OK, here are my two cents to this discussion too because, just like pretty much ANY foreigner I've ever met living in Germany, I've had my own run-ins with German rudeness camouflaged by so-called 'directness'. I've been here 3 years now and I still can't get used to it, or accept it, or swallow it--and I still don't buy the argument that it's not worse, just different, and we should all--all of us outsiders--simply take it because we're here, we're married to Germans, and it's just Their Way after all.
For me, Germans are a bit autistic. I'm convinced they all have a form of mild Asperger's--and sure, maybe I'm joking but who knows, maybe there IS such a thing as social autism? And when I say this I'm quite serious and don't mean to be rude at all, either to people who really do have Aspergers or to Germans. It's simply an observation because they clearly lack an 'edit' button--that little voice inside your head which tells you 'think before you speak' and 'keep that to yourself, that's none of your business.' I've worked with kids in the high-functioning autism scale for a long time and I always found them quite brilliant, with a heart of gold, but shockingly insensitive to what the rest of us are taught from the cradle up as 'basic niceness'. By now, given a few exceptions (and, mathematically speaking, exceptions only prove the rule), I've come to the conclusions that most Germans I've met and have come to know well are very, very similar. So while I don't get the feeling from most of them that I've gotten many, many times over from Americans, Brits, or other people (the feeling that, maybe, this person's an asshole or that person would slit my throat, socially speaking, if they could) I am ALWAYS shocked by what comes out of their mouths and plenty of times want to kill them for their remarks.
I'm luckier than Jeremy or others because my German husband didn't grow up here all the time, lived in very international circumstances, and left for good quite young, so he doesn't have a lot of that 'German Thing' and we hardly ever have that problem. Also, few members of his family still live here so we don't have a lot of in-laws interaction (thank god) either. I've certainly had my share of such experiences the few times we do interact, though, and even when obviously living abroad for so long has weakened this German Thing, it's still there in their basic personality make-up and it flares up now and then--to disastrous consequences, not only with me but with their foreign spouses and mostly foreign-bred kids, as well as foreign friends or acquaintances.
So the point is: Germans and German-defenders (when it comes to this German Thing anyway) can say whatever they want about how it's just their way, they're just being direct, saying it to your face instead of behind your back, and it's 'different, not better or worse', how if we're married to Germans and living in Germany it's our job to put up with it, etc etc etc-- but sorry, I don't buy any of that. I grew up all over the world, never lived in one country for more than a few years and doubt I ever will, have been surrounded by people from different countries, cultures and races my entire life and I was NEVER told to just 'grin and bear it' when I confronted cultural habits that were simply to me quite wrong. I can put up with their tiny spaces and awful stores and other bizarre living conditions and obviously I don't go around with a sign telling them to change all of that because where I come from, we're different. But 'putting up with it' doesn't mean that I have to a) like it or accept it as right or normal. On the other hand, I don't see why, simply because I'm the outsider, I have to put up with behavior from them towards me that I find offensive--in some cultures, for example, it might be okay for someone to slap your face in the street but would YOU just take it? Part and parcel of interaction and an increasingly inter-connected world is a shifting of cultural norms and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's the way it should be. I've known plenty of Germans in the US who were shocked and outraged by plenty of US customs they found offensive, and they were as vocal and upset as we are here now. And sure, some Americans would shrug and retort 'if you don't like it, leave' (the standard ignorant response of the idiot) but plenty of others, those of us always keen to see beyond our borders and develop, would show interest and ask the why and how of it.
That's where Germans rub me the wrong way--sorry, but they ARE arrogant. There's no other way around it. Arrogance is their pill and their downfall--and YES, that IS one reason why (other) people don't like them much. I've not yet figured out if they're arrogant because at heart they're actually insecure, or if it's yet another unpleasant result of Prussianism, or if it's a side effect of their obsessive-compulsive perfectionism (another facet of arrogance, really, omnipotence), or even a way to cover up their constant 'angst' of and for everything. Whatever it is, they come off as finger-up-in-the-air pointing, self-righteous busy bodies running around like clucking hens telling everybody What Is What. Thy simply don't get taught as kids to live and let live--that it is NOT their business (or their right) to go and tell someone else how to do something, or not do it, or who they are. And for me, the worst of is that, as many have observed, they can dish it out but they can't take it. The will with utmost ease and complacency tell you whatever they want to tell you and expect you to sit there dumb and numb (It Is For Your Own Good!!) and yet are flustered beyond belief if you then turn around and do the exact same thing--and I've done it, so I've seen it. They will spend countless hours dissing this and that, saying the US has a crappy health care system for e.g., but if you sit there calmly (sometimes agreeing, why not?) and then when they're finally silent you politely retort that sure, but the German health care is crap too, isn't it, and pretty amoral, etc, they'll go beet-red in the face and fluster off another of my favorite German Things: the always fascinating Rationalization, Justification and/or Explanation. Mm, they're so darn good at this!! Basically, this is how it goes: the entire world is fair game for German Directness but when it comes to Deutschland, EVERYTHING has an explanation and if not, then a rationalization and failing that, at least a justification. Everything. You can never get them to just sit (sit, good doggie, sit) and actually acknowledge a crap about their country or their culture. Never. Why do they have such a crappy education system, you ask them? And the'll hedge and hammer off until they're blue in the face with facts, figures and nonsensical historical 'waffling' as I call it, anything to not face the fact that they DO have a crappy education system- Can't just sit and say 'you're right, we do, and we should do something about it.' Too much for them. Hey, I can't even get them to acknowledge their crappy weather! I've never met a Brit, for e.g., who didn't make fun of their crappy weather... Germans, though? It's always: 'Ah, well, global warming, ya know...' Sure, global warming is why you people have been running off to Italy and Spain for decades in search of the sun. Global warming is the reason why you don't have a decent summer.
Anyway: back to Jeremy. I've only read a few of his rants about fat Germans and sure, it may be a bit off if you're fat yourself (!) and, also, if you're either a Brit or an American, where I've seen far more fat people than anywhere else in the world, but so what? Jeremy has every right to rant in an online place like Toytown about fat Germans. That's what these sites are for, after all. Maybe, hopefully, after his rant he does NOT go straight to the first fat German he meets and calls out, 'hey, you're fat!' He's not really hurting or offending anyone, however un-PC it may seem, and he's certainly not violating any basic social niceness. The MIL, on the other hand, that's an entirely different thing. First off, I don't see in what alternate universe is it any of her business whether her son in law is fat or fatter at all. His body and his food intake is only his business, and at most also his wife's. Her business ENDS before it gets to his!! How come she wasn't taught that? One of the first lessons from my parents: your rights are not all-encompassing and they end when you reach another person's existence. That's what makes the world go around. Jeremy never chose his MIL and she's only in his life by default--it's her daughter he chose, and this poor woman seems to have confused that fact. Secondly, if by some miracle her remark comes from some genuine concern, then at the very least she could have pulled him to some corner and (actually expressing concern, not Teutonic Fact) made her observation then: 'Jeremy, dear, I'm concerned: you seem to have put on weight. Are you taking care of yourself?' If Jeremy is sensitive about his weight he may still feel the sting, but also her genuine concern and then he may have swallowed the sting and not blown off the way he did. Thirdly, the FIL and Wife's reactions completely amaze me--the FIL behaved in yet another typically German busybody way, but who cares about him anyway. But the wife? Who's side is she on, for crissakes? Who did SHE marry? If she had the independence of mind to marry a non-German why can't she take him as and for what he is? I'd be beyond outraged if my husband took a line like that. Furthermore, if my mother ever said anything that personal to my husband (not that she ever would) I'd simply kill her. He's my partner in life and I love him more than anyone in the world after my sons and I'd never allow anyone, family included, to hurt or offend him--even if THEY don't consider they are hurting or offending. If you marry someone from a totally different culture, say, where it's considered rude to spit at someone when you say hello and yet in your culture they do spit, would you force the person you love to endure the spitting for the sake of family peace? I would not. You may not be able to force the Aldi cashier to be polite and friendly, maybe, but you can certainly force your own intimate family members to show a little consideration to your foreign spouse.