Germans rarely admit that they're wrong

205 posts in this topic

I disagree! :)

 

Oh well. Been here too long I guess. War's over anyway.

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Ok who highjacked my thread!!?? Back on topic please. Start a another thread about the events of WWII!

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OK back to topic..

 

Ready?

 

Today I got a call from my child's German great grandma. She said she had got mixed up and sent a birthday card to my child 2 months early - she was practically in tears and tearing her hair out and had to explain everything in detail. Yes, Germans do admit mistakes.

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In my experience, younger Germans easily admit mistakes. They are less interested in saving face and more interested in moving on, because whatever it is that is at issue is probably not worth it.

 

IMO this is probably a generational thing as well.

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I suspect that there are several factors in play here, all on sliding scales:

 

Familiarity (Stranger -> Sie -> Denglisch Sie -> Du)

Seniority (or "perception of superiority" ;))

Age

Open-mindedness / acceptance of other cultures

 

Example 1: 50-something department head. From him I got the "ziemlich Recht" that Bipa mentioned. Once. Red letter day!

Example 2: 40-something team leader (lived in US for 2-3 years). "Ja, schon klar" or "Du hast Recht, aber..." if I push.

Example 3: 30-something technical expert. "Gib dir Recht" "Was meinst du?" regularly: very cooperative working relationship

Example 4: 30-something bean counter, based on another site. Never wrong. Argues the toss whenever we interact. Arsch.

Example 5: 20-something checkout operator, knackers the packet when scanning it. "Ihre Paket ist gerissen." Silence.

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Yes, alcoholism will help you to deal with your German [control freak, obviously] in-laws. My way was not letting them think my German was very good... I always had the excuse that I couldn't understand everything they were saying. Try it!

That's a good one! I definitely could stop the conversation whenever they get too controlling (like the time I mentioned being interested in possibly bearing children, and the MIL gleefully announced "Wir machen das Babyzimmer!") and turn to my fiance and tell him I don't understand. It's hard to pretend not to understand when I do, though. But I guess I could hide behind my foreignness some more.

 

Also, they're taking an English class, and it would be good for me to turn the tables once in a while and only speak English to them. (It's hard to control people when you don't understand what they're saying.)

 

Incidentally, for similar reasons, when I'm riding my bike and people start giving me "directions," I've started swearing back at them in English. Feels good.

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So you are this (insert curseword of your choice) in front of me? You are so lucky we are not allowed to carry guns...

You'd still be allowed to, but unfortunately you wrapped the metaphorical national family car around a tree one too many times and the adults of the world had to intercede and take all of your toys away.

 

Sorry, but the one common denominator in most Germans' litany of unsatisfying social interactions is, sadly, themselves!

 

Squirt, squirt! Ooooh ... hope I didn't make your oversized gas-guzzler single-occupancy Firmenwagen's taxpayer-subsidized air conditioning breathe in too much undiluted Baumarkt antifreeze in the middle of June. Sorry.

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Their main problem surely was underestimating Russia and the US, not Britain.

You hit it right on the nail!

As one who lived through that time and even I was young and poorly educated and misinformed,I had eyes to see and ears to hear and a little brain to see that the German war machine was the greatest madness (next to Napoleon's) ever created. It was sheer insanity for the German/Hitler's army to take on the whole world. The attack on Russia alone was the most ill planed and prepared military operation ever undertaken with no ear muffs or gloves or not any other preparedness for the Russian winter. I know that from my brother who got as far as Stalingrad and later lost his life for the fatherland around Leningrad.

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@Gaberlunzi, that may be one of the best historical perspectives ever provided on this site. Magnificent.

 

I recall reading an article years ago where someone discovered a treasure trove of letters home from German soldiers on the Eastern front, where the common denominator was how they'd all been sent out like it would be a springtime lark winging Untermenschen with slingshots, and instead ended up being a frozen wasteland meat grinder where all the equipment ran out of gasoline and the natives weren't exactly overjoyed to see them. They were really like a boy scouts (well, boy scouts with SS daggers and propagandized with notions of racial purity), but the tone of the letters often showed how coddled they were at home. I'm the farthest thing from an apologist, but the infamous Einsatzgruppe seemed to me to be magnets for the sociopaths every society harbors, and it appears as though the average Wehrmacht soldier sent out there probably was as goofy-looking and pimple-faced as the kids in Flecktarm and squishy boots one sees going to Bundeswehr weekend training in Germany today.

 

Actually, having typed that, I think I've just inadvertently described every military "adventure" in human history. As a human race, we're so lame.

 

Edit: Part of my wife's family library included a segregated section of wartime books, which included amazing stuff such as christmas cards from my grandfather-in-law's company's 1942 Christmas card with "Kriegsweihnacht!" jauntily printed over an advent wreath with a swastika up top. The way my mother-in-law describes it, up until June 1944, the whole zeitgeist felt at the time like everything was all good times and color photos of victorious conquest until suddenly everyone had an "oh, shit" moment once the proverbial hornets' nest had been swatted and the carpet bombing started. Since most had had no unfiltered contact/factual news with/from the outside world for almost a decade, they didn't know quite what to think. So, I have some degree of sympathy, although one would have hoped for a bit more FFI, or a a minimum a bit more Hollywood. My wife's family maintains a robust family mythology about guns buried under the haystack and illegal radio receivers and all that, but I remain sceptical. My German-American ancestors had a bit more spine than that.

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Alice just refunded us 600 Euros for a screw up with a nice letter of apology 3 months later but still they do admit their mistakes ;)

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The thread title is something I've actually been wondering about!

 

In my limited experience (dating a German girl for two years) there is absolutely no concept of "picking your battles". No point can ever be conceded, nothing can be let slide. Self-deprecating humour, if understood, gets a vague smile when I do it in private or an embarrassed blink if we're with friends but in neither scenario does it ever originate from her. I've also learned to abstain from even the mildest forms of affectionate ribbing or mock-serious wordplay because more often than not its taken in deadly earnest and as a mortal insult to boot. The closest to acknowledging (forget admitting!) a mistake, even over something harmless or funny like forgetting to put the lid on the blender, is a stony silence, sometimes garnished with an accusatory glare. I remember wondering in the early days if she was especially insecure deep inside (because she a huge extrovert on the surface) but the more I meet her friends I see the same traits. Is there something in the culture that means everything is taken literally and in utter seriousness such that nuance is completely unknown? I should add that we met and lived outside Germany till now, so I'm a newcomer here. She has great qualities, brilliantly supportive, very sweet, loyal to a fault and yes, sexy too so don't misunderstand this post as a rant against an individual. In fact we're taking it a step further and starting a family. I'm just keen to know if these characteristics which are mentioned over and over in this forum are indeed "national" or "cultural" and if so, how can one mitigate? She wants to be "home" for the pregnancy and the child's first year; I've agreed to this (by the way, @ more experienced dads, how far over backwards do you bend during this time?) and though I've lived/studied/worked in 9 countries on 4 continents I am forsooth somewhat loth about the move to Germany!

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Seriously, you all need to remember that we are all HUMAN BEINGS and that fact that you are born in a different country does not change that. You are all simply believing the stereotypes and seeing what you want to see. Get global, we are all citizens of the world:-)

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I'm not entirely sure whether this has been mentioned (I skipped most of the comments as they were somewhat off topic), but you've probably noticed that, when your train is delayed, they thank you for your understanding (wir danken Ihnen für Ihr Verständnis) , but do not apologise for the delay ("I'm sorry to announce that...").

 

A former colleague (German) and I had many discussions about this: he couldn't understand why we would ever apologise that wasn't directly our fault (ie the train being delayed is not the platform manager's fault). My Austrian colleagues were exactly the same... they couldn't understand why I would apologise for something I had no control over *shrug*

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Hello All. I usually do not reply to forums. I mostly enjoy just reading these. I'll venture to guess that I'm older than most here at 51. I lived in Germany over fifteen years ago mainly for the language practice. I do plan to move back for an indefinite period. This is actually for flint24. I would very much like to here a few examples on this topic. For instance, what were the disagreements about and were these strangers or spmeone that you were familar with? Just curious.

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