So, I have discovered I have relatives from the Frankfurt area of Germany through my maternal grandmother’s family tree (Erler whereas my paternal grandfather . Christian Hanz and his family came over in the 1840s and settled in New Braunfels area of Texas. Traveling around Europe I have become quite interested in the my heritage (1/2 German and the rest Celtic and English and probably a mix of a bunch of others).
Some interesting items about my German cousins:
Germans seem to like to be on time. 10 years ago we were surprised when we traveled through the Romantic Road on a bus that the driver left a couple of tourists in one of the towns since they were late. This seemed quite extreme since their luggage was still on board, and the next bus didn’t come until the next day! On the way to Germany this time, we were surprised as the Lufthansa plane began backing away from the gate even though people were standing up and trying to put away their luggage and find their seats!
Germans seem to be sophisticated yet blunt. Lufthansa economy class felt like first class on other planes. Free headphones. Free food. Free drinks. Even real silverware! Debbie was surprised by the real knife so she pointed it out to the German soldier sitting next to us. His response with a German accent, “Now, vee can kill zee pilot!” He was just joking, but we were a bit more scared than amused. Perhaps a bit too soon for that joke. 🙂
Germans seem to like to save money. At the hotel where we stayed along the Rhine River, the lights automatically turned off. It felt like the hallways were always dark. Asking one of the Germans if this was to save energy and protect the environment, he responded “No, it’s because we are cheap.”
Germans still feel a national shame over the Nazi regime. A friend of mine who is German mentioned that the Soccer World Cup in 2006 was the first time that Germans felt free to show national pride. Over the years there have been debates on whether it was ok to show German pride and how much was too much.
Hitler was a jerk. I was surprised to learn that Hitler used a national hysteria about the possibility of a Communist takeover to outlaw the Communist party just before the elections in 1933 (and just after the Reichstag Fire, an attempt to burn down Germany’s Parliament building blamed on the Communists but some think actually set by Nazis to frame the Communists). As a result, the Nazis got up to 44% of the Parliament seats which obviously means the majority of Germans had not voted for the Nazis. The hysteria created by the fear of Communist revolution led to the Enabling Act which gave Hitler power to make decrees without the approval of the Parliament. He was free to be a dictator, and the rest, unfortunately is history. I was also surprised to discover how quickly the Nazi leaders abandoned Hitler and their party near the end of the war.
Germans are incredibly efficient and productive and make the best generals according to Race and Culture which proposes that all cultures have “human capital,” positive ways to contribute to our world.
Germany has 82.5 million people with only 2,000 evangelical churches. That is one church for every 43,000 people. In contrast, the U.S. has one church for every 1,000 people. This statistic I heard from a German pastor doesn’t take into account how many of those churches are vibrant and healthy (same with the churches in the U.S. for that matter).