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Germanic Efficiency

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Lufthansa poster, 1973
"The ideal of creating a new man after the bloodletting of the trenches stemmed from the belief that this sort of war had produced a new type of individual [...] Amoral, cool, functional, and hardened, he could withstand the ultimate test of battle without his nerves cracking. [...] Matter-of-factness thus marked the new man, who replaced the romantic relics of a failed bourgeois age with the image of mechanical precision."
Stephen G. Fritz, on the 1920s ideal of The New German Man note 

Germans come in a wide variety of stereotypes. Brutal barbarians from the north, cold blooded Knights Templar, corrupt aristocrats, Those Wacky Nazis, and many more. But at the end of the day, there are only three German stereotypes: Scientists/Doctors, Soldiers, and Engineers. And they are almost always highly competent perfectionists.

Note that Germans never lose their nerves and know no remorse. They do their job, they do it exceptionally and they are perfectionistic workaholics (also vindicated by the low incidence of strikes); driven by achievement and performance, they seek perfection, and they don't stop until they have it. And when they have it, a little imperfection in their work and they drive themselves to fix that tiniest imperfection to be perfect. Emotions are not necessary. It's almost like a national badasstitute of some kind.

You won't find any German mooks outside of World War II. If there are any Germans in the Big Bad's employment, only the position of The Dragon or head scientist will be good enough for them. And if a work of fiction has a famous and important foreign scientist, expect him to be German as well, though this has become less frequent in The New '10s.

Interestingly, before the 1850s Germans were portrayed as being too lazy, stuffed with sausages, and sloshed with beer to be anything but utterly incompetent at everything. For the better part of six centuries the Holy Roman Empire had been the sick man of Europe. Of course, in the mid-late 19th century the Austro-Prussian War, Franco-Prussian War, and Germany's ascension as a major industrial power (thanks to state-sponsored education and state-owned corporations) began to change that.

The trope's creator was the Kingdom of Prussia. After the destruction of the Holy Roman Empire in the Napoleonic Wars, Prussia, under Otto von Bismarck (a savvy statesman who coined the cynical term Realpolitik) reunified all the Germanic states bar Austria under the Prussian banner. In doing so, they made the Prussian virtues of self-discipline the hat of the new German state. Since the dominance of Prussia over the other German states, the older trope of Germanic Inefficiency has shifted over to Austrians and (to a lesser extent) the Dutch, partly because of the influence of Vrijstaat Amsterdam. However, Germany, appreciating both the culture of Bavarian and Prussia, is not a robotic sour "kraut" but closer to a Work Hard, Play Hard attitude.

The trope maker was the intellectual climate of Germany and Austria in the 1920s. There was a powerful emotional argument that both countries had lost World War I because the German people had been too soft, weak, and 'intellectual': to survive and prosper in the cruel world in which they lived, the German people had to become ruthless, strong, and calculating. Germany had to stop being Das Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers) and become the land of scientists and soldiers. When they came to power, the Nazis did all they could to make these hopes a reality.

Designed and manufactured by German engineers and companies, German technologies, especially machines and vehicles, are included in this trope: if the manufacturer's name ends with "AG"note  or "GmbH"note , you can be damn sure it's going to be at least portrayed as really, really awesome.

Compare with Dichter and Denker, German Peculiarities, and Asian and Nerdy (especially the Japanese, a longtime ally, friend and fan of Germany). Contrast with Germanic Depressives and Fascist, but Inefficient.

Note that this trope (despite the name) is only about Germans from Germany. It is not about foreign-born Germans, descendents of Germans, speakers of Germanic languages such as English and Danish, or Germanic ethnicities such as the Anglo-Saxons and Dutch.


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  • Commercials for German-made cars, especially BMW and Volkswagen, love to show us white lab-coated German engineers stoically watching their cars driven over gleaming steel ball-bearings in a controlled lab environment. And flinging inferior cars with a trebuchet.
    • Just look at Audi’s marketing slogan "Vorsprung durch Technik", which translates to "lead through technology", or French car company Citroen claiming their new car was "unmistakably German" to convince potential buyers that it was well engineered and efficient, or the Volkswagen marketing slogan "Das Auto", which translates as "The Car", as in "we are the only ones that make cars, everybody else are just a bunch of hacks." For more German singularity, BMW has "The Ultimate Driving Machine," Porsche has "Porsche. There is no substitute," Mercedes-Benz has "The Best Or Nothing," and Opel's slogan is "Wir leben Autos [We live cars]."
  • Toyota put out a commercial where a bunch of German scientists (presumably working for a German car company) kidnapped a poor Toyota put it through its paces and wondered how something so good could be done outside of Germany.
  • Volvo ran an advert boasting that when German car manufacturers want to test their cars, they do it on Swedish roads. And then makes the rather tenuous leap that a car actually made in Sweden must therefore be better.
    • Believe it or not the argument that no speed limits on (parts of) the Autobahn network helps sell cars is only partially humorous in German debates on that issue. Cars are Serious Business in Germany.
  • Vince Offer's famous Shamwow commercial: "It's made by the Germans, you know the Germans always make good stuff."
  • The first-generation SEAT Ibiza was marketed as having "Italian styling and German engines".
  • At a time when Adam Małysz was at the peak of his ski jumping career, a Polish company ran a TV ad depicting a team of implicitly German ski jumpers trying to "discover his secret". Apparently German training involved mechanical repetition to the sound of the coach shouting "eins-zwei! eins-zwei!". (Yeah, the ad was a bit of a lowkey scandal back in the day.)

    Anime & Manga 
  • Though their nationalities are never actually mentioned, General Uranus and his Number Two Colonel Hades in Appleseed perfectly personify this trope.
  • Germany in Hetalia: Axis Powers.
    • Prussia counts as well, when he bothers.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has Asuka who is German and excels at pretty much everything that doesn't involve emotional intelligence.
  • Laura Bodewig of Infinite Stratos was raised first and foremost as warrior, a duty she excels in... the cost of being taught none of the skills essential to being a normal girl, like making friends or understanding the concept of what a marriage is.
  • Belka, the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Imperial Germany IN SPACE! from the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, went on record waging war against the rest of the universe and actually dominating the fight for a thousand years in the backstory (even after their homeplanet was lost), and most of their long since abandoned weaponry is still operational. In a possible subversion, though, the fluff suggests that they didn't invent their advanced tech themselves but inherited it from the even more advanced Neglectful Precursors.
  • From Eroica with Love: Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach is the very picture of this-and easily enraged when his hapless subordinates don't quite measure up.
  • Rudolph von Stroheim, a supporting character in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency. 30 days after being blown to smithereens with a grenade defending Joseph Joestar from an ancient Aztec vampire, he is not only back in action, a feat he attributes to German medical science, but his body has been augmented with fantastic cybernetics far outclassing the capabilities of the vampires. Not only that, in the same span of time, the German military developed weaponry specifically to defeat the race of vampires which now threatened the world, including ultraviolet light cannons, telescopic machine guns, and flawless prosthetics. It's not for nothing that Stroheim remains one of the more memorable characters in the entire series and his memetic catchphrase is that German science is the best in the world.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Von Herder is a German engineer (living in Britain) who heads the entire equipment division of MI6 and is the top engineer for Moriarty's team (as...well as apparently the only one). Despite being blind, he's virtually flawless at his job.

     Comic Books 
  • In a Captain America arc, Hauptmann Deutschland manages to capture the Red Skull and his Skeleton Crew to place them on trial for War Crimes in Germany. As the Skull is led into the courtroom bound to a chair, the Hauptmann casually mentions that said chair also doubles as an electric chair and will be activated as soon as the court finds him guilty, adding "We Germans take pride in our efficiency". (Ironically — or irritatingly, depending on one's point of view — the entire operation is suspect from start to finish by German standards. Not only does Germany not make a habit of kidnapping suspected criminals off foreign soil for purposes of forcing them to stand trial in Germany, it has abolished the death penalty in 1949 in its constitution (article 102 of the Grundgesetz) — the last regime that did managed to thoroughly discredit the concept.)
  • As for the Red Skull, the old Nazi bitter-ender himself embodies this, as he is basically a highly exaggerated expy of Hitler, which makes him idiosyncratic but very efficient and effective. In one storyline where he won, we get to see what his utopia looks like: a high-tech Nazi police state where advanced science and engineering have taken man to the stars, the various mutants and supervillains of the Marvel Universe are all kept strictly in check, and all subversives and saboteurs are quickly disposed of in a clean and orderly manner. It's got curfews and apartheid, but boy, do the trains run on time...

    Fan Works 
  • In Discworld tales, such as The Price of Flight, A.A. Pessimal has created the character of Sergeant Hanna von Strafenburg, who brings a certain German-ness to her work as a Witch and, crucially, to the Ankh-Morpork City Air Watch. Hanna is, as a flying Witch, a one-woman Luftwaffe, the essential military glue that binds a Mildly Military operation, and has a "Vorchsprung durch Teknik" approach to making things fly. Anything short of perfect efficiency is anathema to her. Any broomstick she flies will be fine-tuned and Magitek-engineered to within a centimetre of its life.

  • James Bond villains seem to have a special fondness for German henchmen and bodyguards, especially Blofeld.
  • Hans Gruber and most of his men in Die Hard are German, helping to both make them appear to be foreign terrorists as well as explaining what a tight operation they're running. Die Hard with a Vengeance returns to the trope with Simon Gruber and his crew of badass, German thugs.
  • The Swiss bobsled team in Cool Runnings - their discipline is what Derice wants to emulate. It fails spectacularly for the Jamaicans.
  • The German drinking team in Beerfest is shown to be maximizing their efficiency by drinking while working out to some Neue Deutsche Härte music. The American team is much more laid-back.
  • The Grey Zone: Hesch bemoans the Germans' efficiency, even when it comes to killing.
    Hesch: For pete's sake, they will stand up corpses in the snow to get the proper count!
  • In No Man's Land, which deals with the civil war in ex-Yugoslavia, a UN officer tells another "We're being sent a German bomb disposal expert. Ours are busy. He should arrive at 1530. It is 1530." [German guy arrives] "Pünktlichkeit."
  • Offhandedly referenced in a joke in Hot Shots!. According to Admiral Benson, what wins the day are brave pilots like our hero Topper Harley...and German parts.
  • Referenced in Ice Station Zebra (both film and book): "So they took the film made by your German scientists and put it in the camera made by our German scientists and launched it in the rocket made by their German scientists..."
  • Subverted One Day in September, the 1999 documentary film on the Munich Olympics Massacre of 1972. British journalist and novelist Gerald Seymour comments that such was the German reputation for ruthless efficiency resulting from World War II, no-one doubted they had an elite storm squad ready for such situations. They didn't, and a bungled rescue operation cost the lives of the hostages. The incident did however lead to the creation of GSG-9 (see Real Life).
  • The Train has possibly the most Nazi line ever spoken in film: "I am tired of your inefficiency, Dietrich!"

  • This is referenced in the 1632 Series, where the seventeenth-century Germans are surprised to find that the twenty-first-century Americans think Germans are stereotypically efficient and cold-blooded - it being quite the opposite of the seventeenth-century "folksy, fun-loving, perpetually quarreling" German stereotype.
  • Subverted in the WWII novels by Sven Hassel, where the the battle scenes portray the Germans as very efficient troops, but presents various officers as incompetent and the stubbornness to fight on as inefficient. Though there are several officers that are presented as competent and efficient, ranging from Lieutenant to even several Generals, they normally are the Butt Monkeys.
  • Heinz Guderian in his Memoirs of a Soldier often criticized high-ranking officers who, despite their loss in WWI, were unable to see that motorized warfare was much more efficient in many circumstances and were focused on then obsolete tactics and equipment. Of course, he might have exaggerated that to emphasize his own importance but his sentiments are supported by other documents. It is also worth noting that this conservatism stemmed partially from the perfectionism and fear that reaching previous levels of efficiency with new weapons and tactics may require a very long time.
  • "Scratch a German and you find precision, thought Bond."—Moonraker
  • Interestingly, inverted in the works of Tacitus about the old Germanics: According to him, they were rather lazy.
  • In one chapter of his travelogue Last Chance to See, Douglas Adams describes meeting two German students in Zaire who are "young, fair-haired, vigourous, incredibly well equipped, and much better than us at virtually everything". He spends a night worrying about the fact this is an egregious stereotype, and it would be much easier to write about them if they were from Latvia, and then decides to just say they were Latvian for the rest of the chapter.
  • The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman by Andrzej Szczypiorski says that it's a typical German thing to try to excel in everything, whether in composing, thinking, working, owning, or exterminating.
  • In James Michener's Caravan, there was a story of a German engineer who built a bridge in a region plagued with flash flooding. The flash floods came, diverting the road and isolating the bridge, rendering it useless. To his credit, though, the bridge is still standing.
  • MARZENA has Germano-Russian Software Company Tresisda, the main rival of American Software Company Spartan Soft, but the whole world knows that the real brain behind Tresisda are Germans (The Russians are just there for the wet-work marketing). Well the whole world knows it except for Americans, they think that the Dragon OS is Chinese.
  • Victoria features a highly dystopian post-apocalyptic future, with various American successor states (nearly all of them nasty) fighting over what remains of the country. Next to the protagonist nation, Victoria itself, the most efficient and potentially dangerous of them is the openly and blatantly Nazi-wannabe state in the Midwest, manned by people of German and Scandinavian descent and run by a fanatic named von Braun.
  • Played with in Temeraire, set during the The Napoleonic Wars. The Prussian Dragon Rider air force is held in great esteem for their efficiency and aerial prowess. However, Temeraire points out that their formations are far too rigid and formulaic. At the Battle of Jena, the Prussian air force surrenders almost without firing a shot when the French bait away the Prussian boarding parties, leaving the dragon's captains undefended from surprise French boarders. Later in the series, escaped Prussian dragons adopt a more flexible combat style that makes them very effective.
  • The Archduchy of Crius in Lucifer's Star is a Repressive, but Efficient society of Transhuman genetically engineered geniuses and incredibly fit superhumans. They have a Germanic Feudal Future vibe that easily dominates their neighbors. They're also defeated in the first chapter of the story with its survivors coming to realize the rest of the galaxy hated them.
  • In The Tripods series, the English protagonist Will works with another member of La Résistance Fitz, who is presented as much more efficient and goal-oriented. When Will first makes contact with him after they're sent undercover as slaves in the Master's city, he realises that Fitz has gathered far more information despite having a Master who is far more crueler and restrictive than Will's Master, who lets him have free reign when he's not needed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Conan O'Brien would show a clip of a fictional German show "Stachenblocken"
  • Inverted in Hogan's Heroes, where every single German is completely incompetent.
    • Every single recurring German. Many of the one-off villains were actually threatening, but were usually handled by the end of the episode.
  • When James May of Top Gear (UK) took the Bugatti Veyron up to its top speed on a German test track, he mocked both this and his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies:
    James: But even when you've sorted the venue, you can't just jump in the car and go. This is Germany: there are procedures to go through. I like procedures.
  • Inverted by Better Off Ted. The German clients are intimidated by Veridian Dynamics because they seem to be "ruthlessly efficient and bent on world domination".
    • Or played straight to emphasize the extent of the VD ruthlessness.
  • Breaking Bad: Madrigal Elektromotiv GmbH, the German business conglomerate behind Gus Fring's drug trafficking operation, gives off this impression. Their direct impact on the plot happens almost entirely through their American subsidiary, so the decision to make them Germans was most likely made just to emphasize that they are a highly efficient and organized industrial empire, way out of the league of the small-time gangs and even the Mexican cartel that Walter had been dealing with before.
  • Better Call Saul:
    • As a prequel to Breaking Bad, the series once more shows Madrigal's involvement in the international drug trade, and reveals that the construction crew tasked with building Gus Fring's secret high-tech meth lab was recruited from Germany. However, the trope is zigzagged with the crew's foreman, Werner Ziegler: while he's smart, analytical, and extremely competent at his job, he also turns out to be very naive about the criminal nature of the project, and working in complete isolation for months without being able to go outside puts an enormous strain on his mental and emotional state. He eventually cracks under the pressure and flees the facility in order to see his wife, endangering the lab's secrecy and leading to his execution after Gus deems him a liability.
    • German cars are used to denote high social and professional status among the lawyers. When Jimmy McGill lands a coveted job at Davis & Main, District Attorney Bill Oakley excitedly asks about his company car: "Is it German? I bet it's German!" and is impressed when Jimmy confirms that it is. When Schweikart & Cokely deploy Kim Wexler to try and talk a man into leaving his home so they can build a call centre on the land, he is insulted by the paltry amount of compensation on offer, and even more so when he notices the lawyers' "black, shiny German cars."
  • Blackadder II - Blackadder and Melchett are being held prisoner by "Ludvig the Indestructible". Melchett doesn't have much hope of escape, but Blackadder thinks differently. Once Ludvig himself leaves for England, that just leaves the guards, who do the exact same thing every day (and even narrate it while they do so). When are at they at their weakest? When they make insulting pelvic thrusts. Trust Blackadder to punch the hard one.
    Blackadder: Germans are sticklers for efficiency and I've been watching their routine. I have selected the moment when they are at their most vulnerable.
  • Israeli satire show Eretz Nehederet featured this skit, satirising the high cost of living in Israel and the fact that Israeli products often cost less abroad than they do in Israel, and specifically the outrage at some Israeli chocolate bars being much cheaper at Israeli stores in the US than in Israel, and the rise of Israeli emigration due to this, often to Berlin (yes, Berlin. The skit was styled as an ad for a supermarket, owned by an Israeli and offering Israeli products, often with Germanised names, such as 'Neka Sieben' for Neka 7 and Zyklon B bug spray. To drive the point home, the owner asked his German delivery boy when a woman asking to have her groceries delivered should be home, and he answered, 'Between 11:47 and 11:49.'
  • Frasier:
    • Frasier Crane drives a BMW while Niles Crane drives a Mercedes. Martin Crane perceives his sons' taste in vehicles as snobbery, and when Frasier's car breaks down and he has to send it to a BMW specialist garage for repairs, and then wait several weeks for the imported replacement parts to become available, he enjoys a bit of Schadenfreude as he tells Frasier an American car would have been much simpler and quicker to service.
    • In another episode Niles has to borrow Frasier's kitchen to prepare for a dinner party because his highly-engineered German oven is too powerful for the wiring in the historical building he lives in. Martin once again snarks about a German appliance being so power-hungry.
  • Parodied in That Mitchell and Webb Look with "Reports Mode", purportedly a popular Bavarian children's entertainment show. At one point the show takes a break from all the reports to check how it's doing in efficiency.
  • In Chernobyl, the robot the protagonists try to use to clear radioactive rubble off the roof is of German manufacture, and when it appears to be functioning they raise a cheer to German efficiency. It malfunctions soon after, but only because the Soviet government told the Germans the "official" radiation count on the roof - the real amount of radiation is too much for even German craftsmanship to overcome.
  • In Die Wannseekonferenz, it even applies to their genocides. While planning The Holocaust, Heydrich comments that he doesn't know why all the various agencies want in, it just more work (though that is a basic German flaw).
  • Invoked in the Timeless episode "[The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln" with Flynn's men loaning Glock pistols to the Lincoln assassination conspirators and passing them off as a "Prussian" (a German state at the time) design. John Wilkes Booth, as an actor, is dismissive, thinking the Glocks lack gravitas, but the rest are more pragmatic, most notably Lewis Powell.

  • If you've ever wondered what Germanic efficiency sounds like, just listen to Kraftwerk.
    • Or Rammstein for that matter, are there any other heavy metal bands as efficient? Any more imposing scene shows? German efficiency!
    • Or the final scene of Das Boot - the march played at the scene the U-96 arriving to harbour is ''Erzherzog-Albrecht-Marsch", an actual march played when a German submarine arrived to port.
    • And of course, the Neue Deutsche Welle movement. One of the more notable songs from that movement is Trio's "Da Da Da", a prime example of carefully crafted German minimalism. If you're curious about the lyrics: They are about summed up by the chorus.
  • Krautrock. Alles gesagt!
  • Manuel Gottsching's E2-E4 is a minimalist electronic 2-chord proto-trance track - more than twice as long as Kraftwerk's ''Autobahn" - which he wrote to "listen on long plane trips". To his surprise, it was a big hit at New York's Paradise Garage nightclub, where it was catchy enough to dance to.
  • Anything done with synthesizers and which is not synthpop, such as Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Einstürzende Neubauten, KMFDM, Digitalism, Boys Noize, etc.
  • Or their more straightforward rock bands, like the Scorpions, Wir sind Helden and Sportfreunde Stiller.
  • Many iconic Classical, Baroque, and Romantic Musicians tend to be German. Famous examples would be Wolfgang Mozart, Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert. They are regarded as among the best musicians of their art and era.
  • German audio engineering equipment manufacturers are highly regarded. Among them are Native Instruments (makers of the Traktor DJ platform), Behringer, and Sennheiser.
  • Giorgio Moroder, although born in Italy, cemented his reputation during the 1970s as a composer/producer in the Munich disco scene.
    • Harold Faltermeyer, long-time session keyboardist for Moroder and a composer/producer in his own right (most notably "Axel F" and the "Top Gun Anthem"), has been assessed as having the rare talent of absolute pitch.
  • The MP3 file compression format was developed by computer scientists at the University of Nuremburg in the early 1990s. Together with file-sharing app Napster, the format proved to be such a Killer App for the early years of The Internet, it sent major record labels into a panic.

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • A classic stand-by for comics who work in Europe is to make a joke about Germans being humorless and highly efficient.
  • Eddie Izzard will occasionally do bits about German efficiency and the speed with which the Germans can accomplish highly complex tasks.
    Eddie Izzard: The Germans, very organized. Always built an empire. Eins, zwei, eins, zwei. Very Prussian.
  • Omid Djalili once spoke about how he made a joke about Germany having a negative number of comedians, and how Germans then came up to him nitpicking about the impossibility of the gag.
  • Henning Wehn points out that Germans have a rich, vibrant sense of humour. He also said that the essential difference between Germany and Britain is that Germans see humour as something to look forward to after a day of hard, efficient work. The British see humour as something to do instead of work, or perhaps as black comedy relief to compensate for the shoddy and prone-to-breakdown nature of British work.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Feng Shui, characters who use guns made by Heckler and Koch (such as the P7 and any member of the MP5 family) or drive German-made vehicles such as the BMW 328i Convertible will often wax poetic about "fine German craftsmanship."
  • Downplayed in BattleTech. House Steiner has strong Germanic influences, but for the longest time their military officers are construed largely as General Failures, and by extension their line troops are not viewed in any better light. However, they are highly respected as merchants and are both well known and often targeted by rival realms for their technological knowledge and large scale construction ability.
  • Mutant Chronicles: The Bauhaus corporation has a strong germanic overtone, (in fact, it is heavily implied to be the contemporary retail chain Bauhaus) and is obsessed with producing the best of everything. This is to the extent that they prefer to not field a major portion of their army to equipping soldiers with worse than top-of-the-line weapons.
  • Zigzagged with the Empire in Warhammer: While they certainly have a proud military tradition, are on the verge of an Industrial Revolution and are the biggest users of gunpowder weapons, they're also beset by corruption outside and inside, eager to pursue their own power struggles instead of presenting a united front, and just about the only thing the nobility agrees on is that the peasantry needs to be kept downtrodden.
  • In Rifts, Mega-Corp Triax Industries is the most advancednote  military manufacturer on Rifts Earth. Appropriately enough, they're located in, and largely responsible for the creation of, the New German Republic, the only country not to fall in the Great Cataclysm.
  • In Shadowrun, Essen-based German industrial conglomerate Saeder-Krupp (made up from the BMW fusing with the Krupp conglomerate and the fictional Saeder munitions) was the largest, most powerful and influential of the "Big Ten" Megacorps even before they got an immortal dragon for a CEO in 2038. By the start of the game timeline in the 2050s, they're even more so.
  • The Settlers of Catan series of board games introduced the "Eurogame" concept worldwide during the 1990s.

  • The Sound of Music:
    Franz: Well, that's one thing people are saying—if the Germans did take over Austria, we'd have efficiency.
  • Leopoldstadt: When detailing how his Aunt Gretl's painting was stolen during the 'Anschluss', or Night of Broken Glass, Nathan says how the Viennese citizens forced their way into Jewish homes and stole and smashed anything that caught their eye, spitting and calling them filthy names but the Germans put a stop to that after a week or two in order to more efficiently rob and terrorize them.
    Nathan: It was too anarchic for them. They wanted to rob us in an organized way.

    Video Games 
  • Discussed in Double Homework when Mr. Adler resumes his former job as school counselor. When the protagonist attributes his old-age employment to German work ethic, Mr. Adler replies that the only work ethic he has is his own.
  • In Starlancer, the German-made Wolverine heavy fighter is the last starfighter that you can unlock, and probably the best ship in the entire game.
    • In the sequel, Freelancer, Rheinland's military fighters are the most powerful of the four empires. They still fall very short of the Edge World ships though.
  • In Chrono Cross, the character Luccia is a brilliant, efficient, and morally ambiguous scientist with a very distinct German accent.
  • Averted in Champions Online. The Mad Scientist side character Dr. Von Schulz is a pathetic coward (or maybe just a realist) who considers the whole plan failed as soon as The Hero enters his lab... for which he's quickly killed off by the Nemesis.
    • Played straight, however, by Doctor Ohm, a minor German Villain who stoically continues his work (hacking a computer in search of Death Ray blueprints) while The Hero is beating up his Mooks and Mechanical Monster only a few feet away from him.
  • Belka, the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Germany featured in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War and Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, easily has (had) the most advanced technology in Strangereal, and their entire airforce is comprised of aces.
  • The Von Karmas from the Ace Attorney series are cold, efficient, and perfectionists to a fault. Interestingly enough, in Japan, the Von Karmas were American.
  • Parodied with Von Kaiser from Punch-Out!!. He claims to be the very model of German efficiency, and when he winds up to attack you hear sound effects like a toy soldier rattling or the cocking of a rifle. If he manages to knock you down, he begins mechanically jogging in place, and when he wins a match he paces around Little Mac's unconscious body disapprovingly like a drill sergeant. Despite this, it's soon revealed that this affected perfectionism is a front to cover the fact that he's a twitchy, nervous wreck. In Contender mode, a single counterpunch turns him into a basket case, hiding his face and whimpering "mommy", and hitting him with a Star Punch in this state will automatically knock him down or even KO him outright. Later played straight in his Title Defense fight, where he loses his fragile Star Punch weaknesses and gains an attack that will instantly knock down Little Mac if it lands (coincidentally this is when he namedrops German efficiency in his between rounds quotes).
  • In Rise of Nations, the Germans posses the "Power of Industry" and their bonuses focus on more efficient resource gathering as well as earlier access to economic technologies.
  • The Civilization series tends to portray Germany as an industrial powerhouse. In Civ IV the Germans get an Assembly Plant that is more productive than a standard Factory, the Hanse in Civ V is a Bank that provides a city increased production based on how many trade routes it has with nearby city-states, while in Civ VI the Hanse is an improved industrial district, while Germany can uniquely build more districts around their cities than other civs.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the titular organization's head scientist, Dr. Moira Vahlen, sports a distinct Germanic accent. True to form, she's a brilliant Omnidisciplinary Scientist and a disturbingly enthusiastic and effective alien interrogator. However, her given name and some other tidbits about her background leave her actual nationality ambiguous.
    • The sequel XCOM 2 deconstructs her character by showing what happens when a ruthless genius like her can go about her business without any oversight by more level-headed persons that could rein in her worst tendencies. While always having good intentions, her experiments on the aliens have resulted in threats even bigger than most of what ADVENT can throw at XCOM. Your current science officer's autopsy reports on the Alien Rulers she inadvertantly created are a mixture of respect and frustration towards Vahlen. They're such marvels of science that their corpses alone can help you create some of the best equipment in the game.
  • Valorant: Killjoy, the German engineer who builds and maintains all the agents' gear and weapons, lampshades this in one of her vocal lines.
    Everyone makes fun of German efficiency—ha-ha! Just keep laughing as you use all my gear.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • A recurring gag in the Kim Possible episode "Ron the Man" is the contrast between the ineptitude of Dr. Drakken's henchmen and the Prussian efficiency of Professor Dementor's. Of course, neither of them wins out in the end, anyway.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one episode, Homer is kidnapped in a conspiracy and replaced by a man who looked similar, but spoke in broken English with an obvious German accent. He manages to distract Marge from questioning him by offering to take her out to dinner and then having "efficient German sex." (We never find out if they went through with it, though.)
    • In an earlier episode, the power plant was bought out by a German company who lived this trope through and through; Lisa even told Homer that the reason Germany is an economic power is because of this trope. Interestingly, the Germans who actually came to run the plant were portrayed as being very friendly and approachable. Despite fears of mass layoffs, they ended up only laying off Homer (which, let's face it, is understandable) and most of the employees far preferred them to Mr. Burns. The status quo is restored at the end when the Germans sell the plant back to Mr. Burns when they realize it's in such sorry shape that it would cost a fortune to bring up to spec.
  • Supa Strikas The team Iron Tank is German and evokes all the cliches associated with this trope, along with a certain militaristic mindset.

  • Almost every modern action film and video game will have lots of German-made cars and guns which are usually portrayed as being the best available. Works set in World War II will also have German tanks.
    • Practically everything made by Heckler & Koch.
      • The MP5 submachine gun, which is popular among American SWAT Teams and countless other special ops groups, as well as numerous police forces, militaries and government agencies worldwide.
      • The MP7 PDW, also a favorite of many special forces teams.
      • The PSG-1 sniper rifle, famously one of the most accurate semi-automatic snipers available today.
      • The HK416 assault rifle, which is basically an improved variant of the American M4 series and the main weapon of the Delta Force.
      • The G36 assault rifle, which the German Bundeswehr phased out because it wasn't good enough. Still highly thought of by the rest of the world.
      • The HK417 battle rifle, a 7.62mm variant of the HK416 for designated marksmen. A lighter version, the M110A1, won a contract in April 2016 to replace the U.S Army's M110 SASS.
      • The P30 pistol, which is the main weapon of Michael Westen from Burn Notice from season 4 onwards.
      • The USP, available in three calibres. The .45 ACP version is what most Americans think of first and the 9x19mm is pretty widely used outside of the US.
      • The G11, the most well-known and well-developed caseless design in firearm history, considered to be way, way, way ahead of its time. Featuring an internal design so complex the whole thing was memetically nicknamed "Kraut Space Magic".
    • The Mauser C96 "Broomhandle", the service pistol of Nationalist China and a favorite with both Imperial Germany and the Ottoman Empire in WW1. Its 7.63mm round was the most powerful in the world until the invention of the .357 Magnum, capable of completely piercing WW2-era steel helmets. It also formed the basis for Han Solo's blaster in Star Wars.
    • The Luger P08, whose distinctive, sleek looks and usage by the German military in both world wars made it one of the most famous handguns in the world. Most notably, Nazi Germany's use of it throughout the 1930s until the end of WW2 made it the bad guy gun in postwar fiction. However, the Luger is notoriously finicky and complex, making it a rather impractical sidearm, although it functions wonderfully as a target pistol.
    • James Bond has made Walther Arms and its associated weapons very famous, most notably the Walther PP/PPK series of compact pistols and the Walther P99 series of full-sized pistols, as well as the Walther WA 2000 sniper rifle.
      • World War II made the Walther P38 famous/infamous for its cool looks and for being the Nazi's pistol of choice after its introduction in 1942 to replace the Luger.
    • There's a reason things are called "the Mercedes of X". BMWs and Porsches also have a very high reputation.
  • "How many Germans to it take to screw in a lightbulb?" "One. They're highly efficient and humorless."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): German Engineering


Von Kaiser

"Me? German precision? You (an American)? Windmill."

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / GermanicEfficiency

Media sources: