Germany is known as the land of poets and thinkers; it has produced numerous influential authors, philosophers, and musicians, literary masterpieces, fine, decorative and performing arts, films, stunning architecture, and a traditional cuisine.
Germany is also known to be a country with a turbulent history, and a country obsessed with rules, order and discipline, a country of hardworking people and formal business etiquette.
German Cultural Life
German cultural life is diverse. There are more than 500 museums of art, 300 life theaters and orchestras, and the country is home to a great number of young national and international artists. With about 950.000 books published each year, Germany is also a major book-nation, and German cinema has gained high international recognition in recent years.
When it comes to German literature, most people think of Goethe, Schiller, Brecht, Böll or famous post-war authors such as Siegfried Lenz, Christa Wolf, and Günther Grass, who were seeking moral solutions to deal with the burden of World War II. Contemporary German literature has recovered the pleasure to tell stories. Some of the most important contemporary authors in Germany include Daniel Kehlmann (Measuring the World), Thomas Brussig (At the Shorter End of Sonnenallee, Heroes Like Us), Julia Franck, and Ilja Trojanow (Along the Ganges, Custodians of the Sun).
Germany’s turbulent history, in particular World War II, the Nazi regime, and the separation of the country between 1949 and 1990 has strongly influenced German cinema. Some of the major works with international success include The Boat (Das Boot, 1981), Run Lola Run (1998), Good Bye Lenin (2003), The Downfall (Der Untergang, 2004), and The Lives of the Others (2007).
Germany’s musical heritage is mainly based on classical composers such as Beethoven, Bach, Händel, and Strauss. There are 80 musical theaters in Germany, the most important being located in Hamburg, Berlin, and Dresden. One of the most famous young classical musicians in Germany is violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.
Beyond classical music, there are major pop artists such as Herbert Grönemeyer, Xavier Naidoo, and young German bands such as Wir sind Helden, Tokio Hotel and many more.
Germans are sports enthusiastic and about 27 million people in Germany are members of sports clubs, such as soccer, marksmanship, and tennis clubs. Most Germans are soccer adherents and hundreds of thousands of spectators watch the Bundesliga (German soccer league) games in the stadiums each weekend, while millions watch them on TV.
Soccer is also a major source of German patriotism and national pride, which have long been repressed. Nobody in Germany but sports fans, in particular soccer fans, would display their national colors, wave their flag and sing the national anthem in the public.
Driving in Germany
Another source of national pride for Germans are their cars and their highways, the autobahn.
Foreigners often perceive german driving culture as aggressive and stressful. There is no speed limit on highways, and tailgating is very common. The left lane on the autobahn is reserved for fast moving vehicles, while slower cars have to give way immediately by pushing to the right lane.
In addition to the high speed and reduced reaction time, German traffic might be stressful and hectic for north American drivers because of the narrow streets and parking spaces, as well as and more impatient traffic participants.