The Culture That Defines Germany Cultural Studies Essay
Talking about the culture in Germany means we have to clarify where culture in general comes from, how it relates to certain regions and how to detect it.
There is great complexity associated with culture.
Culture is an ever evolving process that may change from generation to generation
There are substantial cultural differences within each region.
Berlin is one of the most open minded and liberal cities in Europe.
Bavaria maintains a cultivation of heritage and traditions
Food, Beer and soccer are what come to mind about German culture.
Germans have a saying "Breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dine like a beggar"
Beer greatly ingrained into German culture.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the nation.
One of the largest national soccer associations in the world.
The sport brings the country together in support of the national team.
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National pride in Germany has been a taboo topic since military defeat in two world wars
A race who historically was not second class individuals
Germans felt eminence shame and guilt for the heinous crimes the Nazis had committed.
In 1990 the fall of the Berlin wall
The reunification proved more difficult than expected
Cultural assumptions and expectations on both sides
Changing mind-set among the German people
Slowly the German identity was found, just merely asleep and not died
German Identity, Long Dormant, Reasserts Itself.
Conclusion: A nation with such a rich history, some of which are the darkest know to mankind. The people of Germany still find a way to reemerge as one of today's great economic leaders. The culture itself has had many transformations in recent history. Post World War II being the most influential with the nation brought to its knees and stare at in shame the atrocities the Nazis had committed. The War spit the nation in two, controlled by two separate super power nations with opposite mind sets. The Nation, decades later reunified. However, the different in social, economics and norm made for a painful reunion. Through all of this, the German people in recent years began to find the nations identity and find pride in their nation while they grow let go of the past.
SSG Babb, Christopher D.
22 October 2012
The Culture that defines Germany
Germany is one of Europe's most successful and influential nations. A nation famed by its achievements in engineering, it has also catalyzed many of the world's great composers, poets and philosophers. Germany's vast culture has many influences that shaped it into what it is today. German Culture varies from region to region showing diversity the way its people think. Established for centuries and continues to thrive despite many obstacles. The nation and its people have endured two world wars, a disunion that spit the country into two nation-states and the reunification of East and West Germany.
Talking about culture in Germany means one must clarify where culture in general comes from, how it relates to certain regions and how to detect it. It is not only a matter of understanding the multifarious individual aspects but of comprehending how every single character intermeshes and complements with one another until it forms a culture. There is great complexity associated with culture. Hofstede defines culture as" the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another" (Hofstede) One must determine culture is learned and not hereditary. With this being said, there are many aspects that form a culture, everything from the language, religion, cuisine and past historical events to name a few. Culture is an ever evolving process that may differ from generation to generation. As the world changes and new social issues arise, a society will adapt and overcome. By doing so, they will create new norms and the everyday life will then gradually change over time.
Germany is a descended of the Latin word Germania. However, the German language name Deutschland derived from Germanic roots meaning people. Germany is located in Central Europe with 9 countries at its borders. It consists of sixteen "Bundeslaender" also referred to as federal states with Berlin the capital being in the north east region of the country. There are substantial cultural differences within each region. Germans refer to Berlin as a center for politics, media, science and culture. They describe it as a collection of youth and creative minds providing the city with its cosmopolitan atmosphere, allowing Berlin to be one of the most open minded and liberal cities in Europe. On the other side of the scale, located in the southern region of Germany, Bavaria maintains a cultivation of heritage and traditions holding a conservative mind set throughout the region. The older generation expresses the importance of their heritage to the youth by involving them in the traditional events such as the October fest where the sauerkraut eating, beer drinking and lederhosen wearing German cultural stereotypes derives from.
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Food, beer and soccer are what comes' to mind with German culture. The Roman historian Tacitus described the Germans as a "warrior nation, hard-drinking, honest and hospitable." He spoke of German cuisine as "simple" but hearty (Tacitus), this still holds true today. Bread alone has over 600 different types, while there are over 1500 types of sausage. Sausage making has a long tradition, having more than 100 different regional variants. Germans have a saying "Breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dine like a beggar" (1) meaning that they typically eat a large breakfast consisting of breads, cheese, cold cuts and jams. Lunch would be traditionally the only warm meal in the day. This normally contains of meats, potatoes, salads and soups. This may vary in different regions. Finally, dinner is mostly light with rolls, cheeses and salads served with a beer or wine.
Beer is ingrained into German culture, so much so that nearly each village, town and city contains multiple breweries with dozens of different types of beer. According to the German Beer Institute, Germany has approximately 1,200 breweries generating more than 5,000 brands of beer, mostly of regional styles. Germans take beer seriously jokingly saying that it is the National beverage. Radeberger Gruppe displays the importance of beer by saying "beer is the people's mood barometer and their anchor. It is consumed with extreme passion."(Radeberger) Germans drink beer more as a social event rather than to get intoxicated. Groups throughout the community may come together a few times a week to enjoy each others' company with a couple of beers. Many time just to talk about normal casual day to day events. Along with the evening beers, Germans converse about sports. They follow most common sports but there is no other cherished more than soccer.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the nation. The Deutscher Fussball Bund is one of the largest national soccer associations in the world with more 25,000 registered soccer clubs and approximately 6.8 million members. The league has more than 2,500 divisions in a pyramid system. The high number of participates demonstrates the significant influence the sport has on the culture. Not only are Germans loyal to their regional teams, the sport brings the country together in support of the national team. Events such as the Euro Cup and the World Cup bind the people as one with their flag. They organize and follow the team to such events no matter the distance, wearing their national colors with pride. Germans raise their flags and sing the national anthem in the one occasion they feel allowed to show pride in their country, as the people of Germany remain hunted by past historical event.
National pride in Germany has been a taboo topic since military defeat in two world wars and the unraveling of their society, with the vast majority of Germans accepting that they cannot express any form of patriotism. Post World War II saw the use of national symbols being subdued to the point where it would be difficult to find a store that one could buy a German Flag. It was a damaging defeat with catastrophic effects on the German psyche. A race who historically was not second class individuals, Ebey Soman states in a web article, "German men have had profound impact on the world. From religious reformers such as Martin Luther to notables such as Beethoven, Nietzsche, Max Born and Werner Von Braun, German men made immense contributions to every field."(Soman) However, their defeat in World War II emasculated them. They emerged feeble and worn from the war. Germans felt eminence shame and guilt for the heinous crimes the Nazis had committed. That guilt, and fear of what would happen if patriotism is taken too far, molded the modern German understanding of National Pride.
In 1990 the fall of the Berlin wall had finally, reunited USSR controlled East Germany with the Republic of West Germany. The unification was rejoiced by thousands of Germans from the east hopeful to enjoy the same freedoms of the western world. However, the reunification proved more difficult than expected. A complex process with social, political and economic issues was not foreseen. This was due to cultural assumptions and expectations on both sides. Many East Germans felt their norms, values and traditions were devalued, as West Germans expected the east to conform to the norms of the west. Laura Heuvinck states in 20 Years of German reunification & Ostalgie. "Many East Germans felt themselves to be under-represented in the reunified Germany and felt like second-class citizens dismissed by West Germany." (Heuvinck) This still is a significant social issue today 20 years later. Although the physical was brought down, many of the psychological walls still exists between East and West Germans today. The unified nation found its self in economic depression after the fall of the Berlin Wall, with a growth rate of -1.6 from 1992 to 1993 and unemployment at 20% in some regions of the country. Despite these problems, the process of unification slowly moved ahead.
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In an article by Rod Hall "Many see a changing mind-set among the German people. A growing self-confidence and assertiveness is emerging 65 years after World War II and two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany."(Hall) The newer generation, with no recollection of the horrific atrocities of the Second World War feel as if there have gotten past it. This is evident with a shift in patriotic German flags flown from houses and German music played on the airwaves. Slowly the German identity was found, just merely asleep and not died. "The country has now awakened, ready to celebrate its economic ingenuity, its cultural treasures and the unsullied stretches of its history. (Kulish)" Stated by Nicholas Kulish in German Identity, Long Dormant, Reasserts Itself.
A nation with such a rich history, some of which are the darkest know to mankind. The people of Germany still find a way to reemerge as one of today's great economic leaders. The culture itself has had many transformations in recent history. Post World War II being the most influential with the nation brought to its knees and stare at in shame the atrocities the Nazis had committed. The War spit the nation in two, controlled by two separate super power nations with opposite mind sets. The Nation, decades later reunified. However, the different in social, economic and norm made for a painful reunion. Through all of this, the German people in recent years began to find the nations identity and find pride in their nation while they grow let go of the past.
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