20 interesting facts about Germany (Part I)

You don’t need an invitation to visit Germany, and if you’re a fan of natural landscapes, beer and cars, this is paradise. But we want to surprise you with many more curiosities about this country, today one of the economic engines of Europe and
of the world, so your next visit to this country will be much more interesting.

1. Alemania, Germany o Deutschland, origin of the name.

20 curiosidades Alemania

The origin of Germany accounts for the various groups or peoples that throughout its history have positioned themselves in the territory that we currently recognize in this nation, hence precisely the ways in which we call this country today and that
They come from the ancient Romano-Germanic, Celtic, Teutonic and Slavic tribes, among others.

The name of Germany comes from the ancient Roman-Germanic people that settled in the area and that from around the year 213 began to name the area as “alamanni” (a mestizo and mixed people, with “al” all and “manniz” men) by the
peoples of Latin and Spanish origin and, which regains meaning since 1871 with the foundation of the German Empire, when it is renamed in this way. For its part, in German, it is known as Deutschland, in the sense of “diutisciu land” which means “German lands”.
or “people’s lands”, alluding to the ancient language spoken by the Teutonic people in the area.

And finally, we recognize this land as Germania or Germany in English and, which probably derives from the Celtic people in the area that indicated “gair”, a meaning of neighbors or a war cry.

As you can see, many names, however it is not the only surprise that we have in our
upcoming fun facts. Keep going!.

 

2. Germany, a young nation.

20 curiosidades Alemania

Despite the prehistoric origin and the specific history of various peoples inhabiting the area since prehistory, we recognize the history of today’s Germany in the Holy Roman Empire and especially in the Kingdom of Prussia. However, the direct antecedents of this nation are found only in the year 1871 with the unification of the territories in the German Empire by the Kaiser of that time Wilhelm I (Wilhem I), interrupted by National Socialist Germany (1933-1945) and for the division
between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic since 1945.

Now, on October 3, 1990 we recognize the date of “German Reunification”, the date of the proclamation of the new German Federal Republic and, in this regard, it is important to point out two things:
– We speak of reunification, referring to the unified territories for the first time in 1871.
– Since 1990, the former German Federal Republic has absorbed the state structure of the German Democratic Republic, which is why we do not properly speak of the founding of a new nation.
As you will already realize, whatever the origin of today’s Germany is considered, it is a fairly young nation compared to others in the region and even the world.

 

3. The big cities

20 curiosidades Alemania Frankfurt

Since the origin of this nation is quite young, we can safely specify that this led each of these areas to develop complex economic activities independently, which has meant that each of the 16 federated states (Länder) that make up Germany has large cities with urban centers and economic engines
own.
Thus, for example, we recognize the importance of Hamburg as the main port of Germany (the third in Europe), Bavaria and Munich in particular as an economic and industrial engine, as well as the urban ring of North Rhine-Westphalia (where we find cities such as Bonn, Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, among others), which is also the largest demographic concentration in the country; there is also Stuttgart recognized for being the headquarters of the great automobile companies; Frankfurt airport is one of the main ones in Europe and, of course, we recognize Berlin as the city that concentrates the current politics of the country and probably the history of the 20th century (For more information on this subject, visit our previous guides: What to see in berlin or the 10 unmissable places in Berlin).

 

4. An economical and industrial motor

20 curiosidades Alemania Industria economia

Germany is one of the largest nations in the world, in terms of GDP (gross per capita income) it ranks 5th in the world and 1st in the European Union (EU), in fact it can be considered the economic and industrial engine of this organization. -after removal of
United Kingdom-, of which he is also one of its founding members since 1958. In this regard, we recognize German industry as complex in terms of development, specializing above all in:
– Automotive industry… we will return to this point in the next section, because we are not forgetting the great luxury car brands that were born in this country.
– Construction of machinery, where you have surely heard of brands such as Bosch.
– Chemical industry, here you have surely heard of Bayer or the last famous for its vaccine against Covid-19, Biontech.
– Electrical and electronic industry, surely you have heard of Siemens and SAP, the latter company, for example, is the largest software developer in Europe.
Even outside this realm, there are countless German brands that are tremendously well-known in their fields, such as: the fashion brands Adidas, Puma, Birkenstock and Hugo Boss; banks and financial services such as Allianz, Deutsche Bank and Continental and the international airline Lufthansa, among many… and many others.

 

5. The pasion for automobiles and…speed.20 curiosidades Alemania automoviles

With regard to German industry, this is the country of the great automobile brands, where we find Mercedes Benz, Audi, Porsche, BMW and Volkswagen, global brands of German origin and production. In fact, the automobile industry market is the sixth in the world (after Asian countries and the United States), which even in the 2000s became the third in the world, only after the United States and Japan.

This is one of the reasons why the automobile tradition goes far beyond the manufacture of luxury cars, since we recognize in the Germans their passion for motor racing as a sport, after football, it is the second national sport with the highest
fanatic… surely you have heard of Michael Schumacher, the Formula 1 driver, champion of 7 season titles, who has contributed to amassing great popularity of this activity in Germany.

We also recognize the passion of the Germans for cars and their speed: it is not a myth that German highways (Autobahn) do not have a speed limit, however, there are several safeguards, since near urban areas the limit is highly regulated. and the fines for exceeding the indicated limits are very high.

 

6. Beers

20 curiosidades Alemania cervezas

This topic could cover a complete article to talk about the entire beer tradition that exists in Germany, however, in this small space we will try to inform you about some curiosities of beer in this country:
– Surely you have heard that in this country you can even find beers cheaper than water, which is completely true, you probably don’t believe us, but we have concrete proof: the best-selling beer in Germany is the Beck’s brand (type pils) You can get a 500 cc bottle at any liquor store or supermarket for about 0.70 Euros, whereas you can’t find a bottle of water for less than 1 Euro. With these prices you know you can choose!

– We could point to value as one of the reasons why, globally, Germany is the fourth largest beer drinker in net volume (after China, the United States and Brazil) and the third on a per capita level (after the Czech Republic and Ireland).
– In this country there are more than 5000 types and varieties of beers, many of them associated with specific areas and regions, we find beers such as Pils, Lager, Weiss (white beer produced in the Bavarian area), Kölsh (softer beer despite its lower fermentation produced in the Cologne/Köln area), Helles (smoother beer with bottom fermentation similar to the malt-based fermentation process produced in the Dortmund area), Altbier (higher fermentation beer produced in the Lower Rhine near Düsseldorf), Starkbier (stronger, more nutritious Bock or Porter type beer, not originally from Germany, but produced since the 1970s), among others.

… By the way, if you want to order a beer and toast, you should say it like this: “Ein Bier, bitte… Prost!”.

 

7. Politics in Germany

20 curiosidades Alemania Reighstag

Surely in recent times the image you have of politics in Germany is associated with the former Chancellor (Bundeskanzlerin) Angela Merkel, who governed the country from 2005 to 2021, for 16 years and 4 consecutive terms, being the leader of the Party of Christian Democratic Center (CDU). In addition, during this time he stood out internationally for his leadership in the European Union (his “refoundation”), his asylum policy for refugees and his last successful management during the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020.

But let’s go back to German politics, this country is currently conceived as a parliamentary and federated republic, in that sense all the federated states elect parliamentarians for the Bundestag and the leader of the party with the most seats in parliament is
elected as Chancellor, who since 2021 is represented by the Social Democrat (SPD) Olaf Scholz, on the other hand, through direct elections, the figure of the President of the Republic is elected, also represented by the Social Democrat (SPD) Frank -Walter Steinmeier since 2017 (currently in his second term). Together, these two positions lead the country’s internal and international political representation.

8. Classical music: The “3B’s”

20 curiosidades Alemania musica clasica Bach

Since the 19th century, this phrase has been coined to attribute the greatest contribution and preponderance within classical music to Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms, despite the fact that we currently recognize the German origin of these three composers, this phrase was coined originally thinking of Bach, Beethoven and Héctor Berlioz, the latter a composer of French origin who was later replaced. If you visit Germany, the cities of Eisenach and Leipzig will surely make you discover the history (where he was born and died respectively) of Bach, the same with the city of Bonn (where he was born) Beethoven, as well as the famous Hamburg (associated with the life and death) with Brahms. If you are interested in these topics… you are in luck because several of the Viadrina Tours take place in the cities of Berlin, Potsdam, Bonn and Leipzig and you will learn much more from these musicians!

9. The cultural, artistic and scientific exponents.

20 curiosidades Alemania Karl Marx

Regarding this topic, let’s get into literature, this nation has given rise to well-known and famous writers that we remember to this day, for example, Friedrich von Schiller (writer of “Los Bandidos” or “Don Carlos, Infante de España “and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (writer of “Faust”), great poets, playwrights, and friends who, within the genre of romanticism, sought the exaltation of human thought. The legacy of these poets in German society has been so great that their works are a paradigmatic example not only of what German literature is but rather an influence on its entire culture, giving rise, for example, to the famous “Goethe-Institut” that spreads German culture and language abroad, as well as the “Deutsche chillerstiftung” (German Schiller Foundation) that promotes and looks for young promises in current German writing.

Also at this time and in a parallel way we cannot forget the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, creators of stories that come to this day inspired by the beautiful landscapes of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald). We dare to say that without being Disney fans you have heard about Cinderella, Hansel, Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel, or The Frog Prince.
Although these poets are considered fathers and architects of German cultural thought, we cannot forget other writers such as E.T.A. Hoffman, Bertolt Brecht, Heinrich Heine, Thomas Mann, and Herman Hesse, or also philosophical figures such as Hannah Arendt, Hegel, Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Kant, Schopenhauer, Rosa Luxemburg, among others.

Also on a scientific level, we cannot forget the contribution of the brothers Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt, who, in addition to founding the current university in Berlin that bears their name, were two naturalists who, with their travels, are recognized for the contribution they made to current science. . Likewise, we recognize Maria Cunitz, Max Plank or Elsa Neumann.

 

10. Traces of the National Socialist regime.

20 curiosidades Alemania Nacional Socialismo

We know the sad and dark history of the National Socialist Regime that came to power in 1933 in Germany, the year in which Hitler democratically won the elections and with a majority in parliament became Chancellor, from that moment a persecution began with different peoples, ethnic groups, populations and groups, and the totalitarian regime of that time implemented a propaganda policy that aimed at brutal persecution and repression in all aspects of society, including cultural and
politicians. In this sense, we recognize:

– The night of the Burning of Books in Nazi Germany in 1933, an occasion that serves to burn the works of authors considered dangerous, almost the entire list of personalities named in the previous point were victims of this action by the supporters of National Socialism.
– The night of broken glass or the Gloom of November 1938 (Kristallnacht or Novemberpogrome), the fateful occasion in which the places belonging to the Jewish community are victims of burning, destruction, and desecration, which has a dramatic impact on the Holocaust -Jewish- (or in Hebrew Shoá).

Today, Germany is a society that has been rebuilt with the unfortunate events carried out by the National Socialist regime as its center, hence the whole process of memory and reconciliation with the construction of memorials, museums,
documentation in forced labor (or concentration) camps or Nazi prisons, for example, or even memorials or monuments that commemorate these events such as the “Stumbling Stones” (Stolpersteine) in order to remember the persecuted lives and
losses; This reconstruction process goes further and refers to the way of being and educating, basically the new way of thinking of the Germans in relation to the acceptance of responsibilities of that time.

Despite the recognition and criticism that the model that the German state has implemented may provoke, today many other countries that have gone through dictatorial governments have taken this example to carry out processes and restorative justice with the
vulnerable communities.

 

(Second part here)

Our guide is:

Solange González Leiton

Curious by nature, amateur historian, trained as a Lawyer in Chile, I currently work as a Tourist Guide in Potsdam and Berlin.

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We are a team of true enthusiasts about Poland who want to share the unique beauty of this country and its great history. We have more than ten years of experience in receptive tourism and travel planning in Europe.

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