Germany’s top ten cultural exports

Germany is often praised for its advanced music scene, diverse film productions and other cultural highlights that make it across the country’s national borders, enchanting people all over Europe and the world. Discover Germany takes a look at some of Germany’s top cultural exports this month.

TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTO © PIXABAY

Long disregarded is the archaic notion it was solely British and American artists and cultural offerings making it big internationally. Germany too has for a while now been known as a country that offers up countless contributions to the rest of world. Some examples are: new car innovations; the headache solution Aspirin; Martin Luther, who translated the bible; individuals such as Kant or Marx; as well as Albert Einstein, who won the Nobel Prize in physics for his scientific discoveries. German cinema was brought to the fore by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Christoph Waltz, while the modernist Bauhaus movement helped to shape the way the world thinks about design.
It’s no secret that Germany has made a profound impact on the world. That’s why Discover Germany now takes stock of the country’s top ten cultural exports which have had a significant impact on Europe’s, and indeed the world’s cultural scene in the recent past.

1. Die Drei Fragezeichen

For 40 years now, Die Drei Fragezeichen have enchanted young and old fans with their fascinating and thrilling books and audio books about three young detectives. Every German household will have at least one of the gripping stories on its shelves – and no wonder then, that the stories have been sold over 50 million times since 1979. Even though the story originates in America, it never really became truly successful there, and so the books were discontinued over there after the 43rd book. It lived on in Germany, however, where it has celebrated unprecedented successes via the help of different authors. In 2018, the series celebrated its 40th anniversary, which is being celebrated with a live tour throughout Germany in 2019.

2. Classical Music: The Three B’s

Of course, classical music can’t be missed out on a list like this. Germany’s classical music scene has impacted the world for many centuries and, in particular, three composers are known everywhere: Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms. While Bach is best known for his contributions to Baroque music, Beethoven significantly coined the Romantic era of classical music. Brahms, on the other hand, was a traditionalist and perfectionist who utilised counterpoint heavily in his compositions.

3. Nena
One of the more recent German musical exports is, of course, Nena. The German singer-songwriter rose to international fame in 1983 with the ‘Neue Deutsche Welle’ song 99 Luftballons. The song was a Cold War-era protest song which reached number two on the US charts and became one of the most successful non-English language tracks in US Billboard chart history. The English version of the song achieved the number one position in the UK, which made the artist internationally famous.


Nena. Photo: © Florentine Paura, Laugh + Peas Company

4. Grimms’ Fairy Tales

Originally published in 1812, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, originally known as the Children’s and Household Tales, is a collection of fairy tales by the Grimm brothers or ‘Brothers Grimm’. While the first edition contained 86 stories, the seventh edition in 1857 had 211 unique fairy tales. The stories have fascinated and frightened generations of children and adults in more than 70 languages.

5. The Easter Bunny

Did you know that the Easter Bunny actually comes from Germany? The folkloric figure is a symbol of Easter which brings Easter eggs to children in the form of a rabbit. According to many sources, the origins of the Easter Bunny can be found in Germany: it was said to have arrived in America in the 1700s, with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania bringing with them their tradition of an egg-laying hare called ‘Osterhase’.

6. Black Forest Gateau

What can’t be forgotten about when talking about Germany’s top cultural exports, are iconic culinary items. When most people think about German foodstuffs, sausages and beer come to mind. But another item has been popping up for decades: Black Forest Gateau. The tasty cake can be found on menus all over the world for one simple reason: its unique flavour. It’s a chocolate sponge cake with a rich cherry filling and whipped cream. If you’ve yet to, we suggest sampling a slice as soon as possible!

7. Christmas trees

The Christmas tree tradition is omnipresent all over the world, and has been for some time. Most countries grow their own trees and provide families with the most beautiful ones throughout the Christmas period, and they come in all shapes, sizes and colours. But did you know that the tradition of Christmas trees most likely started in Germany? Apparently, devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes as early as in the 16th century, and it is widely believed that Martin Luther was the first person to add lighted candles to a tree.

8. Scorpions
When it comes to rock music, one name should always be mentioned: Scorpions. The rock band was formed in 1965 in Hanover and has celebrated massive successes all over the world, becoming one of Germany’s most successful bands internationally. It should be noted that the band has to date sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Numerous other bands, including Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and Korn, have even covered songs by the Scorpions.

9. Modern football shoes

When it comes to fashion, Germany is not regarded too much across the globe. One item, however, that does hail from the country and is used all over the world, is the modern football shoe. When Germany won the 1954 FIFA World Cup, part of the win was attributed to the team’s revolutionary Adidas shoes with interchangeable studs. Today, this is standard, but back then, it was a novel approach. Puma claims to have produced these shoes before Adidas patented the idea, but this quarrel goes back to a fight between the two Dassler brothers Adolf and Rudolf, who worked on developing these shoes together before falling out and each founding their own companies – Adidas and Puma.

10. Settlers of Catan

The Settlers of Catan is a German multiplayer board game which was designed and first published by Klaus Teuber in 1995. Over the past few years, the game has transformed from a small niche activity into a mainstream hit across the globe. As of 2015, more than 22 million copies in 30 languages had been sold. The fascination largely comes from the game involving a high amount of strategy, while still being fairly simple to learn. Players assume the roles of settlers, and they each attempt to build and develop holdings while trading and acquiring resources.

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