Your visit to Germany 1957/Tipps für Deutschlandbesuch 1957

Social customs

When you go to Germany you will probably want to adapt yourself, in reason, to German customs and conventions. You will find, for instance, that most German men wear hats which they doff with a sweep whenever they meet anyone they know, both male and female. … Even if you wear a hat, however, there is no need to become flamboyant in acknowledging or giving salutes …

Ladies should not smoke in the street, although they can do so in restaurants and, without offence, in smoking compartments on trains. There are no special restrictions on women’s dress, such as the wearing of slacks.

As the Germans do not show the same self-discipline which Britons possess, you will find that there is no queueing, say for buses, and it is often a case of the most pushing persons being first. Nor do the Germans have our particular sense of humour – theirs is rather a “heavy” brand – so, however well a German may speak English, he will seldom be able to understand (or appreciate) what I might term “sly digs.” It is best to be careful in this respect.

You should learn how to schunkeln, which is a swaying of the body to keep time with music or singing, usually linking arms with those next to you – even if you do not know them. This sociable action occurs quite frequently in places where people are in a merry mood, so there is no reason why you should be the odd person out.

Gordon Cooper, Your Holiday in Germany, 2nd ed. 1957

(originally recommended, I think, by Count Des)

8 thoughts on “Your visit to Germany 1957/Tipps für Deutschlandbesuch 1957

  1. Great fun. I do remember the hat thing. When I was small and my father carried me on his shoulders I suggested I could lift his hat for him when we met someone. I never understood why he did not appreciate my helpfulness.

    • I remember in 1967/68 women (‘ladies’) should not smoke on the street.
      Must post photo of Stuttgart-Ulm autobahn in 1954.
      The book is also very funny on means of transportation. This was before the ubiquitous Nordic walking poles.

    • Have just splurged 85 cents plus 2.28 postage on A Fortnight in Austria 1951 at Should recall The Third Man. I doubt he went to the Russian zone, though.

    • Ah – so you think the British really were more self-disciplined than the Germans in the 1950S? Interesting. (I’m not sure what the general perception of British tourists to Germany is nowadays – probably shouldn’t ask – all I know about is drunken stag parties to Mediterranean destinations).

  2. I’m surprised about the euphemistic expression “final meal” – almost reminiscent of “The Last Supper”! *Henkersmahlzeit* seems much more to the point, drastic as it may sound.

    • I hadn’t thought about that. I think we call it ‘last meal’ in the UK, which is not much different. I see Brewer has already entered German Wikipedia under Henkersmahlzeit.

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