by Oliver Smith, The Telegraph, June 21, 2017
Few countries come saddled with quite so many stereotypes as Germany, and the most Googled questions about the country reveal some pretty obvious queries - as well as a few oddities.
Why is Germany so powerful?
Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way. The world is clearly in thrall to our Teutonic cousins, with this question, as well as “Why is Germany so successful?” one of the most popular.
It’s a curious one. Germans, despite a reputation for industriousness, work fewer hours than just about any nationality (just 1,371 a year – or 26.4 hours a week; conversely, Mexicans, contrary to what Jeremy Clarkson would have you believe, work the most: 2,246 hours a year, or 43.2 a week), but their economy is the envy of the world.
Key factors include the adoption of the euro, which offered a huge boost to German exports, lower levels of private debt (in part due to cultural reasons; Germans use the same word - schulden - to describe both debt and guilt), and an education system that champions vocational training to support the country’s manufacturing industry.
Why is Germany so efficient?
Its strong economy means citizens work fewer hours, which is certainly an efficient way to run a country. But in many ways it isn’t so productive. Berlin’s long-delayed Brandenburg Airport is one such example . Originally scheduled to open in October 2011, the much-maligned airport has been beset by delays and is now running €5 billion (£4.37bn) over budget.
There’s also a notorious bureaucracy that citizens must pick their way around. A few years ago The Telegraph’s Berlin correspondent told all about the headaches that came with relocating to the city . “After experiencing its slick trains and chic hotels on holidays, we had high expectations of German efficiency,” he wrote. “But compared with Britain and the US, customer service in Germany can be dismal. It took three months to get connected to the internet, a lifetime when you’re a journalist. After one internet provider lost our forms, then missed two appointments, my wife Meera walked into a rival firm and refused to leave until they guaranteed to connect us. I’d assumed Germany would be more efficient, and grumbled to our Swedish neighbour. ‘Nein,’ he replied cheerfully. ‘Deutschland ist bürokratisch’.
“Germany is a society driven by rules that often serve to enhance communal life at the expense of individual freedom; the restriction on Sunday trading, for example, makes Saturday mornings a whirl of last-minute grocery shopping while enforcing rest on the Sabbath.”
Why are German words so long?
“Some German words are so long that they have a perspective,” quipped Mark Twain, in his 1880 book ‘A Tramp Abroad’. He wasn’t wrong - the German language is notable for its compound nouns.
There’s Massenkommunikationsdienstleistungsunternehmen (translation: “companies providing mass communications services”), Sozialversicherungsfachangestelltenauszubildender (“a trainee assistant social insurance broker”) and the 80-letter Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft (“Association for Subordinate Officials of the Head Office Management of the Danube Steamboat Electrical Services”), to name a few.
Another much Googled question? “Why is the German language so hard?”
What is Germany famous for?
Beside economic might, apparent efficiency and long words, Google would also suggest: cars (Vorsprung Durch Technik and all that), cleanliness, modern kitchens, Oktoberfest, Neuschwanstein Castle, beer, sausage and Beethoven.
Why is Germany not on Google Maps?
This question refers to the absence of most of Germany from Google Street View. Many Germans reacted with anger in 2010 when Google started publishing pictures of their houses online using the tool, and around 3 per cent opted to have their properties blurred. Only its biggest cities - Berlin, Dortmund, Cologne, and so forth - were photographed, and most of the country remains unexplored by Google’s snappers. At the heart of the issue is Germany’s tough privacy laws. Google experienced similar problems in Austria.
What is Germany's most popular food?
There’s more to the nation’s cuisine than just bratwurst and sauerkraut (though they are exceptionally important). Our Germany expert, Paul Sullivan, recently extolled the virtues of 10 dishes, including spätzle pasta laced with Emmentaler cheese; maultaschen, a sort of ravioli filled with meat and herbs; and flammkuchen, a thinly-rolled pizza-like dish topped with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons. Delicious.
Why is German food so bad?
Did you not read about flammkuchen?!
Why is German beer so good?
This we can agree on. Beer really keeps the country ticking (Germany drinks more beer per capita than all but three other nations), and it must be brewed according to the country’s stringent “Reinheitsgebot”, or beer purity law.
Munich is by no means the only place to consume Germany’s many excellent light, dark and wheat beers. Most regions have their own special brews – in Cologne (famed for its Gothic cathedral, carnival and an unusually carefree approach to life), the favoured tipple is Kölsch, a clear beer with a bright, straw-yellow hue; in Bamberg (a beautifully preserved medieval Bavarian city), the taste is more for richly textured, smoked beers. Every town and city worth its salt has a beer cellar or two in which to retreat in winter, while in summer the German beer garden is the place to clink glasses.
Why is Germany called Germany?
It’s not in honour of Mr Germ, as some people seem to think; “Who is Germany named after?” is another big search term.
Germany is actually derived from Germania, a Roman time for a geographical region that stretched from the Danube to the Baltic and the Rhine to the Vistula. The etymology of Germania is uncertain, but it was first used more than 2,000 years ago and may have Gallic origins. Germans don’t call themselves Germans, of course. They are Deutsch and they live in Deutschland (this comes from the Old High German word “diutisc”, meaning “of the people”).
Why do German houses have shutters?
It’s not just Germany, but Italy, France, and much of Europe (but not the UK). It seems to confuse Americans, mostly, and is about nothing more exciting than insulation and security.
What is Germany's national animal?
The soaring eagle, a national animal it shares with Egypt, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Serbia and the US.
What is Germany's language?
Really? This is one of the more ludicrous - but frequently - Googled questions about the country. For the record, there are a few recognised minority languages too, including Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian, North Frisian and Saterland Frisian, while an impressive 56 per cent speak English.
Where in Germany is Auschwitz?
It’s in Poland.