German Cultural Analysis
Germany, a western-central European country is a very rich and productive nation, despite its well-known reputation as being one of the antagonists in World War II. The war caused factions and divisions in the country but it was reunified during the early-mid 1990’s. Along with this reunification was the effort to strengthen the culture of the country through its people. The government introduced it not only to the people of Germany but also the people of the world.
Now, Germany is at par, or even greater than its European neighbors. It is already the world’s largest exporter of goods, and by far the third largest economy, based on its Gross Domestic Products. But productivity is not the only measure of the richness of a country. It also has to have a great cultural background, which is also possessed by Germany.
One measure of a society’s culture is its literature. German literature is rooted to the time of the Middle Ages, wherein it spawned a lot of great minds and authors.
These authors include Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. There are also epic writings of unknown authors that are truly masterpieces of the German culture.
Writings that reflect the German culture include “Nibelungenlied,” which means “The Song of Nibelungs” in English. It is a poem which tells about a dragon-slayer named Siegfried, and the twists that happen in his life and death. He was murdered, and his wife avenged his death, with the story revolving around the theme of revenge and hatred. This story was based on Germanic tribal culture, which was handed down from one ancestral mouth to another. This was a manifestation of German culture’s roots, their ethnic ancestry, and their history. It boasts of wonderful adventurous themes and concepts, often leading to twists like murder and betrayal. This is but a proof of the German culture’s superiority in the field of literature, rivaling that of Greek and Roman outputs.
German literature also showcases wonderful fairytales in the writings of the world famous Brothers Grimm, which are Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. These fairytales include Cinderella, Tom Thumb. Sleeping Beauty, The Goose Girl, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstilzchen, Snow White, and a lot more world famous stories. Theologian Martin Luther, the one responsible for translating the Bible into German is also accounted for the conception of the High German language that we know of today. There are also a lot of German poets that emerged, which includes Lessing, Goethe, Schiller and many more, some of which are known worldwide for their writings. As for the 20th century authors, Germans boast of four Nobel Prize writers. These brilliant minds are Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Heirich Boll, and Gunter Grass, whose writings have been exemplary contributions to the literature of the modern times.
Intercultural communication is manifested in the context of literature since it establishes an improvement in the aspect of communication for different cultures. Cultures are able to know more about each other through these writings, thus being able to understand more about other people’s lifestyles, and know what they would do or be if ever they are in these people’s shoes. A concrete example of this is in tourism. Through the writings from other cultures, most of the people are enticed to go abroad just to see how these places are. This creates a new environment in the mind of other people, thus making them want to put their selves in the place of other culture.
When it comes to music, Germany has produced a lot of world-renowned classical composers. The quality of work they produced can’t be matched by other artists, elevating the German culture in the field of music. These composers and musicians include Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven. Bach was an excellent composer and organist who are known for his works in choir, orchestra and solo instruments. He was one of the proponents of the Baroque period in music, and has been able to produce the most out of it. On the other hand, Beethoven was a composer regarded to be one of the best in the world in the field of composing classical pieces. He is known as a composer, but he was also proficient in musical instruments like the piano and the violin, and was also a great conductor.
Music has been an evident manifestation of intercultural communication. This is because it serves as a melting pot of various cultures, serving as a way to express each other’s beliefs and ideas. Through these, various cultures are able to understand each other, as it is reflected in their music. It serves as a mode of communicating to the other cultures what is happening or what has happened in that specific cultures, like signs of oppression, wars, or prosperity, of which have all been experienced in germany.
Another manifestation of culture is in its cinema. German cinema is accounted for the beginnings of the field, which is usually associated with Max Skladanowsky. Skladanowsky was an inventor and a filmmaker. He was able to come up with the early movie projector which was named “Bioscop”. Along with his brother/co-inventor Emil, they used the Bioscop to display the first moving picture show to a paying audience in late 1895. During the Nazi reign, mostly propaganda films were produced to the people to disseminate the ideology to the viewing public. But starting in the 1960’s, West-German films had been started to gain popularity, with international appearances making them renowned worldwide, and this is because of the efforts of the New German Cinema. This includes directors like Schindorff, Herzog, Wenders, and Fassbeider. Their films are largely provocative films, like “Das Boot,” “Run Lola Run,” and more.
Fine Arts and Decorative Arts
Other aspects to consider are the Fine arts and Decorative arts, which include paintings, sculptures and architectural contributions. German renaissance painters carved a name and reputation in the face of the global artworks scene. These artists include Albrecht Altdorfer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Grunewald, and the famous artist Albrecht Durer. There are also artists of the Baroque era which Germany can be proud of. These include Asam and Peter Paul Rubens. Other artists on the list are romanticist Caspar Friedrich, surrealist Max Ernst, Joseph Beuys and Georg Baseiltz who are conceptualist and neo-expressionist respectively.
When it comes to architectural designs and contributions, German culture has been exemplary and considered as the proponent of Romanesque. This is because of the use of designs like Carolingan and Ottonian designs and styles, which are considered to be necessary precursors or starters of Romanesque. During the time of the of the World War II, the Nazis closed other movements and showed an affinity towards neo-classicism. But after the war and with the reunification of the country, they were able to ressurect the lost or closed artistic movements. Germans also have other styles like Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, proof of how flexible the German culture is, since it adopted and assimilate these various styles and designs. German culture was able to adopt the various trends in the neighboring European countries and honed it much to its advantage. The Germans are utilizing it in their creations, yet theirs still boasts of a certain individuality and originality, traits which are unique to the German culture.
Religion and Religious traditions
Culture and religion are concepts which are almost inseparable, since religion is a precursor of a culture. It is evident in the case of Germany, since it has been divided into various beliefs and religions through the course of time. More than 60 percent of the German people are Christians, wherein it is divided equally between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Protestantism has spread because of protestant reformers that grew in popularity during the time of a religious unrest in Germany. It was when people are questioning the Catholic Church, some directly opposing their teachings and beliefs and seeking change in the religion they are preaching and forcing other people to believe. These church reformers include Martin Luther, which was one of the great minds in Germany. Way back in the course of history, Germany has considerably large amounts of Jewish population. But when the Nazi reign came to power, their number greatly went down, especially after the holocaust or the mass killing of Jews as commanded by Hitler. Germany has been able to produce a great number of religious thinkers or theologians which include Luther, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, and Otto.
Religion plays a part in shaping the culture since it can mold the way people thinks and reacts to his environment. Religion not only influences the people individually but also how they mingle with others, so basically it brings a societal appeal on culture. There are also divisions in religion that could play a part on the disarray or disorder of a certain society. This is what resulted to the Nazi reign, since Hitler felt that he was being oppressed by the Jews, he felt that he has to eliminate all of them. This is but one of the many instances when the intermixing of cultures becomes bad to the society, Germany is the proof that it could actually happen.
Education and Academic Landmarks
Another proponent of culture is education. It is a necessary ingredient in reaching out to the people by disseminating the information you wish for them to learn. Education keeps up with competitiveness in a global level. If the country doesn’t invest on the minds of the people, then it will hardly have progress on its way. Germany has this ingredient that’s why it was able to keep up and meet the demands of the global setting today. It was able to incorporate other knowledge from other countries and use them for their advantage. They are enriching what is in the heads of the people. Some institutions that provide education that will enrich the German culture include University of Tubingen, University of Gottingen, University of Marburg, University of Berlin, Heidelberg University, Freiburg University and many more, which means that people in Germany really has a choice in where to go and what to take for their formal education.
Educations role in a society or in a cultural group is to teach people things that will enable them to be competitive. We equip ourselves with this learning because we want to compete with others, so that we will be considered as substandard. Germany was successful in these fields, thus making them highly competitive to their neighboring European countries and any other country in the world. This increases the level of the German culture when we consider the system of education and the quality of their outputs, thus making them view superiority in their culture more.
Another unique characteristic of a culture is through its food, wherein it proves the saying that what you eat can tell you what kind of person you are. German cuisine still has variations depending on what region you’re in, but the main determining characteristic is that it has an affinity towards meat. It’s most famous food product is the sausage, with a lot of variations depending on the region it was made. It also utilizes potatoes as food extenders and appetizers, which is always associated with meat products, which the Germans really like. They are also into salads, which is made distinct with the sauces that they put in it. Germans are also known for their likings of sweet desserts and cakes, especially fruit cakes. They are also known in the bread making industry for their rye bread. Another distinguishing characteristic is their love for beer and wine, which is an influence from their neighboring countries. They are known for merry making and celebration, since they are known to be heavy eaters and strong drinkers.
Sports and Recreation
German culture is known to be active and fun-loving, a characteristic that makes them candidates for worldwide sports activities. It has been a part of their culture that they like healthy competition and sportsmanship, since it has been said that sports is an integral part of German life, wherein a lot of them are a fan of or are engaging in various sports. The sport that has gained a great following in Germany is the Football, and it has probably the biggest athletic organization of the country. Germany also has a team delegation in the worldwide football competition which is the World Cup. The other two sports that have wide popularity in Germany are marksmanship and tennis, wherein both have more than a million members. Other sports that are usually played in the country include volleyball, baseball, ice hockey and other popular ball games.
Germany is also a very strong player when it comes to the Olympic games, proving the they are one of the forces that you have to deal with if you want to win in the competition. If you look at the records, you’ll see that they were able to finish sixth in the 2004 Summer Olympics, while in the 2006 Winter Olympics, they bagged the first place overall winning position.
This is but a proof that Germany has a culture that can match or be placed side by side with any other culture. There may be differences on how things were before; Germany has really showed that they were able to recover from the harsh realities of war. It is like falling from a high place and being able to bounce back higher, proving all the negative speculations wrong.
Comparison of US and German Culture
When we talk about comparing the United States and the German Culture, we can’t help but associate how these two countries went head to head during the World War II, wherein the U.S. are members of the Allied forces, while Germany were in the Axis end. But associating war with the culture comparison would be pointless, since there are other underlying principles when we talk about war. It was basically a battle between the United States forces and the Nazi heads and leaders, and not all the people of Germany, as many of us usually imply. If we are to talk about culture as a basis of comparison, then we should look into the aspects that comprise the concept of culture.
Basically, the United States has been a melting pot of various people from various countries, thus leading to the intermixing of different cultures. It becomes a heterogeneous mixture of cultural traces from different countries of Asia, and the neighboring countries of Europe and South America. If we are to consider these additional cultures rather than the original American culture, then it will surely overwhelm that of the German culture. But if we are to consider only the original untainted American culture, then there are a lot of points to compare.
First and foremost, America has little established names when it comes to art and music of the classical period, wherein most of the credit would come from the German culture. Germany has produced the likes of Michelangelo and Leonardo the Vinci in the field of the arts, wherein they contributed countless masterpieces that are still celebrated at the present time. In the field of Music, the Germans were able to produce the likes of Johann Bach, Beethoven and Richard Wagner, each of them an unbeatable force when it comes to skills in playing instruments or composing orchestral pieces that would surely bring a house down. These people are considered “gods’ of their times when it comes to music. They can write pieces, perform them, and even conduct that piece to a big orchestra, whereas in the United States, there were but a few names that made little impact in the music scene.
But then again, United States is not United States without the other cultures that intermingle in the society. The U.S. has created a trend which does not promote individuality of creations for a certain culture, but instead, it introduced a “general” culture, something that anyone could grasp, something that anyone could associate with this, the trend of culture in the United States has been about setting standards and following trends, depending on what the trendsetter has started. In music, if the people are craving for pop tunes, then pop artists would surface and profit on the needs of the people. In the arts, we are now moving in a digital world, which is experienced not only in the United States but in Germany also. People’s appreciation are diminishing, being replaced with their affinity to digitalized creations, even though it is far-fetched compared to that of actual artworks like paintings and sculptures.
World War II issues should not get in the way when we talk about the German Culture. If we look at it carefully, you’ll notice its richness in a deep cultural sense. You will have to experience it before you fully get a grasp of what it is about, not only just the superficial, but also the things that the eye can’t see. German culture is highly competitive and is comparatively at par with other strong countries culture, or may even be stronger. It just depends on the understanding of the people, depending on how the view things and how they take it.
Flinn, C. (2004). The New German Cinema: Music, History, and the Matter of Style, University of California Press; 1st edition.
When New German cinema directors like R. W. Fassbinder, Ulrike Ottinger, and Werner Schroeter explored issues of identity–national, political, personal, and sexual–music and film style played crucial roles. Most studies of the celebrated film movement, however, have sidestepped the role of music, a curious oversight given its importance to German culture and nation formation. Caryl Flinn’s study reverses this trend, identifying styles of historical remembrance in which music participates. Flinn concentrates on those styles that urge listeners to interact with difference–including that embodied in Germany’s difficult history–rather than to “master” or “get past” it. Flinn breaks new ground by considering contemporary reception frameworks of the New German Cinema, a generation after its end. She discusses transnational, cultural, and historical contexts as well as the sexual, ethnic, national, and historical diversity of audiences. Through detailed case studies, she shows how music helps filmgoers engage with a range of historical subjects and experiences. Each chapter of The New German Cinema examines a particular stylistic strategy, assessing music’s role in each. The study also examines queer strategies like kitsch and camp and explores the movement’s charged construction of human bodies on which issues of ruination, survival, memory, and pleasure are played out.
Geuss, R. (2004). Morality, Culture, and History: Essays on German Philosophy, Cambridge University Press.
Raymond Geuss is the author of The Idea of a Critical Theory (CUP 1981), a now classic study of the philosophy of the Frankfurt School, and has been a distinctive contributor to the analysis and evaluation of German philosophy and to recent debates in ethics. In this new collection he treats a variety of topics in ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of history with special reference to the work of Hegel, Nietzsche, and Adorno
Goebbels, J. (1944). “Immortal German Culture.” Retrieved April 5, 2007, from http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb43.htm.
Were one to imagine Western culture without its contributions from Germany and Italy, much would be missing. As obvious as this may be, one has to repeat it now and again to give a short but persuasive reply to the enemy’s arrogant talk. They love to pretend to be the protectors and defenders of an art and culture that they themselves have not created, or to which they made at best a modest contribution that could vanish without much harm to the cultural edifice. The art treasures they possess were mostly stolen by their armies in Europe or the rest of the world. They have hardly any cultural achievements of their own, and those that they do have stem from the spiritual consciousness of that part of the world that they today are trying to destroy.
Gramit, D. (2002). Cultivating Music: The Aspirations, Interests, and Limits of German Musical Culture, 1770-1848, University of California Press.
German and Austrian music of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries stands at the heart of the Western musical canon. In this innovative study of various cultural practices (such as music journalism and scholarship, singing instruction, and concerts), David Gramit examines how music became an important part of middle-class identity. He investigates historical discourses around such topics as the aesthetic debates over the social significance of folk music, various comparisons of the musical practices of ethnic “others” to the German “norm,” and the establishment of the concert as a privileged site of cultural activity. Cultivating Music analyzes the ideologies of German musical discourse during its formative period. Claiming music’s importance to both social well-being and individual development, proponents of musical culture sought to secure the status of music as an art integral to bourgeois life. They believed that “music” referred to the autonomous musical work, meaningful in and of itself to those cultivated to experience it properly. The social limits to that cultivation ensured that boundaries of class, gender, and educational attainment preserved the privileged status of music despite (but also by means of) their claims for the “universality” of their canon. Departing from the traditional focus on individual musical works, Gramit considers the social history of the practice of music in Austro-German culture. He examines the origins of the privileged position of the Western canon in musicological discourses and argues that we cannot fully understand the role that canon has played without considering the interests that motivated its creators
Heberle, M. O. (1996). German Cooking, HP Trade; 1st ed edition.
The fall of the Berlin Wall. The joining of East and West. “All of this has stirred ethnic fervor in the hearts of anyone with even a slight German background and has instilled those same individuals with the deesire to learn more about their cultural heritage.” Leaving aside the possible chill wrought by the thought of Germans stirring their ethnic fervor, this is basically just a cookbook. It offers all the echt German dishes: Hasenpfeffer, Black Forest Cherry Cake, Heaven & Earth (made with potatoes and apples), two types of Sauerbraten, three kinds of potato salad, five herring recipes as well as some dishes more closely associated with the old Austro-Hungarian empire, like goulashes and Wiener schnitzel. At its best, the German cooking here is very gemutlich, like Sweet Dumplings with cherry sauce, Eggs in Spinach or the Stuffed Pork Roast with pitted prunes, brandy, bacon and spices. Less good are dishes like Mushroom & Ham Delights or Ham & Noodle Casserole, which are likely to raise visions of Luther League potlucks. Although Heberle (Polish Cooking) does describe the different areas of Germany in her introduction, she does little to contextualize the recipes themselves.
Lepenies, W. (2006). The Seduction of Culture in German History, Princeton University Press.
The German obsession with high culture has no parallel elsewhere: Berlin alone has three opera houses, and Hitler was more distraught by the Allied bombing of Nazi-approved cultural monuments than the destruction of his cities. Lepenies, a leading German intellectual and journalist, examines this pride, a phenomenon he says is at odds with the status of culture in France, Britain and America. In the latter countries, the concept of “culture” includes everything from politics to sports, morality to social issues. Only in Germany does Kultur solely represent the exalted life of the mind; it opposes, “with mandarin-like scorn,” everyday politics and economics, and carries a concomitant belief in the superiority of the German nation over other nations concerned with such matters. Lepenies brilliantly argues that this notion of Kultur has profoundly influenced Germany’s domestic and foreign policy for centuries. According to Lepenies, the German indifference to politics partly caused the downfall of the Weimar Republic (too few could be bothered to defend it from its enemies), contributed to the rise of Nazi ideology and continues to shape Germany’s sometimes troubled relations with its European neighbors and America.
Lord, R. (2003). Culture Shock! Germany Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company; Revised edition.
Whether you’re conducting business, traveling for pleasure, or even relocating abroad, one mistake with customs or etiquette can leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. International travelers, now more than ever, are not just individuals from the United States, but ambassadors and impression makers for the country as a whole. This book does deliver on its promise in that it is full of interesting and useful facts and anecdotes about German culture, but the underlying and pervasive tone of the book is negative.
Nees, G. (2000). Germany: Unraveling an Enigma, Intercultural Press.
Finally – a well-researched and up-to-date book on Germany and the Germans. The author gives some historical background, an overview of German cultural themes, a comparison between typical German and American communication patterns, and an overview of the German business model and business beharviors. The last chapter is devoted to exploring the changes in German society at the turn of the 21st century. As one of them (yes, I am German), I have felt accurately portrayed, without the stereotypical mindlessnesses that tends to charactarize a lot of American authors writing about Germany.
Rose, P. L. (2001). Heisenberg and the Nazi Atomic Bomb Project, 1939-1945: A Study in German Culture, University of California Press; New Ed edition.
Rose addresses several important and interrelated historiographical questions. He analyzes how Heisenberg and other prominent physicists dealt with the moral issues of working for the Nazis and how Nazi ideology intersected, and influenced, their work. Rose argues that Heisenberg misunderstood several key physical principles; consequently, Nazi scientists were directed away from the development of atomic weaponry. Interestingly, Rose uses this information as part of his analysis of Heisenberg’s postwar “confessions,” in which the scientist described himself not only as apolitical but claimed he never intended to build an atomic bomb. Rose concludes that Heisenberg was attempting to cloud his support of the Nazi state, much as Albert Speer did when he claimed to be an apolitical technocrat. A fascinating book, but not for beginners; recommended for specialized collections on the history of science and modern intellectual history.
Schmidt, P. (2007). Understanding American and German Business Cultures, Meridian World Press; Updated 3rd edition
This useful guidebook is the only intercultural text that explains the different organizational behaviors between Germany and the United States. The comparative method is used so that the reader is able to immediately grasp where the differences are and become conscious of his or her own national uniqueness an ideal tool for overcoming intercultural misunderstandings. Whether German or American, this book will stimulate your understanding of both sides to an increasingly important partnership-equation. Examples are drawn from both the United States and Germany.
Tomlinson, A. (2006). German Football: History, Culture, Society and the World Cup 2006, Routledge; 1st edition.
German Football: History, Culture, Society provides unprecedented analysis and commentary on the place of football in post-war and post-reunification Germany, revealing the motives and drives underlying Germany’s successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup finals. The contributors explore the significance of football in German sporting and cultural life, showing how football has emerged as a major focus for the expression of a coherent national identity and as evidence of the restoration of German national pride in the post-World War II period.
Wolfart, J. C. (2002). Religion, Government and Poltical Culture in Early Modern Germany: Lindau, 1520-1628, Palgrave Macmillan.
This story of conflict in an island community offers a valuable case study for the analysis of early modern German political culture. Investigations range from interpersonal relations to dynamics of civic church and imperial government. Chronicled throughout are the interactions of two opposing principles in modern society, secular and spiritual, and public and private. These are found to operate both discursively and institutionally, and are deployed to help established sovereign authority (Obrigkeit ) as well as to articulate resistance in the form of bourgeois republican ideology.
Cite this German Cultural Analysis Essay
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