The first article discusses the influence of Martin Luther on German culture today, 500 years after his 95 Theses were first pinned to the door of a church in Wittenburg. Despite the fact that Germany is only 30% Protestant in the current day, much of what is perceived as “German culture” is really Protestant culture. This reality is reflected in several ways. The German emphasis on minimalism and asceticism can be traced back to Luther’s teachings, as well as the German love for orchestral music and literature. Lutheran ideals even extend to the German emphasis on austerity, which has been especially present in a time of multiple economic crises across the EU. However, the article ends by discussing the growing diversity of thought in Germany- while Martin Luther’s ideas have had a lasting impact on German society, there is a growing population of Germans who hold wildly unique and different world views and ways of life. I found the article very interesting. Germany is certainly not a religious country, but it’s fascinating how its religious past has affected the culture so heavily.
The next article is about the most popular German tabloid, Bild Zeitung. Despite twisting any minor news into an Earth-shattering story, the magazine is immensely popular in Germany. The magazine also relies on scandalous and semi-nude pictures of women to attract readers, and a scantily-clad model often adorns the front page. However, the Bild tends to lean in a conservative political direction, often attacking liberal politicians and policies. I’m actually a bit surprised by the popularity of Bild Zeitung in Germany. I would have thought that a country so focused on seriousness and practicality would not care much for the exaggerations and smuttiness of the tabloid. The combination of sex and conservative news doesn’t seem to mesh for me either. But Bild seems to have pulled it off.
The third article discusses German closed-door etiquette. Unlike the US, where someone available to talk will leave their door open, in Germany most offices have their doors closed at all times. As a result, one must assert themselves when meeting someone in their office- the article recommends a firm knock followed by entering the room. I’m not sure how much I believe the article on this topic, as Spiegel has exaggerated in the past. However, I’ll keep their recommendations in mind the next time I’m in Germany.
The final article is on the German obsession with sorting their trash into an array of different categories. Public trashcans across Germany, from apartments to the U-Bahn, require user to sort their trash into many different categories, from different colors of glass to packaging to organic waste. This can be confusing the non-Germans, who are used to only a few options for recycling, compost and trash. I actually think the system in Germany is great. The US could certainly do a better job of being environmentally friendly, and if the public could be as educated as Germans are on different types of waste, this issue could be improved.