Why do many people hate the patriots

National pride: why Germans don't like themselves

People in the district are proud of their homeland. Every second citizen states that they feel strongly connected to the Ruhr area. In Cologne, too, people like to be a local patriot. At every home game in the Müngersdorfer Stadium, the stadium announcer welcomes all Cologne residents and their guests with the sentence: "Welcome to the most beautiful city in Germany".

But it is difficult to be German in this country. "In comparison with other countries, the national identity in Germany is the weakest. This has not only shown our study, in other studies, too, Germany is always at the bottom," says Ulrich Schmidt-Denter, Professor of Psychology at the University of Cologne.

He carefully examined being German and wanted to find out not only how we see ourselves, but also how our neighboring countries Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands think of us.

Ten years of research

A total of 6122 young people and their parents were interviewed by Schmidt-Denter and his team. And that took a lot of time. It took ten years to interview all the people, evaluate their answers and write an analysis. But now the results are available.

Germans are friendly to foreigners and very self-critical. In no other country do foreign-friendly statements meet with as much approval as in Germany. The country occupies an undisputed top position throughout Europe. At the same time, Germans don't particularly like each other. In the event of a rebirth, they would like to come to earth as Spaniards, British or American.

For example, an 18-year-old German said: "I think I would like to be British. I am fascinated by the national feeling that the British have, I often find it funny, but also really interesting."

While our neighbors confidently ticked "I think my own country is very likeable" in the questionnaires, as the Swiss, French and Poles did, many Germans agreed with the statement "Foreigners have many positive qualities that we Germans lack".

The 2006 World Cup had a positive effect

But this somewhat sad attitude of the Germans towards themselves was not constant in the ten years of the investigation. Because, as a lucky coincidence, the 2006 soccer World Cup fell within the research period and the global sports festival was ideally suited for the psychologists as an object of investigation into "national identity".

Schmidt-Denter and his team had already completed a large part of the surveys in Germany and neighboring countries before the World Cup and asked a comparable group the same questions a year after the football event.

The effect of the World Cup was clearly evident: "The major event brought Germans and foreigners together," says Schmidt-Denter. "On the one hand it has strengthened the national pride of the Germans and also increased their tolerance and friendliness towards foreigners. Many think that one thing excludes the other, but the opposite was the case here."