How to get rid of a German friend

A complaint you’ll frequently hear from foreigners living in Germany is that it’s very difficult to make German friends. However, once a friendship has been established, it’s going to last, unlike those “easy come, easy go” friendships in other cultures.

This is completely true and the few exceptions you might encounter just confirm the rule1. Which leads me to the topic of this article: How to get rid of a German friend when he (or she2) fully expects your friendship to last until the end of time3.

Say you don’t want to be friends anymore

In theory, it seems this might work: Germans are very direct, so why not just make an appointment, arrive on time and tell your friend that it’s over? Because not only are friendships sacred in Germany, you also seem to have forgotten that Germans are right about everything all the time4. Your friend will interrogate you about the reasons for your unfathomable request, and then he’ll easily invalidate every single one.

Ending the friendship has to be his idea

The key to getting rid of a German friend is to offend him so much that he’ll not want to have you as a friend anymore. However, don’t go for the obvious choices like saying that you’d vote for the AfD, you think that nuclear energy is safe or that you’re in love with him. What would happen is that either your friend would reveal that he shares the same thoughts and feelings and was just too afraid to say so (and then you’d be closer friends than ever and might even have to enter into a civil union), or, if that’s not the case, he’d try everything to set you straight and get those wrong ideas out of your head. Why? Because he’s German, and you’re wrong5.

Move away

It’s simple enough: Quit your job, file for a divorce6, give away what’s left of your stuff and move to the other end of the world. Problem solved? Almost. There’s one final step.

Come back

If you had paid attention during your Integrationskurs, you’d know that an area of 50 km around your friend’s place is his Freundschaftsgebiet (friendship territory). If you ever enter his territory after having moved away, you are obligated to pay him a visit! Furthermore, you’ll have to spend a significant part of your time with him (100% if he has a Schlafsofa or guest bedroom). Failure to observe these rules will cause immediate and irreparable damage to your friendship. Which is exactly what you want!

So there you go

  1. Move away.
  2. Come back (for a visit or for good, doesn’t matter) but don’t tell your friend.
  3. Make sure your friend eventually finds out (e.g. by posting on Facebook about how much you enjoyed your trip to the city you used to live in or by running into him on the street and saying that you really wanted to let him know you were back, but had been too busy during the last months).
  4. Friendship over.

1 I’m telling you this as a German.

2 I’m going with “he” in this article because – no offense – everyone knows women can’t have sincere friendships.

3 This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be moving into the same retirement home together. While not particularly religious, many Germans are convinced some sort of apocalypse will happen in their lifetime (rather sooner than later).

4 A mistake many foreigners make, don’t beat yourself up over it.

5 Forgot it again, didn’t you?

6 I’m just going to assume that you’re married to a German spouse, why else would you be living in Germany?

Zu Fremden “eine Armlänge” Distanz halten

Die Wiederholung von Vorfällen wie an Silvester in Köln möchte Oberbürgermeisterin Henriette Reker u.A. mit einem Katalog an Verhaltensregeln verhindern. Zu diesen Regeln gehört – laut der Rheinischen Post – auch, dass Frauen zu Fremden “eine Armlänge” Distanz halten sollen.

Dafür gab’s berechtigterweise viel Spott im Internet. Den mit Abstand besten (weil bösesten) Kommentar schrieb ein Nutzer auf Reddit:

Die Reker hätte halt besser mal ‘ne Armlänge Distanz zu dem Messerstecher gehalten.

(Wer’s nicht kapiert: klick)

Auf den Rest der Verhaltensregeln darf man gespannt sein.

Photo of Xavier Bettel giving shoes to homeless person

A photo of Luxembourg’s premier Xavier Bettel spontaneously giving shoes to a homeless person has appeared on the web:

Iconic photo of Xavier Bettel giving shoes away

Now that I’ve got your attention: Please support this project on Kickstarter which is trying to raise funds for a charity concert where donations will be collected to help Caritas Luxembourg help homeless people.

If you’re not working in the financial sector, you might think this sounds overly complicated. It makes sense, though: Your small contribution on Kickstarter can help set something much bigger in motion. Just think of it as starting an avalanche a forest fire a pyramid scheme a multiplier. Also, if you like simple solutions, why don’t we just let the homeless live in the Philharmonie?


P.S. (July 21, 2015): This film offers a glimpse into the live of homeless people in Luxembourg:

Did KLM’s 2015 April Fools’ prank go too far?

When it comes to April Fools’ hoaxes, no other airline can compete with KLM. Remember the video of a beagle running through Schiphol to find the owners of items left behind (2014)? Or “Meet & Seat“, a social seating service that supposedly allowed passengers to choose their seatmates based on their social media profiles (2012)?

This year, the world’s oldest still operating airline pranked thousands of customers by sending them an email saying that their upcoming flight had been cancelled. No reason was given in these messages.

You might think that the passengers then called KLM only to be told “April fools! We got you good, didn’t we?” and everybody would have had a laugh. In the days before social media and viral content, this might have been sufficient. But in order to surpass the success of last year’s lost & found beagle video (which is approaching 20.000.000 views) and to guarantee that enough buzz would be created, KLM took things to the next level. Step 1: To make sure passengers had to resort to social media to get in touch, nobody in the call center picked up the phone. Step 2: Contacting KLM through Facebook was only possible by making a public post to the page.

This meant that the passengers’ hilarious stories could be enjoyed and shared by everyone. Here’s one of my favorites:
KLM April Fools Prank 1

Forcing passengers to make public posts had another brilliant effect: Since people were posting under their own name and often mentioned their booking codes, this meant anybody could use these credentials to change a few things through KLM’s “My Trip” service. Travelling to Martinique on your honeymoon? Let’s put your spouse in seat 11A and you in 57F. Flying to Buenos Aires? You’ll certainly appreciate a fine Indian vegetarian meal. Do you require a stroller? No? You have one now. Crowdpranking at its finest.

KLM Prank 2

Once again, KLM has demonstrated an unparalleled mastery of social media. I can’t even imagine what they’ll come up with next year. Support exclusively through Tinder, but only if you’re DTF? I’m certainly looking forward to it.