at the Post Office do. And don't tell anyone what it is.

Go to the Green Fields

(If you are at Glastonbury.) Try to spot a hippie. Then offer him some magic mushrooms and get him to tell you how much better it all was before that sell-out Eavis put up the big screens and invited in the football hooligans.

Start a revolution

Come the revolution, Citizen, John Terry's back will be first against the wall.

Go to Ikea

All of a sudden, for one Sunday in four years, there will be no queues of couples rowing because she insists on spending the weekend buying a complete range of stackable household storage solutions and he really doesn't want to be there. (Instead, they will be in the pub rowing because he insists on spending the weekend gushing manfully about the elegant beauty of Wayne Rooney's footwork, and she really doesn't want to be there.)

Enjoy the big attractions without the big crowds

Get straight on to every ride at Alton Towers. Buy train tickets. Go on the London Eye.

Watch a quarter of one of Paul McCartney's many "epic" performances when he appears this weekend in Hyde Park.

Speed around the M25

A full tank of petrol. The open road. Two hours on your own personal race track. And it's nice and handy for Heathrow in case England lose and you have to leave the country to escape the next two weeks of sulking.

Streak through the local park completely unnoticed

Do roly-polys down a grassy hill (make like an England player pretending to be injured). Have wild and noisy al fresco sex in the market square or on the town hall roof. (If you can find anyone to have sex with who isn't watching the football.) Then drape your knickers around somebody's car aerial and wear an England flag home.

Find a pub that isn't showing the football

Have the beer garden all to yourself and get spectacularly sunburnt and roaring drunk. Then call in sick on Monday morning. Tell the boss that you must have caught that mysterious two-hour flu that everyone else in the office suddenly developed last Wednesday afternoon.

Make a low-budget sci-fi movie

Set it in a post-apocalyptic future world in which the streets of Britain are completely deserted and survivors are haunted by the distant calls of vuvuzelas.

Go to a pub showing the match

Stand in front of the big screen, order a complicated and elaborate series of cocktails (ones that involve the grinding of ice are recommended) and then ask the punters, "Who's playing in red again?"

Tune into ITV

You're guaranteed to miss the football.

Katy Guest