July 16, 2006


Germans are known in the world as industrious, thorough and punctual. But during my four months stay I had seen another side of German work force. There are some lazy people around here and the number is increasing day-by-day. This report# analyzes the root of this change. The results are (along with my explanations):

* The German workers are constantly complaining about stress and many remain in bad mood always.

* Earlier men used to go to football clubs, now they sit in front of DVD players.

* It was a custom to help the elderly neighbour by buying grocery for them, now Germans don't like to shop even for themselves, they order online instead.

* In old times they used to care for fellow citizens in need. Today they think that only the church or the state is responsible for the needy.

* A negative kind of social envy is forming in many German's minds. In the TV talk shows the social security holders proudly present the advantages of doing nothing. They feel that many working persons are almost naive to engage themselves in the job. These are influencing the workers a lot.

Believe me the social security holders here get enough money to live a decent life. I met a 52 year old person who lives in the street, proudly quoting that he gets more than Euro 1200 a month from social security and his dead wife's pension. A clerk earns much less than that.

Every citizen has a right to Sozialhilfe (social welfare) in this country. The amount of Sozialhilfe for a family of four is rumored to be a little less than 2000 DM per month, excluding rent. The rent for a reasonable (and often subsidized) apartment is paid by the government on top of this. No matter whether you are employed or not, you always have the right to a (limited) income. If you work for less, you will get the rest from the local Sozialamt, the social welfare administration, run by the city government.

* And out of those in job, some motivated ones work harder and compensated by meager overtime, while many choose to make it cozy at the desk, sit themselves the recession out or wait for the pension. Is the efficient one the stupid one?

* Germany is only behind Austria as leisure world champion. Where Japanese get annually 16 holidays days and the Americans get 25, Germans enjoy over 42 holidays. The average work time of the Germans are also sinking rapidly.

* From the around 4.5 million jobless people, about 2.5 million cannot be given a job according to their talent because they are simply unwilling. Many German firms cannot find suitable recruitments from this amount of job-less people.

* Some people find it their altruistic obligation to renounce the low quality jobs and remain as a 'lucky unemployed persons'. No wonder why in this first world country so much unemployment persists.

The signs of frustration are evident in many German workers. Right here in Berlin a postal worker who was caught with more than several thousand undelivered letters in his basement has admitted he was overwhelmed by the job but insisted he planned to deliver them soon.

So is their an anomaly in the job distribution or Germans are simply becoming lazy?

Update: My friend Anna puts her perspective:
The statement that Germans would be unwilling to help their fellow human beings - this is simply plain wrong and you can find plenty of examples that proove the falseness of this statement if you watch out for them a bit. For example, look at the millions of Euro the Germans donated for the Tsunami victims in 2004/2005. The world cup that everyone was so enthusiastic about would not have worked out without the countless German volunteers who greeted visitors, looked after them in the international world cup camps etc.

I am a trainer for future German volunteers going to developing countries and the wish to help and get in touch with others is strongly existing, regardless of xenophobic trends that shamingly do exist especially among lower educated people.
I could give you plenty of examples that proove the other statements wrong as well but that would lead too far now. All in all: The tenor of this post - or the article it is based on - that Germans are the personification of lazyness who just wait for their chance to live on welfare - is, in my view, simply plain wrong.
Anna is right in one context that it is wrong to generalize the whole country on the basis of some people's behavior. The article was published in the popular newspaper 'Die Welt'. I hope more and more Germans like Anna will prove this report wrong in the future.

# Hint: Non German readers can use Babelfish to translate the above report.


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