Germans are well aware that foreigners have tendencies to see them in certain ways. Which region of the world they are dealing with has some influence of how they are seen.
They know that people to the West of Germany, especially French and English speaking peoples tend to jump to certain conclusions. Some right, others wrong.
- Germans are frightening powerful yet unpleasant and speak a difficult language that native speakers of English wouldn’t wish upon their worst enemies….except maybe the Germans (ha ha ?)
- NaZi ism. This is related to item #1, but also involves the perpetuation in the USA at least where there are very old Jewish people who’s native language is either German or Polish, who have American grandchildren. They moved due to the NaZi Party.
3. Still related: in the USA for propaganda reasons, the vast majority of information that Americans get about the Germans and the German language is WW2 re-runs. Due to this most Americans only know a few German words they learned while watching WW2 related documentaries or TV shows or movies.
4. Frau und frauline: Germany is full of happy, blonde women with large breasts who serve beer for a living, at least until they get married and have children.
There are people who have a more current image of Germany. In 2012 it was rated the most popular European country, internationally.
True Stuff about Germans
They can be rather serious, mostly because the Summer is not that warm and people can be hard. German is not that easy to speak but when German there is no choice if one hopes to get anywhere in life.
Germans do tend to be proud but sometimes also uniquely sensitive. They know that if they were not so great and powerful they would not be and have been so dominant in Europe both in peace time and in war time. They know that both North American nations and the Russians viewed them as “the Villain” in 2 world wars. Because of what they have been through as a people, they also feel that the nation degenerated to having been a menace for awhile….but Germans and what is Germany is really much more complicated….Given that the modern “German state” is about 120 years old, but there have been German speaking people living in the same region for 2000 years and more. In fact, the “First Reich” really was 1000 years of Germany being a Catholic Empire and simultaneously the remainder of the Western Roman Empire. *Personally, despite having learned this I find it hard to break through the American-Hollywood images of the Romans and of the Germans to accept this basic truth.
Germans have poor sense of humor. Well, they don’t have the gentlest or most consistent senses of humor but I can assure you that they are less likely to laugh at jokes in English when travelling outside of Germany and dealing with using their “holiday English”. I’m sure there are numerous incidents in which some German didn’t get the joke.