There is a number of (partially quite amusing) surveys and essays, which deal with the question, what „typically German“ means. One of the most felicitous examples is definitely this essay  ( issued by the Australian writer and teacher Liv Hambrett, who lives for some years in Kiel (Northern Germany). Beyond this the survey results pubished by the German Goethe Institutes provide some interesting insights, how Germany and the Germans are perceived from foreign nation’s people point of view (

The subsequent list comprises a potpourri of 100 terms (companies, characters, characteristics, products, buildings, festivals …), which should prompt a discussion about the the question, what „typically German“ means. Additions or comments are (as always) cordially welcome.

  1. Cars and/or the automobile industrie (VW, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, Opel, Continental)
  2. German machine building and plant engineering industry (Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, Jungheinrich, Kuka, Krones, Dürr, Claas, Voith, MAN)
  3. Chemical and pharmaceutical enterprises (Bayer, BASF, Beiersdorf, Fresenius) – Germany was „the drugstore of the world“ at the beginning of the 20th century
  4. Defense industry (Wegmann, Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei, Heckler&Koch)
  5. German munitions/weapons (submarines, main battle tanks, ships, machine guns)
  6. Steel industry (today: thyssenkrupp, formerly: Krupp, Thyssen, Hoesch)
  7. Electrical Engineering industry (Siemens, Bosch)
  8. German inventors and Nobel price winners (Albert Einstein, Gustav Hertz, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, Fritz Haber, Robert Bosch, Robert Koch)
  9. Insurance companies (Allianz, Munich Re)
  10. SAP
  11. Deutsche Bank
  12. Deutsche Lufthansa
  13. Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile
  14. Deutsche Post/DHL
  15. Deutsche Bahn
  16. Food store chains (ALDI, Lidl)
  17. Sports goods companies (Adidas, Puma)
  18. The „Deutschmark“
  19. The German Bundesbank
  20. German Engineering
  21. German medium-sized businesses („Mittelstand“)
  22. German handcraft („Handwerk“)
  23. Dual professional education
  24. Protection of the environment
  25. Ecology (waste separation/recycling, renewable energies)
  26. Data Protection&Information Security
  27. Highways („Autobahn“) without speed limit
  28. Citizens‘ action committees (against technology, progress, Stuttgart 21)
  29. Beer (Becks Beer, Bavarian Beers)
  30. Sausages and cold meat
  31. Broad variety of breads (particularly whole-grain bread)
  32. Bratwurst&Currywurst (can this be translated?!?)
  33. Knuckle of pork with sauerkraut&dumplings
  34. Potatoes
  35. Soups&Stews
  36. German lebkuchen
  37. Black Forest cake with cherries
  38. Marinated beef
  39. Clubs/Associations (sports clubs, choirs or singing clubs, marching bands, hiking clubs, traditional shooting clubs, firefighters, pigeon or dog fanciers)
  40. Football (German National team, FC Bayern, Borussia Dortmund)
  41. Athleticism (football, handball, ice hockey, track and field athletics)
  42. Order&Structure
  43. Disciplin
  44. Thoroughness&conscientiousness
  45. Reliability
  46. Punctuality
  47. Allegiance
  48. Obediance to state authorities
  49. Smugness
  50. Arrogance/Sense of mission („Am deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen“)
  51. Rule and law conformity
  52. Efficiency/Effectiveness (veeeeeeeery important!)
  53. Precision
  54. Aversion to risk
  55. Austerity (saving money for worse times)
  56. Renting, instead of buying
  57. Cleanliness
  58. Straightforwardness/Openness („Germans hate smalltalk“)
  59. Direct eye contact to conversational partners („Germans stare at you“)
  60. Humourlessness
  61. Hospitality
  62. Enjoy travelling and exploring other countries or regions
  63. Block sun loungers with bath towels
  64. Sandals with white socks
  65. Nudism („FKK“)
  66. Love Parade&Summer Fairy Tale 2006
  67. Poets (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Heinrich Heine, Berthold Brecht, Friedrich Hoelderlin, Heinrich von Kleist, Jakob&Wilhelm Grimm)
  68. Philosophers (Immanuel Kant, Friedriche Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Arthur Schopenhauer, Martin Heidegger, Theodor W. Adorno)
  69. Composers (Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Georg-Friedrich Haendel, Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Robert Schumann)
  70. Painters/Actors (Albrecht Duerer, Caspar David Friedrich, Max Liebermann)
  71. Kings and emperors (Karl I. the Great, Friedrich I. Barbarossa, Friedrich II. of Prussia („Friedrich the Great“, „The old Fritz“), Kaiser Wilhelm II.)
  72. Politicians (Otto von Bismarck, Adolf Hitler, Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohl, Angela Merkel)
  73. Johannes Gutenberg (Letterpress printing)
  74. Martin Luther (Reformation)
  75. Second World War
  76. German Wehrmacht
  77. Holocaust
  78. Tagesschau (German news broadcast)
  79. Tatort (German whodunit)
  80. Derrick (German whodunit)
  81. Toys (Steiff teddy bears, Playmobil figures, Fischer Technics)
  82. North and East Sea
  83. Islands of Sylt and Ruegen
  84. German Streams (Rhein, Elbe, Donau)
  85. The Alps
  86. Castles, Churches and Landmarks (Neuschwanstein, Dome of Cologne, Church of our Lady in Dresden, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag)
  87. Munich Beer Festival („Octoberfest“)
  88. Grimm’s Fairy Tales
  89. Christmas Markets
  90. Carnival/Mardi Gras
  91. Folk Music („Heino“)
  92. Electronic pop music (Kraftwerk)
  93. Lederhosen
  94. Skat (German card game)
  95. Garden Gnome („Gartenzwerg“)
  96. Allotment Garden („Schrebergarten“)
  97. Home Handyman/Building Supply Stores
  98. Barbecue
  99. Roofed wicker beach chair („Strandkorb“)
  100. Dogs (German Shepherd Dog, Dachshund, German Mastiff, Doberman, Rottweiler)

3 Kommentare zu „What is „typically German“?

  1. I am a big fan of BBC documentations in general. In 2013 the BBC released a documentation under the title „Make me a German“. I find this kind of documentation very informative and useful for the mutual understanding of people from different nations and the video at hand provides some eye-opening pieces of information not only for English citizens, but as well for German citizens. Original source: YouTube source (if the video at the bbc site doesn’t work):

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