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Stereotypes – Wir können auch anders Posted by on Feb 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

Most Germans in the US experience very common stereotypes within the US, just like many Americans experience the same when they travel to Germany. When I first moved to New England I was looking for all the skyscrapers, huge cars and cowboy hats. After I had to change my perception of the US based on my experience it was easier to understand for me why the perception of Germany is what it is over here. Since we all learn the most out of die Kiste (the box, here the TV) most movies deal either with WWII subjects or drunken Bavarians dancing around in their Lederhosen. I am of course also a big fan of Bayern (Bavaria) but Germany has so much more to offer than one state and the Vergangenheit (past).

 

Germany has all kinds of different Landschaften (country sides) from the beaches in the North and North East to the flat lands of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), the Schwarzwald (Black Forrest) and the uniqueness of the Spreewald and its famous Gurken (cucumbers). I think it is on all of us to educate other people about everything Deutschland has to offer and especially get away from the dark chapter of the Third Reich even though it is very attractive to the movie industry and should not be forgotten. The future of the country is what matters most. A fantastic friendship between the US and Germany has developed and despite all the negative media coverage within the US the country still has a very positive image, especially in Germany.

 

I would like to ask you what is important for your generation when it comes to the image of Germany and what can be done in order to change the focus from the typical stereo type?

 

Die Kiste – the box (slang word for the tv)

Die Vergangenheit – the past

Die Landschaft – the countryside

Der Schwarzwald – the black forrest

Die Gurke – the cucumber, Die Gurken – the cucumbers

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Comments:

  1. Moshe:

    It’s funny to read you blog, because I am an Israeli living in the US, and we are saying the same thing about the T.V. coverage of Israel. Israel has much more to offer then what one can see on T.V.

  2. Ryan:

    Since I have told people about my learning German it’s sparked a lot of conversations about Germany. I think the most common conception that I have found is the one from Bavaria. I also find that some people have sneaky suspicions about the Germans creating a Nazi fourth Reich. I find that there are few things that are better for changing stereotypes than exchange programs. If I have good German friends then it will be hard for me to see them as Nazis. One of the best things that can happen is for Hollywood to leave WWII alone. That said, recent movies -such as “Good,”- are starting to admit that not all Germans were monsters like in the Indiana Jones movies, even in the 1930’s.

  3. Barry Hummell:

    There is no better place to visit then Germany. I lived there in the Army. I have brought many to Germany on vacations and all have fallen in love with it as I have. We Americans have just as many pasts we need to have forgotten. I don’t see to much differents from Germany’s past and what we did to the North American Indians. Sorry just being honest. Proud German from Penna. Dutch land.

  4. Randy Smith:

    The post about stereotypes was great. I have worked for years to help overcome it and to help people learn about the “real” Germans and Germany. I love the Octoberfest time but Germany is so much more. Even at Disney World the “Germany attraction” at Epcot is so sterotypical “Beer Hall” imagine. Germany is beaches, flatlands, mountains and busy cities with many different and attractive places. The warm nature of the people is apparent if you just mingle and speak to them. I shall continue to invite people to get to know the Germans and Germany. You’ll like what you find, I am certain of it. Randy USA

  5. holger:

    Thank you very much for your feedback. I also find it interesting to hear from Moshe that his country is facing a similar situation.

    As Ryan pointed out, once you get to know an actual person it is hard to uphold the stereotypes.

    I still don’t know what say when people tell me “You don’t look like a German….”

  6. Ralph:

    I agree that knowing someone is the best way to stop steriotypes. The next thing is for the movies to move on. I know of no one that living in the past can satisfy. There are things happening now and dreams of the future that are worth mentioning in film. Perhaps this internet will give us enough communication to get to know all the other nations enough that we can work together on common interests. Like a station on the moon with a good resturant. What do you think ?

  7. holger:

    Ralph,

    I think you are making a very good point in regards to the fact that most stereotypes and prejudices are based on a lack of knowledge or interest. The internet is a very good source to find out more about specific subjects and areas of interest, even though I always like to check where the information is coming from and who put it there.

    In regards to the movie industry, I don’t think they will every move away from certain genres since they sell well and are always easy to market. A little more education and “Blick űber den Tellerrand” has never hurt anybody. Today’s technologies and virtual working environment are definitely bringing more people together and make the communication between different people and cultures a lot easier.

    As far as the restaurant on the moon goes, I will be there as soon as I can buy the tickets online.

    Thanks for your post.

    Holger

  8. andreas:

    Hallo, Holger.
    Ich lebe in der Ukraine, und fuer uns war Deutscland auch III Reich, spaeter ein sehr gemuetliches Land (Ich meine nach dem Zerfall der Sovietunion). Aber auch das land der Kultur: Bethoven, Goethe, dresdener Gemaeldegalerie. Jetz fuer viele Jugendlichen ist es das Land der Autos(BMW. Mercedes, Volkswagen) und auch des Fussballs. Fuer mich ist es das Land der Sprache, die ich mag. Ich heisse wirklich Andrej, aber die deutsche variante meines Namens gefaellt mir auch.

  9. holger:

    Hallo Andrej,

    Ich finde deine Einstellung sehr gut, mit der Zeit zu gehen. Man kann die Vergangenheit nicht aendern aber die Zukunft beeinflussen. Es hat sich in den letzten Jahren viel in Europa geaendert und verbessert. Wir erleben ein groesseres Zusammenkommen der Voelker mit allen Vor -und Nachteilen.

    Danke fuer deinen Beitrag!

  10. Marita:

    I agree with Ralph, that the more you get out and meet people from other cultures, the harder it is to uphold stereotypes.

    Having said that, foreign languages aren’t even required here to graduate from highschool and neither is knowing anything about other cultures. Classes like that are all electives. And I live in the Los Angeles area, a major metropolis!

    I’ve found there is still hatred for the Germans here among the Jewish population (I’ve been cussed at for being German more than once). I do have some Jewish friends who think this is totally stupid, but even though, they would still never be caught dead driving a German car. History has definitely left deep wounds…

    And like someone else mentioned here, so many people believe all Germans have blond hair and blue eyes?!? And that most are wearing Lederhosen – haha!! Many also believe that Germany is a huge country, until I tell them that it’s smaller than the state of Texas…

    Generally people just love German design, technology and of course the cars. There are countless Mercedes, BMWs and Porsches on the road. Made In Germany still holds prestige.

    Most conversations about Germany are positive and many people I’ve talked to have been to Germany at least once and love the beauty of the land and the openness of its people. They also can’t believe how much the Germans are celebrating! If you’ve been to Germany you know what they mean 🙂

    As for my own stereotypes? I still think a lot of things happen ‘only in America’ – and I love that about this country! Even though the recession put another big dent into the ‘American Dream’ and all the possibilities it brings, the American Dream surely hasn’t died 🙂