45 Interesting Facts About Germany That You Should Know

Last updated on April 6th, 2020

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in central-western Europe and has 16 states. It has an area of 357,022 square km. Berlin is the country’s capital state. German is its official and national language. The Euro is the official currency of Germany. It has nine bordering countries that are: the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, and Luxembourg.

It is also the most populous member state in the European Union. And after the U.S., it is also the second most popular migration destination in the world. Germany is a developed country and provides tuition-free university education. With these 45 interesting facts about Germany, let’s explore more about this world’s third-largest exporter and importer of goods.

Historical facts about Germany’s capital — Berlin

1. Modern Berlin is only 26 years old! The city has been around since at least 1237 when it is believed to have been founded. But modern Berlin was really born with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

2. One of the slogans against the communist rule in divided Berlin before the Berlin wall fell was “Turn the State Into Cucumber Salad.”

3. Just behind the Berlin wall on the erstwhile East German side was a ‘Death Strip’ of sand, vicious dogs, floodlights, tripwire machines and soldiers to stop people trying to escape. 98 brave or desperate people lost their lives to the ‘Death Trap’ between 1961 and the fall of the wall in 1989.

4. Over six hundred years ago, the site of the present Berlin Town Hall in Mitte was where another town hall stood in 1390, when Berlin was a merchant city with nearly 8500 residents and 1100 buildings. Today, Berlin is home to more than 3.5 million people!

5. JFK once said “Ich bin Berliner” (trying to mean I am a Berliner) during an important Cold War era speech. If you’ve ever eaten a Berliner (a German pastry) then you’ll understand the linguistic quirk which created the urban legend that Kennedy had called himself a Jelly Donut!

6. The eerie rows of concrete blocks at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe are painted with a graffiti-resistant coating by the same company whose subsidiary produced deadly Zyklon B gas for concentration camps!

7. The Berlin Wall was officially called the Anti-Fascist Protection Wall, ironically implying that it was built to protect East Germans from West Germany which still had not got rid of all elements of Nazism.

The remains of the Berlin wall
The remains of the Berlin wall. Image credit – Heather Cowper

8. During the Cold War, the Russians closed supply lines between East and West Germany to drive out the U.S., Britain, and France. But the US got back at them with the famous Berlin Airlift, bringing in 2.3 million tons of food and supplies into West Germany for over a year.

9. In 1933 thousands of books by Albert Einstein, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Erich Maria Remarque, and others were burned at Bebelplatz, to protest against “un-German spirit”. Ironically, the fascists were doing the burning.

10. The XI Summer Olympics take place in 1936, where all anti-Jewish slogans are taken down. Two years later will be “Night of the Broken Glass”, when nine synagogues were burned, 1200 Jews were arrested and taken to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen.

Flag of Germany

Flag of Germany
The National flag of Germany. Image source – CIA

Facts for Kids

11. Germany is the land of the Grimm fairytales. If you go to the town of Hamelin, you will find painted rats on the pavements guiding you around the city!

12. When in Berlin, keep an eye out for the colorful Buddy Bears around the city to take selfies with. There is even a bear that does gymnastics at the Europa Center!

13. Frankfurt is your one-stop shop for toys. Here you will find everything from handmade dolls (in Das Spielzimmer) to wooden toys (in Hannah Kley).

14. Looking for teddy bears wearing leather pants? Munich has them in plenty.

15. Silent Night is really a German song. It was composed in 1818 in Austria.

Germany on the map

16. Kris Kringle comes from the German word Christkindl, which means Christ Child. It is this Christ child who brings gifts to Germany on Christmas, and not Santa Claus!

17. The Christmas Pickle is a legend, but some families still hang the pickle on the tree and the first child to find it receiving a present.

18. In Rothenburg, you can enjoy Christmas all the year round, at the Christmas Market of Reiterlesmarkt.

19. Germany is slowly closing all its nuclear power plants. There should be none by 2022!

20. Check out Southern Bavaria on Google Map in winter. It looks like a surface of the moon!

Culture facts

21. Germans have the strangest queens – the Apple Queen, Saxon Fish Queen, Beer Queen and more.

22. Germans like square pillows instead of rectangles. And the pillows are huge, so beware if you bring your own pillowcases from home!

23. Germans don’t have house numbers. The postman delivers mail by the last name, even in apartment blocks.

24. When you go to eat at a restaurant in Germany, don’t expect the automatic glass of water. You have to buy your bottled water here. In fact, beer used to be cheaper than water in Germany!

25. The cost of dying in Germany is high – strict laws regarding funerals mean that there is less competition in the funeral industry and costs are really high!

26. You won’t find many locals asking to take leftovers home from restaurants.

27. Pork may soon go out of public school menus, to please kosher religions.

28. Some stretches of the Autobahn has no speed limit at all.

Autobahn , Germany
A spectacular view of the skies over Autobahn, Germany. Image credit – foerster_christoph

29. Germans prefer cash to credit cards when shopping, so always keep an eye out for a Geldautomator ATM when you’re at a large shopping center.

30. There is a closing law for shops in Germany! Don’t expect to find shops open after 8 pm on Sundays. For groceries on Sundays, you’ll have to go to a train station store.

Weird facts about Germany

31. Germans enjoy egg-fighting in Easter. Take a hardboiled egg and smash it on your opponent’s egg and see whose cracks first. Search for Eiercatchen rules, to see how it’s played!

32. Join the crazy Schwalbe race with your moped or scooter. This is an over fifty-year-old traditional race that hasn’t lost its spirit to macho bike races.

33. Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany. It’s obvious why, but it seems a silly thing to do even if you are a neo-Nazi!

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