What are they like, the Germans? Stereotypes say, they are stolid, mainly live on Sauerkraut and Bratwurst, drink litres of beer daily, are orderly and overly disciplined, are strict with their children, lack any sense of humour and the like. However, you will find that the majority of the – roughly eighty million – German people are open-minded, tolerant, liberal, friendly, well read and educated.
Patriotism among Germans is – due to the Nazi history – still a delicate issue, especially for the members of the older generations who still struggle with their national identity. (For the last 60 years German literature revolves mainly around the topics of preservation or loss of humanity under the Nazi regime.) However, nowadays the anti-German resentment of the Germans themselves has faded and the subtle German self-hatred gave way to a healthier national self-esteem, still far from the straightforward pride of other peoples.
Germans are rather cosmopolitan and quite interested and well informed about other parts of the world. They like to travel a lot, if possible several times a year, and even visit the remotest places. Many Germans speak English and other foreign languages and are keen to practice their language skills. Their cooking is inspired by the cuisines of other countries.
Germans appear rather blunt in the way they talk to each other. The underlying values in communication are honesty and credibility which can be a bit annoying for somebody who just wants to engage in polite small talk of e.g. the English kind. If you give Germans a compliment about their dress they might tell you, where you can buy it. If you ask them how they are, they might give you a lengthy tale and it will not necessarily only be positive because they like to moan which they regard as being honest. A German will correct you if he believes you are wrong. He does not mean it as an offence. The mere exchange of civilities is not practised in a German environment. Nevertheless, good manners do matter a lot in Germany. They must just look natural and unceremonious as well as honestly felt, more personalised and adapted to the situation than in other cultures.