Chapter 2 – Personal Freedom

  • Everybody is allowed to practice whatever religion they want – or no religion at all. Religion is considered a private matter. So you are free to believe whatever you like, but you are also expected to accept that other people may believe in another God or nothing at all.

  • Discussions and debates in Germany usually try to find a compromise or come to an agreement. The press has a special kind of freedom, known as ‘the freedom of the press’. This is guaranteed by law. The press reports on a wide range of topics, and is allowed to criticise the government and other institutions (such as churches).

  • “Freedom of speech” allows you to express your opinion – as long as you don’t discriminate, or seriously insult or threaten anyone.

  • It is common for couples of the same or different sex to show affection in public. This includes holding hands and sometimes kissing or cuddling in public. This is accepted and acceptable behavior. This should just be ignored.

  • Having bare arms or legs is common and normal, for example when wearing a t-shirt or shorts or a short skirt. Staring at other people is considered impolite.

  • Saunas and some swimming venues are known as “textile free” or FKK areas. Here people are naked, so they wear no clothes at all. Otherwise, in public pools people wear swimwear. Usually men and women go swimming and to the sauna together. Sometimes special times are reserved for males or females only.