Liv Hambrett

Germany + Australia + Culture + Motherhood + Home

Travel: Germany

Things in Germany That Can Kill You

Hailing from the land Down Under, I spend a great deal of my time debunking various myths regarding things that can kill you in Australia, and gleefully confirming horror stories regarding things that can kill you in Australia. Why yes the Box Jellyfish kills in mere moments, why yes its tentacles are over 60 metres long and a single brush with one is fatal. A shark could totally take down a croc! Spiders love hiding in your shoes, and snakes absolutely can get under doors! But don’t worry, they are more afraid of you than you are of them. The heat? Oh the heat! Suffocating, burning, the bowels of hell. But don’t cool off in water you can’t see through. There is probably a crocodile in there, or at least a highly venomous snake that can swim. Or a lost shark.

Occasionally, I toss the question back; is there anything in Germany that can kill me? Answer; not really (and I know all German readers are currently saying, ‘doch, Wildschweine!’). But if you really think about it, there are loads of things in Germany that can kill you.



We went to the bank recently, to open a new account. During our appointment, the Bankkauffrau went outside, cut down a tree, and set about systematically shaving off pieces of paper from the trunk. Thereupon three billion words were printed, with plenty of space left for multiple signatures, signatures that were so often demanded, I got a cramp in my hand. The entire lot was stapled altogether, and then we stood there as it rained paper until we could no longer breathe beneath the weight of Germany’s most beloved thing; paperwork.

The Language

It will kill you, or rob you of your sanity. Either or.


If barefeet don’t kill you, the stares and comments from people will.

Drafts // Open Windows // Irresponsible Durchlüfting 

Many people make the mistake of thinking Germans don’t like open windows – it’s an easy mistake to make when you are sitting in a room of eight people with the windows fastened because someone wearing three pashminas is shivering and certain they’ll catch a cold. But in actual fact the Germans like open windows – just not permanently open ones. During the cooler months (so, you know, 80% of the year) the Germans practice Durchlüften, the process of allowing air to flow through the apartment/room/offices for a set amount of time, before the windows are duly shut once more.  If you are truly serious about maintaining the balance of fresh air, and reducing the likelihood of mould, and increasing your own circulation, then you should Durchlüften multiple times a day for several minutes at a time. So, really, you will either die of stale air, of air that is too cold, or of the pure irritation of maintaining a responsible Durchlüften schedule.


Have you seen the portion sizes here? Schnitzels fall of plates, that Haxe is actually an entire baby cow, and in case you aren’t full from three kilograms of meat, here, have some potatoes smothered in cream and butter. Guten Appetit and Auf Wiedersehen pant button.


Technically speaking, a wild pig could totally kill you, especially if you happen to cross paths with a mother pig and her wild piglets and affect to want to steal a piglet. I assume, though, to try hard enough to cross paths with a mother pig and her piglets, you’d have to be rather desperate to get yourself maimed. That, or hunting, in which case … Team Wildschwein?


The Germans speak of wolves like the Winterfellians speak of winter. ‘The wolves are coming,’ they intone, as if just over the crest of that there mountain, a large pack of howling wolves are methodically, ominously approaching. I think one wolf, of the population of eighteen that apparently left Germany and took up residence in Eastern Europe, accidentally crossed the border one time and since then everyone has been certain the ‘wolves are coming back.’

Gigantic Seagulls After Your Pommes

Those things are not mere birds, they are the size of dragons, and they have no shame. They will kill for your pommes.

Supermarket Check-out Lines

One wrong move, one delayed grab, one wasted second, and you will die, with great indignity, and with no one offering assistance, beneath a pile of your own groceries.


  1. Amy @ The Tide That Left

    1 July, 2015 at 9:30 am

    This is hilarious and I don’t even need to live in Germany to appreciate it. We were all set to move to Germany this year, but a last minute change of plans saw us return to the UK instead. I’m a little disappointed; it sounds like it was going to be thrilling!

    1. Barbara Peters

      1 July, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      You forgot getting on the autobahn, and getting out of IKEA!! Or assembling something from IKEA! Love your posts!

  2. Bailie Hemborg (@Hemborg_wife)

    1 July, 2015 at 10:30 am

    In Southern California there are black widows a plenty and I still feel the need to check my shoes to make sure no spiders are waiting to attack my toes! The other day Fredrik told me there was a sign near his work warning of snakes and I was like yeah but Swedish ones not proper ones like back home!!
    The one thing I am now scared of though are tics, I never go into the forest but I do fear a renegade one getting me somehow!

  3. annton

    1 July, 2015 at 10:37 am

    ha, you just made my morning. laughing so hard! and all you have written is so, so true.

  4. Birte Weseloh

    1 July, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Oh god this is so hilarious and true. I love the pic of the evil looking seagull. Don´t forget the tics though. They are also coming (together with the wolves)…

  5. Carly

    1 July, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I love, love, love this. I ‘accidently’ wore my haviana’s thongs out today and then remembered the social faux par I was comitting. In Hamburg they are swim centre shoes only. At my daughters kita when i take off my sandals and walk bare foot the kids think it’s the funniest thing they have ever seen. I’m desperately trying to teach my 4 year old that bare feet are good, especially when it’s 25 degrees!!

    1. Flavia Barbieri G

      1 July, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      I live in Berlin, so I didn’t understand this. Here people just go barefoot and, sometimes, wear bikinis or even naked on the park…

  6. Franzi

    1 July, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Hilarious and so true! I cannot decide whether to feel ashamed of or amused at being German and totally agreeing on what you’ve written … especially the thing with the check-out lines – great, just great!

  7. Angelika Davey (@german_tutor)

    1 July, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Love your paperwork comparison!
    This is one of the few things I don’t miss from Germany … but I still practise das Durchlüften 🙂

  8. Petra

    1 July, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Me! As a German…have to admit…its all true and no frigging joke 😮 lol

  9. Sonya

    1 July, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    about the ever-moving pant button — just don’t wear pants — let the men worry about them. It’s definitely their problem! But I love the Durchlüften bit…

  10. Things in Germany That Can Kill You | Angelika'...

    1 July, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    […] Hailing from the land Down Under, I spend a great deal of my time debunking various myths regarding things that can kill you in Australia, and gleefully confirming horror stories regarding things t…  […]

  11. Julia

    1 July, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Hilarious and spot on!
    They make fun of me at work bc I’m such a paperwork nerd. I keep telling them that I’m. Not a nerd but merely German!
    I would also very much still practice Durchlüften if it wasn’t for the Texas humidity that would clump my dry goods in the pantry…

  12. Jeff Maltz

    1 July, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    I have no problem with most the things you mentioned. I had similar food in the USA. My family comes from Germany, so I am familiar with a lot of things here. The super market lines are awful and no one is polite about it. They seem to get a sense of” Schadenfreude” when the cashier opens a new line and everyone dashes toward it and one person gets there first.. One man almost ran me over to get in the new line. He grinned and I told him: Wenn Sie soviel Eile haben, bitte schön! His smirk immediately disappeared and he didn’t look at me again, but I smiled. 🙂 Another thing I do when I’m waiting in line is to let other people who have one or two items go before me.They are surprised, but always say danke schön, since there are no express lanes at the checkout. This is off the topic, but I also say “Gesundheit” when someone sneezes regardless where I am at the supermarket, in an elevator, or in waiting room. I never said “Bless you” or “God bless you.” which is passe in Germany. Most Germans are very grateful and say Danke. It’s too bad that a lot of the old German culture in Germany has been lost since the end of World War 2 and in the last 30 years. Things have changed for worse ,since I was a student here in the 1970’s.

  13. Geoff

    1 July, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Enjoyable, but you left out one major threat: bicyclists who believe that a single Klingeln absolves them of all responsibility for any harm that may attend their passage.

    1. Liv

      1 July, 2015 at 6:15 pm


  14. Tracy

    2 July, 2015 at 7:49 am

    And don’t forget the velocity at which they stamp any official papers. Do Not get in the way of a government official when he/she is trying to stamp any of her papers!

  15. Brooke

    2 July, 2015 at 9:46 am

    This is fantastic, especially the grocery line and window comments!

  16. Sabine

    4 July, 2015 at 11:22 am

    This is hilarious and SO accurate! And let me tell you as a German.. the supermarket check-out kills me as much as it kills you!

  17. Robert

    20 July, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Here in Virginia my wife still practices durchlüften every morning windows and doors come open for about ten minutes to allow fresh air in the house and at night a window in the schlafzimmer must be open because its healthy. That open window may be a Mannheim thing. Your articles are so on point.

  18. Kayla

    22 July, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Pretty late catching up on posts but the line “The Germans speak of wolves like the Winterfellians speak of winter.” is brilliant! And so true!

    t’s the same here in Austria and I can’t help rolling my eyes when seeing a piece in the news about the big bad wolves coming to get us because someone, somewhere, in some remote part of the country thinks he MAY have spotted one.

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  21. Bay

    5 October, 2022 at 10:50 am

    The grocery-line thing at the end is pretty hilarious. The people waiting in line, impatiently, looking around and sighing, looking at their watches, anything a cheesy 80’s writer would pack in; all to see them struggling to find their method of payment when it’s their turn. (‘they’ could be anyone, btw, distracted expressing grief instead of preparing)

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