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The Swabians: The Perceived Underdogs of Germany

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

What stereotypes does your country have of particular cultures? 🤔 From my experience, the Swabians are the most targeted in Germany. In Berlin, some buses wear the advertisement: “Dear Swabians, we happily bring you to the airport” And as many states claim: “The Swabians can do everything, except speak (standard) German” 🤐

Have you ever visited Swabia? Where Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have their HQ and where Volkswagen originates. Would it surprise you to know that the teddy bear 🐻 was invented here and that a Swabian, not an American, founded the beloved Universal Studios? Even the second most influential person to characterise Germany as the land of “poets and thinkers” was Swabian: Friedrich Schiller

Despite evidence that Swabians can be intelligent, the most popular story about them is “The Seven Swabians”. Written by the Brothers Grimm, it tells of Swabian men who battle a fierce dragon 🐲 , to then discover that they are fighting a rabbit 🐰 Later, six of them mistake the croak of a frog for the yells of their leader, who is crossing a river. In attempt to save him, they drown. Swabians are truly the underdog of Germany 😄 

Within Germany, they are also renowned for being economically conscious. Germany´s second-longest serving councillor, Angela Merkel, once commented that the Global Financial Crisis would never have occurred, had banks learnt from the Swabian housewife. As a popular saying goes, they work, work, then build a home (schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue!). Yet the reality is: 25% of Germany´s federal states have more people who build their own home  🏠 

Despite attempts from Germans to distance themselves from Swabians, they do share certain values. Being the centre of destruction during the thirty-year war (1618-1648), centuries of religious beliefs that saving money was a moral responsibility, then further impoverishment from world wars created a national environment where it was essential to survive. Their language has only one word for “debt” and “guilt”: Schuld 👨‍⚖️

The book of my knowledge today was gifted to me at crossculture academy after my first internship in the intercultural field. Stuttgart became the city where I started my career in 2022. Four years prior, in Tübingen, I left my life in Australia to pursue one in Germany. And in the process, in Nagold and Villingen-Schwenningen, I came to faith. Much of my personality was built in Swabia. With that in mind, I hereby conclude: “Was für ein Glück – mir send Schwoba!” 💪❤️

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