The Xenophobe's Guide to the Germans

Group of men standing in Lederhosen with hats

The Xenophobe's Guide to the Germans

“The Germans take their humor very seriously. It is not a joking matter.” So says the Xenophobe’s Guide to the Germans, and the same might be said of the Xenophobe Guides authors themselves as they, through their flippantly funny guidebooks, offer a guarantee to cure any traveler’s xenophobia.
by Nicolette Stewart

This tongue-and-cheek guide to German culture hopes to dispel stereotypes and, through humor, provide an accurate portrait of the country.  It is “A guide to understanding the Germans that uncovers their insecurities and gently dispels even the most ingrained prejudices,” explains the publisher’s website.  This isn’t a guide covering the usual pretzel-and-beer stereotypes of German culture, but an in-depth—though oft satirical—analysis of the national character.

Stereotypes are introduced, addressed, and then turned on their heads with subtle yet effective humor.  Of course not every German citizen is as the book describes, but some Germans certainly are, and people who know the country and its people well will get the most out of this book’s humor.   Those unfamiliar with Germany would do well to take the book with more than a few grains of salt.  But all in all, German-born authors Stefan Zeidenitz and Ben Barkow manage to hit the national Zeitgeist squarely on the head.

So what does the Xenophobe’s Guide have to say about the Germans?  Take this except about German identity: “They like to see themselves as romantic—not in a Mediterranean flowery-compliments-and-bottom-pinching way, but in the stormy genius mode.  Inside every German there is a touch of the wild-haired Beethoven striding though forests and weeping over a mountain sunset, grappling against impossible odds to express the inexpressible.  This is the Great German Soul, prominent display of which is essential whenever Art, Feeling and Truth are under discussion.” 

Want to read more?  Visit the Xenophobe’s Guide website.

by Nicolette Stewart