The 4 aspects of German culture

Carson Burch

Author's Bio

Bernhard Schlink is a German lawyer and writer. He was born in Bielefeld Germany in 1944 during WWII. He is most known for his book The Reader, which was the first German book to because a New York bestseller. The author has tons of background of this book, because he's lived in Germany his whole life, traveled to concentration camps, and he read the book used in the trial. Bernhard was also a judge, lawyer, and a professor for Humboldt University. Bernhard has written many other popular books like Guilt About The Past and Homecoming.

The Reader

The Reader is the book I chose to read for this project, because I knew from the summary that it would be very descriptive about Germany. The Reader is a very popular, well known book, and has been translated into several different languages. In 2008 there was a movie made from the book, and this book is also a semi-autobiography about Bernhard Schlink with a few changes in the story. The book is about a teenager that falls in love with any older woman, and then one day she disappears. 10 years later the teenager is a law student, and sees the women in a trial, being charged with responsibility of murdering 300 women and children.



Some of the most important values that Germans have are manners and education. Manners are extremely important rules to Germans, "...failing to follow these, it's considered rude, and may alienate those who are unaware of them" (Feichtinger). Education is also extremely important to Germans as well. The boy is The Reader told his girlfriend that he was ditching school to see her, and she got furious and kicked him out of her house. "If I still wanted to move up next year I'd have to work like an idiot. I told her I was cutting classes. "Out". "Get out of my house" (Schlink, 50).


There are hundreds of norms used in Germany, and these 2 are some of the weirdest out there. The first norm is the age between a male and female couple. In the book I read, the whole book was about a love story between a 15 year old and a 36 year old. That is a 21 year difference, which is really big. "When I see a woman of thirty-six today, I find her young. But when I see a boy of fifteen, I see a child" (Schlink, 59). Nothing was illegal about doing something like that back then, but no one thought of doing that. The second norm is perfection. Germans are know to do everything perfect, and one thing a German never does, is admit faults. "Germans are stoic people who strive for perfectionism and precision in all aspects of their lives. They do not admit faults, not even jokingly, and rarely hand out complements to others. This is no where illegal yet no one does it because it embarrasses them, and makes them a fool.


German is the main language spoken in Germany, and the most spoken in all of Europe. A certain book was used for the trial in The Reader, and was translated to German just for the trial. "The German version of the daughters book had been prepared for the judges, and manuscripts were made for all participants" (Schlink, 147). There are also many other dialects of German, that Kyla saw heard when she was in Germany. "German is the official language. Regional dialects often differ a lot from standard German" (Freeman).