Skip to main content

A Rich Culture

German-speakers occupy a prominent place on any list of the world's greatest thinkers, writers, artists, and scientists.

A list of famous philosophers and theorists would certainly contain names of influential German-speaking thinkers such Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. If Nobel Prize awards are another kind of indication of greatness, the field of German literature is well represented: twelve German, Austrian, or Swiss-German writers have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the most recent being Herta Müller in 2009, Elfriede Jelinek in 2004, Günter Grass in 1999, and Heinrich Böll in 1972. Of course, other famous literary figures such as Bertolt Brecht, Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Franz Kafka come to mind.

German is also the language of famous musicians. Among the ten greatest composers in history in Tomassini's recent ranking in the New York Times, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert occupy the first four positions followed by Brahms (7) and Wagner (9).

On Jennifer Rosenbergs list of the ten most influential scientists of the 20th century, German-speaking scientists such as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Max Planck occupy position 1, 3 and 4. Germany has more Nobel Prizes winners in the sciences in the 20th century than any other nation.

German inventiveness is legendary. Any list of famous German-speaking inventors and engineers will contain the names of Ferdinand von Zeppelin, Gottlieb Daimler, Rudolf Diesel, Wernher von Braun, and Karl Benz who helped shape modern automotive and air transportation technology.

Studying German language and culture will expose students to rich literary, philosophical, and artistic traditions as well as familiarize them with an abundance of cultural, economic, political, and scientific developments. If students can read original sources in German, they will gain an objective insight that no translation can provide.