What the World
Thinks of Germany,
One Year After the World Cup
TWIG - The summer of 2006 was a time to make
friends in Germany, as over a million soccer fans from across the world
enjoyed German hospitality. The world watched as Germany reveled in an
unprecedented groundswell of national pride and optimism after years of
frustrating economic stagnation.
The press proclaimed that Germany emerged from the
World Cup a more self-confident and cheerful nation. Of course, a 3.9
billion euro boost to the economy through consumption by foreign guests and
the creation of 20,000 permanent tourism jobs helped fortify the national
ego as well.
Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international news
broadcaster wanted to find out whether any of that pixie dust from the
"summer fairy tale" rubbed off on the rest of the world. Deutsche Welle
asked its viewers and listeners to respond to the question, "What do you
associate with Germany, the host of the World Cup?" Over 15,000 responded to
the call, not just with letters, but with drawings, collages, and songs as
As a special 2007 edition of the Deutsche Welle
magazine "Weltzeit" reports, people across the world have a sophisticated
and largely positive view of Germans. "Germany is making an important
contribution to promoting peace and preventing conflict" writes Marcel
Kanyangulat from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where nearly 800 German
troops were stationed until last November as part of the EUFOR peacekeeping
In addition to Germany’s role on the international
stage, many respondents cherished German cultural traditions. "Coffee and
cake in the afternoon is a wonderful institution," wrote Steve Simmonds from
Of course, persistent stereotypes still define
some people’s view of Germany. For Peng Peng Ten from Kuala Lumpur, Germany
is still the "Land of sauerkraut and frankfurters, oom-pah-pah bands and
Oktoberfest." Elaine L. Davey from New Zealand says that Germany is about
"lederhosen and dirndl."
In lederhosen or not, the German people also get
kudos for trustworthiness. "I see Germans as serious people who keep their
word," says the 19 year old Romanian Stefan Mihela.
Overall, the responses reflect a recognition that
Germany is a land of more than beer, bratwurst, lederhosen and dirndl.
People across the world are as likely to think of Germans fighting leprosy
and tuberculosis in Nigeria, guaranteeing equal rights for all races,
religions, and nationalities at home and building high quality cars as they
are to think of heel slapping Schuhplattler.
Of course, people across the world are also keen
to point out something that Germans do not always remember. Beer and
bratwurst taste great, and that lederhosen are actually practical hiking
attire. With the national mood still riding high a year after the World Cup,
perhaps Germans themselves are also learning to relax and enjoy the
Republished with permission from "The
Week in Germany"