Does Germany Have an Asshole Problem?

One thing I kind of miss about American universities is the fact that professors say "fuck," "shit," and "asshole" all the time, and nobody cares. Sometimes they even put naughty words in the titles of the books they write, as with Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit, published by the Princeton University Press.

In this video, Stanford management professor Robert Sutton explains his new book, The No-Asshole Rule, which details the harm assholes do to corporate work environments. His book has been translated into German, with the title Der Arschloch-Faktor. In fact, the book came out in German translation before it was even published in its original language.

Does this mean that some editor in a German publishing house looked over new lists of English books and said: "Mein Gott! This book must be translated into German immediately! Germany is full of assholes!" I don’t see Germany as particularly asshole-rich, in fact, most Germans have far better manners than I do. I have heard, however, that German publishing houses are full of assholes…

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40 thoughts on “Does Germany Have an Asshole Problem?

  1. I think all nations have an asshole problem. Certainly the US does. The UK is the worst per-capita for assholes that I’ve ever seen – with the possible exception of Stuttgart (Swabia).

    Yes, Stuttgart is in Germany, but extended visits to Bavaria, Koln, and other areas of Germany revealed (if anything) rather fewer jerks than the common human norm. So my theory is that German jerks move to Swabia. It might be the cuisine (sic) as well. It’s HARD to be nice on a diet of deep-fried schweinenschintzel and Mautauschen (A Swabian form of ravioli which should be classified as an emetic, not pasta)!

  2. Dear poster,

    some guests might be considered the shit passing Suebian assholes. Presumably they are of United Shit Assembly offspring.
    By the ‘cuisine’ way: it is Schweineschnitzel and Maultaschen, even for dyslexics.

    Go on enjoying your müll.

  3. Are you from Stuttgart, ‘ruminator’? You are going to have to try harder than that! “United Shit Assembly? Pretty lame.

    Sorry. I’ve been insulted by experts – and expert that isn’t. Paul Simon wrote the story of my life:

    “Its the same old story
    Everywhere I go,
    I get slandered,
    Libeled,
    I hear words I never heard
    In the bible
    And I’m one step ahead of the shoe shine
    Two steps away from the county line
    Just trying to keep my customers satisfied,
    Satisfied.”

  4. “I don’t see Germany as particularly asshole-rich, in fact, most Germans have far better manners than I do.”

    The biggest assholes have good manners.

    Here are two more books with “asshole” in the title. The first is about how to deal with an awful boss:
    http://www.amazon.de/Mein-Chef-Arschloch-Ihrer-%C3%9Cberlebenstraining/dp/3442166497/sr=8-7/qid=1167474384/ref=pd_ka_7/303-7618145-0993000?ie=UTF8&s=books

    And this is the famous comic book and movie:
    http://www.amazon.de/Kleines-Arschloch-Film-Walter-Moers/dp/B000GI3L4S/sr=8-2/qid=1167474384/ref=pd_ka_2/303-7618145-0993000?ie=UTF8&s=dvd

    Interestingly enough, searching for “Arschloch” turns up one of Tom Friedman’s books as well:
    http://www.amazon.de/s/303-7618145-0993000?ie=UTF8&tag=firefox-de-21&index=blended&link%5Fcode=qs&field-keywords=arschloch&sourceid=Mozilla-search

  5. Living in Baden I just have to aggree to Don’s remark about Stuttgart and Swabia. Spot on, keep up the good work !! ;-))

  6. It’s probably just a bad personal experience. I’ve lived in Italy for an extended time, lived in Brussels a short time, lived in Nederlands for a couple months, visited France and Germany extensively, and enjoyed it all.

    So I was expecting to enjoy my time in Stuttgart, which I had heard good things about. I’m afraid I did not. I worked at a campus of a very large European telecomunications company. The German members of the staff were very rigid and formal – and on fairly frequent occasions quite unpleasant to me.

    There were some hard feelings between this very large company and my own much smaller Canadian firm but I cannot think of another place I have ever visited where these hard feelings would have been visited upon a single employee there to carry out the work. As they were in this case.

    Was it specific or general? I have no idea. I did have pleasant personal relations with people on the worksite and was in the end able to gather enough information to do the job correctly. About 60% of the work team were Irish or Eastern European, with one Turk I think. Trouble is I can’t remember a single Sueb on that team who was pleasant and cooperative. Entire meetings were conducted in German with me sitting there – I don’t speak or understand any but the most elementary German. A palpable snub.

    Why?

  7. ”Why?”
    Well, try plain rudeness, backwaters stubborness etc.
    I guess you can have this ”asshole experience” everywhere. It’s a shame. Germans encounter it usually working in Anglo Saxon countries. ( WW II forever ! ). Nevertheless. I found your remarks about Swabia just suitable. We call them ”Späzlefresser”. Lol.

  8. Is Stuttgart a ‘backwater’? I would not have expected it. Stuttgart looks like a cosmopolitan place to a visitor. Perhaps lacking the cultural scene of a Berlin or whatever it is that Munchen has, but sophisticated enough I would have thought. Comparable to a place like Frankfurt or Koln and not far from France or Switzerland.

    Is this a swabian thing, or was I just unfortunate?

  9. ” Stuttgart backwater”
    Actually not. Let’s be fair, they are usually considered to be pragmatic, industrious, mercantile people. Ever heard: “Schaffe ,schaffe Häusle baue und net nach de Mädle schaue”?? ;-). Sometimes people fear for their jobs when freelancers come in, act stupidly or even rude and are not very cooperative. But then, a professional company policy should take care of such things. The company is loosing money in a situation like this!!. Happened to me sometimes as well. It’s frustrating and it IS a shame !!

  10. I guess it’s because we like provoking book titles and really really cultivate a negative view about our selves.
    And we are so self-righteous to think yea, i can idedentify with that book title, i clearely remember the last asshole i had arround me. 🙂

    I think the difference is acknowledgeing the problems in our society and beeing really looking forward to be upset about it or just keeping my mouth shut.

    Americans seem to have this moral barriar that prevents them from asking to unconvinient questions. Talk with a american about anything unconvinient like religion or moral and he rather likes to evade the discussion because it is not atequate. You can see that verry often.

    Germans have more like a affection for inconvinience. We stalk our neighbours and are constantly looking for negative aspekts in our society.

    It all sounds verry negative, but if you live it it’s just the way it is. 🙂

    PS: Of course this text is written under the same cicumstances. Looking for negative aspects in german society, allways in search of things that we can feel bad about. And with that special tendency to polarize. 🙂

  11. “Among Friends?
    About the point of not being ‘among friends’ in Germany, I have a few comments. First, most Europeans are pretty civilized about these things. Go with the flow, don’t bring politics up, fib (sic!) a bit if you have to. It won’t be a problem in Germany or anywhere else. Avoid student bars if you don’t want to argue. Little or no physical danger, I think, German security is better than in the US.”

    Don Stadler

  12. Rick Steves and ‘Inside Higher Education’? What an impressive effort! Perhaps slightly sinister as well – from an actor hiding behind the name of ‘ruminator’.

    I’m certain Mr. ‘ruminator’ is trying to make a point here, but what it is is not obvious without considerable thought – and I can’t be bothered.

    So unless the ‘point’ is as shallow as indulging in a bit of taunting – as it may seem, perhaps the stalker would care to further elucidate. Possibly under his, her’s, or it’s own name?

  13. Germans are the scourge of Europe. Constantly embarrassing themselves whilst traveling abroad, they must be dealt with sharply and as unpleasantly as possible. Does Germany have an asshole problem? No. The WORLD has an asshole problem and it is Germany. My prayers are that all solutions are explored… including nuclear.

    1. So you want over 80 million innocents to be discriminated against, if not killed? What the heck, dude?

  14. Germans specialize in being jerks. It’s their hallmark of being ‘German’.

    If you are not brutally honest about something faulty when you meet someone you are not genuinely ‘German’. Ok, so that makes them useful for quality control.

    Notice I said, ‘useful’. That’s another one of their favorite concepts.

    So I think the world is a much better place if we all look at how ‘useful’ Germans can be, and exactly what they are useful for. No more, and no less. Win-win. Then we benefit from their concept of ‘usefulness’ and we cannot offend them, since this is the mainstay of their cultural mental lexicon.

    Sometimes they can be amusing and fun after a few beers, or after they see a car they really like. Other than that, they are a pain in the back of the surfboard, I mean ‘surf-bored’. They tend to pontificate about nothing. At least the English philosophize. The last Germans to do so were living in the 19th century. And they were wonderful.

    Sign me the Hamburg wife in West Los Angeles, native Californian.

  15. I have lived in Germany for two years now. Previously I lived in S.Korea for 4 years. I cannot compare the two. S.Korea is such a better place, granted it is a 3rd world country. Don’t get me wrong, I love the German country and beer. The people need to go! I have never seen so many assholes in my life and I’m American!! I just got back from a deployment to Iraq and that was a vacation compared to this place! These people need a serious attitude adjustment. The biggest problems I see is they have to be in everyones business all the time. On the road I have not seen any people from any country drive so horribly. Everyday I am cutoff, getting tailgated, or almost hit. These people don’t have easy access to driving like Americans do. They pay thousands of dollars for a license. So a majority of them don’t drive until later in their life. I recommend to vacation here, but I would not suggest living. It will stress you out and they are very greedy and will take all your money. Everything cost 2-3 times more than the USofA!

    1. “S.Korea is such a better place, granted it is a 3rd world country.”
      – Newsflash: South Korea is NOT third-world, unless you’re talking about North Korea.

      “Don’t get me wrong, I love the German country and beer. The people need to go!”
      – May it occur to you that those same people made the beer you love? And that they pay the taxes that make the country tick? If this isn’t ingratitude, then I dunno what to say.

      “I recommend to vacation here, but I would not suggest living. It will stress you out and they are very greedy and will take all your money. Everything cost 2-3 times more than the USofA!”
      – How does a higher cost of living indicate greed?

  16. I can not tell you how comforting it is reading negative comments about Stuttgart from American and Australian foreigners like myself.
    I thought i was the only one…
    Three years i lived in that awful shithole which i would personally like to rename ‘Shittgart.’ I was studying at the Stuttgart Hochschule fur musik, with an asshole teacher, with only the basic of Communication under my belt. I thought that as i learned more German, my impression of the German people would improve.
    It didn’t.
    It was only out of pride and fear of thinking i would feel like a failure that i did not return back to Australia.
    But when i did return back three years later, life suddenly grew angel wings and took off. Stuttgart was a weight off my shoulders. The people are assholes. Unimaginative, uncaring, unforgivingly always out for number 1, and especially greedy.

    The strange thing is, i am not such a negative person as i am making myself out to be now…its just the effect Germany, especially Stuttgart has on me. I feel like that place forced me to become an asshole myself! Fight fire with fire, that sort of thing.

    And by the way, not so important, but extremely irritating: the Suebian bus drivers – has anybody met such thing as a nice Suebian bus driver in a good mood??

    Didn’t think so.

    Maybe none of you know what i am talking about i am sure….my words are so jumbled, like a a negative rant.
    But in case you think you are alone in disliking that place because of its people – i completely relate!! You are not alone!!

    1. Many other people have had no problems in Stuttgart. Maybe you wouldn’t have such a problem if you assimilated to the culture.

  17. There are a lot of nice and good Germans. BUT, there is a definite, strong undercurrent of complete fucks.

    These individuals are the ones who give the whole country a bad name.

    They think it is their responsibility to manage what’s going on around them. To that end, they stare you up and down in an apparent effort to figure you out and see if you are in compliance with ordnung. If you are not, they tell you. They are obsessed with winning everything. They are a very image-conscious society. The worst thing you can do to one of these shittards is to laugh at them when they are trying to look good – e.g. exiting a fancy sports car wearing the “right” clothes, with the “right” haircut. They constantly tailgate and cut people off, like someone else mentioned.

    But, as I said, there are plenty of good Germans. Anyone who comes across one ought to encourage them. We need more decent Germans.

  18. Been living in Germany for over 6 months now, and boy I have never met so many fuckin’ assholes in my life!
    These assholes definitely are arrogant bastards and think they’re God!!! Now, I’m proud to say I am an American….and yes, I come from a privileged country…and yes, I do not have to put up with these shitholes!!!!

    1. Last time I checked, San Francisco is a very liberal (read: leftist) city, which is part of a very liberal state (California voted Democrat four times in a row). Frankly, I’m not surprised.
      That aside, ever thought that maybe the Germans don’t want to be American? Remember, when in Rome, do as Romans do.

  19. I’m living in Heidelberg right now and so far people over here aren’t too bad. However I lived in Dresden last year and its a different story. For one, the concept of keeping your goddamn nose out of other people’s business is completely unknown to people in Dresden. Every week I had to put up with at least one nosy asshole who decided to bother me just for the hell of it. I could also swear the teenagers there are evil. I almost got into a fight with some little asswipe who to decided to knock my lunch out of my hand for no reason. I also tried getting into Club Blue but the bouncers and the owner would total fucking assholes to me and my buddy, as soon as the bouncers led us up the stairs to leave, we heard talking shit about us underneath their breath. Make a long story short, me and my friends German was only basic at the time so we went there to figure out when it opened. There were some people hanging out around the entrance who looked everyday people (but they actually worked there. They had no name tags, shirts, nothing). One guy spoke to us ridiculously fast and we couldn’t make out a word he said. He eventually called the bouncers after us, even after we tried communicating with him. I don’t hate Dresden and would like to return for a couple of days, but I’d be lying if I said the city isn’t clogged with assholes.

  20. I’ve been living here for 20 years and have come to the conclusion….. Germans are assholes. Germany is a beautiful country, the only problem….. is the Germans. Eastern Germany is the worst of the crop. Stasi has been bred into the people, maybe after 5 or 6 generations it will get better, until then, best to stay away.

    1. So, “Enlightened one”, did it ever cross your mind that the people have to pay taxes to keep the country beautiful? They provided you the opportunity to stay in their country, and this is how you thank them?
      If you stayed there for 20 years, how much effort did you make in assimilating to the culture? If the Germans were so bad, then why would Andrew move to Germany in the first place?
      Seriously, grow up.

  21. I study in Karlsruhe and have been in this weird country for 3 and half years.Today I almost got into a fight with an asshole in Lidl. I was picking up cherries and suddenly he came over shouted at me in German. Asked me “have u actually hand picked those scheisse kirschen?(rough translation)” I said “is it your f.ing business?” in English. Cuz that motherf.ing prick really scared me by coming outta nowhere f.ing shouting at me in a really aggressive way. And he got really mad looking into my eyes and said “F-I-C-K dich” in slow motion.Then I started to insult him by saying “you f.ing creep,piece of sh@t…” and he walked away with his einkaufwagen.Moments later i met him again,fu@ker walked towards me tried to hit me with his shopping cart and i kicked it away…Then trash talk for like 30 seconds… I was furious. A kind black woman seprated us. I followed the asshole outta Lidl and tried to start some sh@t.He looked back at me wanna say something,i could tell he was kinda scared,wondering why this Asian guy still didnt give up.Cuz they all think Asian guys cant be that ballsy so they like picking on us.If i was a turk or even a black guy this kinda thing wouldnt happen at the first place. I came over to his ugly face and shouted at him”you f.ing piece shit,f.ing asshole” and gave the fuc@er a giant middle finger in his face for like 2 sec and turned over and walked away.Like in that “cool guys dont look at explosion” video with Will Ferrel and Andy Samberg.That little bitch totally chickened out and disapeared.This is the first time i confront with the local assholes in public.Cuz ive been into so many similar situations getting barked at by those creepy absurd germans here and that sh@t always comes when you r not mentally prepared so i always got shocked and petrified.This time i didnt let them get me.Living in Germany is like in ‘Nam or Iraq,f.ing cons and IEDs happen a lot.My town is probably kinda like Basra,the safer place,east and north gotta be like Baghdad or some sh@t.Germany is a country full of diffrent kinds of creeps and sad people.You can always tell the difference once u got back from France or Italy or even Sweden after a trip,u can feel the depressing and dark engergy.This place is gonna eventually
    depress the shit outta every NORMAL human being who doesnt like being creepy or annoying.Im outta here once my study here is done.And im suffering the biggest mistake ive made in my whole life by coming to this creepy country while those stupid and narrow minded assholes worrying about the auslander like me r gonna take their f.ing jobs away… I would pay 1 million euro to travel back time slapping myself in the face warning myself not to come here if theres a time machine and if had the money.When im 70 i would tell my grandkids how much it sucked in this unimaginable country when i was young and even they would have nightmares i would still tell them.Cuz this is a country where lotta people belong to mental institutions but actually running out there depressing and annoying other people.Bunch of aggressive creepy hypocrites….
    And to be fair,i do have a really good German friend and i agree with the fact that not all of them r like this.But even like 30 percent of them r assholes could really give u a hard time here.The proportion of those people gotta be the highest in western europe.Anyway,gotta prepare for the exam tomorrow morning.Happy to see you guys bashing them,a huge comfort and relief for me… Lucky to know im not alone.

    1. Frankly, I’m not surprised given the leftist, socialist, politically-correct indoctrination that goes on in universities, even back in 2006.
      Not to mention, to feel comfort and relief in insulting a whole nation of people is rather mean-spirited. Do you really want to sink so low?

  22. i have been living here for 10 years now, i knew of the bad reputation the germans had (and even had the odd bad experience with germans before), but i brushed it off to “cultural differences and language problems”.
    i speak german fluently since about 8-9 years now and can just tell you that it has nothing to do with language problems.
    it is a profound problem, that the germans are, in general, rude, arrogant and of course many take a step further and are truly assholes.
    the thing is, the germans themselves does not see this as a problem;
    they still have the mind set that the loudest, most arrogant is the alphamale and hence expect the manager to have these “qualities”.
    One thing that I find hilarious is in the german version of the “The Office”;
    in the UK version at some point the boss from the other branch is coming in, being professional, efficient etc, and to the viewer it is apparent that Brent is lacking all these good skills. I.e. the other manager is sort of the “ideal” manager.
    In the German version, this “other” manager is literally screaming, being arrogant, cutting of sentences of other people speaking etc.
    That is, the manager that the viewer should regard as “ideal” manager.
    To me, suddenly the Brent (in german Stromberg) guy seems like a decent manager, whereas the germans think the other manager is bevahing exactly the way a manager should.

    German economy is going downwards, and will continue going downards and I think this is one of the key reasons why; they simple expect any manager to be a true asshole, if he is not an asshole he cant be a good manager.
    and as you know, an asshole as a manager is truly the worst kind of thing that can happen to a company.

    I have in my whole life never encountered so many assholes, people that trying to fcuk you over in any way they can, in some cases simply because “they can”, rather than doing it for some personal winning of their own.
    If i had knew this beforehand i would never moved here.
    I will move away the next years and will never come back, I will also stay clear of doing any business with germans in the future, and if I get to work with german collegaues I will shortly keep them on arms length away.

    Sure, i also had the odd good experience with germans, but lets face it; so far i think germany has the highest assholes per capita in the world.

    1. “I will also stay clear of doing any business with germans in the future, and if I get to work with german collegaues I will shortly keep them on arms length away.”
      – It’s rather pathetic that you’d suddenly develop a hatred a whole nationality to the point that you would rather work with a different nationality. My deepest condolences.

  23. I´m German and I never realized everybody thought we were such big assholes…
    I mean, some are, but that´s the matter almost everywhere.

  24. You can`t say about any country mot poeple there are assholes, because you don`t know the most poeple in any country, maby you know a few dozenz or even hundreds of the poeple in a country but you can only talk about a small group of poeple, that is a fact.
    so I have a few points about germany, I would like to talk about.

    – @donny

    I think you ment “stromberg” as you mentioned the
    “german version of the office”.
    This Tv-series is a comedy-series, so it isn`t like the viewers should regard him as thte perfekt maneger,they should regarde him a the wort maneger ever and season for season he has to bear the konsequenzes of his behaving.

    – @donny (again)

    The german economy isn`t going downwards, and at the the the timeit was falling- a bunch of poeple from the U.S. caused the
    economy-crisis (of course some opoeple in germany did also wrong thinks)Opel almost suffered,right but that thats because GM bought opel years bevor the economy-crisis and some poeple from gm were to greedy to let opel money to build the great cars, they usually did.

    – @ donny (again)

    You say germany has the highest assholes per capita in the world.
    Oh, come on, where have you been jet?
    Of course the poeple are nice, if you are on vacation, in a country which lives from tourist, but in how many countries has you alreay lived as a stranger?
    I don´t want to say anythig rough about any country here, but let m put it this way…
    every county has citys and places you shouldn`t go to.

    – @LG106

    Im sad you almost only met poeple of the kind you describe in your post.
    And I admit there are some germans like that but you know there are always a few poeple in every country who doeen`t make it in school, and live and a even smaller amount of them becomes to poeple like you describe.
    But germany isn`t full of these poeple it`s the matter where you go and karlsruhe has some places like every town has, which aren`t that great, but the time I lived there i knew many nice poeple.
    You also write about the poeple who hate the “Ausländer” but the racists are only a small amount of poeple, look at the AntiFa (Anti-Faschisten = Anti-racists) they have 6x the amount of poeple, the Dvu & Npd (two german Neo-Nazi-Parties) has together.
    In the former DDR there are still some poeple depressed because there study from the DDR wasn`t acceptet in the BRD or because company they had worked in in the DDR had been fallen appart after the fall of the wall and the after the socialism in eastern germany- see the germany of today i only 30 years old,very young for a country, many things changed, and some of the older generations didn`t stood all these changes that well, and so, some of them didn`t maneged there live after the DDR that well…
    My parents both lived in the ddr when they were young, I live in north germany which i for my opinion one of the best parts of germany, but I also lived in berlin ( I was born there) I love berlin, but I can tell there is a different amount of assholes in berlin-Neuköln and in berlin-prenzlauerberg.

    for contakt: http://www.youtube.com/user/suppchoc

    1. Thank you for your sane and sober comment. What the commentators also need to realize is that no two people are alike, and the mentality of one state is different from that of another. It is unwise to paint millions of people under the same brush. It is also foolish to wish death upon those same people.

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