07 Aug German image a public relations triumph to admire
Recently a BBC poll showed the Germans to be the most admired nation on the planet.
Last night’s Make Me a German on BBC2 will only have cemented that notion amongst us, one of its greatest foes.
It was an hour long programme where a husband and wife team relocated to Nuremberg and based on what a marketing survey had found out, lived their lives like typical Germans.
What transpired was a fascinating yet limited insight into the culture and customs, which has transformed a country on its knees less than 70 years ago into the economy which is the powerhouse of Europe.
It is easy to condemn programmes like this as being all about stereotypes and not even scratching the surface, but in the absence of actually living there and making our judgements based on experience this is in all likelihood as close to German life as most of us will ever get.
The result was an hour’s entertainment that ended up with Germany’s already envied image even more enhanced- another PR coup for the country we love to hate.
Journalists Justin and Bee Rowlatt relocated to Nuremberg for the show, with him working in a pencil factory and she a stay at home mum looking after her two young kids.
The limited snapshot showed a much more united country with community an integral part of society, but very much a man’s world, where only a tiny minority of women make it to the top of the boardroom table.
At work, despite them doing less hours than us, they produce more – purely because they work rather than talk about Coronation Street or waste time on Facebook.
Meanwhile mothers focus on raising their children whilst early schooling encourages interaction rather than competition.
Now you could argue till you’re blue in the face about the merits or otherwise of Germanic life, but what came out strongly was the admirable stereotype was reinforced.
They are frighteningly efficient people, their country is productive, cleaner than ours and the demarcation lines between work and play is clearer.
However, it did strike me that in this country we do have more chance to dream bigger, rather than be a small cog in the big wheel. Hence the reason for us being such innovators and entrepreneurs.
The German mentality is risk averse, about knowing your place. In this mentality the highs won’t be as high or the lows as low, but for the majority it’s a model to be admired and the reason why they’ve managed to bail out the EU and integrate East Germany following unification.
We can learn a lot from the Germans, but don’t be fooled into thinking they have it perfect. Remember they have both Audi and Aldi.