Germany was brutally destroyed during the war. I don’t sympathize with nazi’s but its true that there were a huge number of civilian Germans who were killed during the war and its tragic proportions subdued just because they were on the wrong side of the battle…Not many know that 50000 people were killed in a single air raid in the city of Hamburg(source wiki ). Unfortunately people don’t talk about it in the same breath as what happened elsewhere.
Recently one of my good friends and a blogger asked me an interesting question.
“How did Germany become an industrialized and developed country inspite of the strict labour laws and destruction it faced in the war”
The rise of Germany post war is well documented and you can find details in wikipedia where it explains the wirtschaftswunder aided by american aid, currency devaluation and other measures. Besides these, having stayed here for sometime I could think about other german traits which might have contributed to phoenix-like recovery and the lessons we could learn from them.
Now the question is what makes the Germans special…Having worked with them and seen the locals I can make out drastic difference in work culture, ethics and attitudes. .
Law and order
To quote an example: - In the public transport system followed here, it’s not necessary for a passenger to show his ticket or pass to the bus driver. Neither do they have turnstiles in metro stations which validate your entry...
People here are expected to be honest.. It’s a virtue which is given extreme importance and people DO follow it most of the time. Ofcoz there are occasional ticket checkers in the metro but you would hardly find anyone traveling ticket less. I felt it was amazing that most people follow it inspite of the tempting scenario where you could actually travel without a ticket. Infact I have not seen this system in other European countries where the system wouldn’t enable you to board any public transport facility without a ticket. You may ask why Germans do it this way.
1) People are generally honest and obey the law.
2) The penalty on getting caught is huge. You could actually be denied a loan even after 10 years if your past record shows an indication of unlawful practice. It’s not a ‘one time pay the fine’ affair. A crime done, its baggage carries for a lifetime and people don’t think its worth to break the law.
3) Germans have a fascination for law and uniform. Infact they respect it so much which partly explains why Hitler managed to get people follow him with apparent ease.
There is no half baked approach to work here. Infact even the simplest of trade has to be mastered in perfection. To quote an instance, if someone has to start a saloon the person has to go through a three year full time course on hair dressing. It’s a system which makes you perfect at what you do. Infact here, there is no rush to finish school. They have 11 year schooling system instead of our standard 10. The result of this system is any work given to a german from painting a house to creating aircrafts is beau idéal.
In comparison the Indian instinct is to make things work somehow. The onus shifts from quality of work to how fast you do the job. Impressive in the short run but not long.
Another behavioral trait which is considered highly back home...”Not to say NO to anything” doesn’t work always here esp. as we Indians tend to overuse it to impress anyone. Germans expect you to be realistic and therefore it’s not considered offensive to ask for a pragmatic estimation. But they don’t appreciate if you don’t manage to finish the job in agreed upon time. A mistake often happening to many first time onsite software engineers.
This is an area where we need to draw valuable lessons. I remember our ministers blaming short life span of our roads on the monsoons. Our instinct is to put the blame rather than find the solution. Here, where the roads are punished even more due to the vagaries of nature, they still last for a lifetime because for them they perceive it as a challenge to create lasting quality infrastructure. Infact I could assume the german skills in heavy machinery was a result of shortage of manpower which forced them to innovate and create machines for every task. We are much better blessed manpower and weather wise and hence we haven’t been really ‘forced’ to innovate. At the same time the classic ‘our fate’ attitude for anything non-positive makes us settle in comfort submission zones.
Nationalism and Practicality
Germans have a unique sense of nationalism. They had consciously shed the German race theory and quickly resorted to nation building after the war. Ofcoz since a large number of Germans died in the war, they used auslander’s (outsiders... mostly Turks) for that. There was an inherent desire to catch up with the victors of the war and practical nature of Germans can be seen in subtle examples like the stark difference between the architecture in comparison to France if you notice comparatively newer design seen in Germany. France since it was less destroyed still carries the old European charm whereas Germans preferred the functionality over the charm. That doesn’t mean Germany is any less beautiful…Infact elegancy wise I think the squares and countryside here beats the French any day.
We still stick to beauty of grandiose designs than over practical use. We spend more money on monolith statues or pillars than the roads or public facilities. Sadly we even scuttle useful ideas from implementation under the clause of financial viability. Last year in the city where I live, they celebrated 100 years of the metro network (in a city with one sixth the population of Bangalore)… The price we pay for laid back and short sighted approach to infrastructure can be seen in our big cities. What they foresighted 100 years ago may not have been financially back then, but the results paid off. Our city administration should take cue from em and stop wasting years on “financially viability” studies for public infrastructure projects. Long term nation building should be given precedence over short term financial or political gains.
Relation with other European countries
I guess most of you might think that I have been supporting the Germans over the French in this post. I agree partly due to the fact that I have been living here and my friends here are Germans who have historic hatred for the French and that feeling is mutual. ;-D
Most Germans are sad that they are the portrayed the classic villains in Europe. But historically speaking almost all European countries have their shades of grey. Racism is prevalent in shallow mindsets just as much we would feel for other Asians living in our country and probably its least in Germany. If you go further back in history the supposedly peace loving Swedes and Norwegians were equally brutal during the thirty year war which most of us are not aware of.
There is still a rivalry between all the European countries which is not much in open ever since the European Union became functional. The practicality of co-existence dawned on them which keep this rivalry in small talks over a beer.
India needs to find the solution to the Kashmir problem. What we now have is a peaceful existence of co-hatred for which we spend hell lot of money and yet to no real solution.
I must admit this country is not what it used to before...There is a huge disconnect between old timer Germans and the new generation. The new Germans did not have to struggle or work hard as the old timers…They are threatened by Indians and Chinese who are fast catching up and trying to excel in what they did previously. But am sure they will re-invent themselves considering this is a country which gave birth to people like Nietzche...Goethe...Einstein and Porsche.
We are almost in the same situation like the Germans were in late 50’s... There is an Indian dream in most of us to be successful. But the dream is restricted to a small percentage of population and a vast number still haven’t moved much between the 70’s and today. There was an inherent desire among germans after the war to be a dominant force in the world albeit in a different way, which the succeeded. What we need do to is mature as fast as they did...in thinking and practice with a zeal which goes beyond our definition of a multi-religious democracy which we are justifiably proud of. A nation which should be able to survive based on what we make, what we can offer and beyond fluctuations of currency conversion which we are currently heavily dependant on. Although we have made a progress over the last decade, it still got a lot of change to happen to be a force to reckon with.
Once upon a time…….. - *kadalinakkare ponore, kaana ponninu ponorekadalinakkare ponore, kaana ponninu ponore* *poy varumbol enthu kondu varum -- kai niraye* *poy varumbol enthu k...
7 years ago