How Germany’s past may affect present-day coronavirus speeches
  • Alysa Salzberg

How Germany’s past may affect present-day coronavirus speeches

In speeches about the coronavirus pandemic, world leaders often use terms like “war”, “fight”, “battle”, and “enemy.” That’s not the case, however, in Germany.


Praised for their country’s handling of the outbreak and its relatively low death rate ,

Chancellor Angela Merkel and several of her fellow politicians have often given speeches and updates about the virus. But interestingly enough, none of those speeches has used war-related vocabulary.


A new article suggests that this may be due to Germany’s history. Today, bellicose rhetoric might be perceived as overly aggressive and problematic in German culture. This may be why, instead of describing the pandemic and prevention efforts as a fight of some kind,


Merkel and others use vocabulary like “a great challenge” and “a historical task”.

It’s difficult to know if the theory is correct. It would be fascinating to ask Germans about this – including Merkel and her speechwriters. But it’s an interesting idea, just the same, and highlights how communication can vary in subtle ways across cultures, even when we’re all fighting (or being challenged by) the same disease.


Read on to learn more about how Germany’s past may have influenced its present-day pandemic speeches.



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