So who are Ze Germans?
They come from a country that only became a nation in 1870/71 (about the same time as Italy). Till then, they were a bunch of warring Principalities. Took the Prussians to pull 'em into line. Once Prince Otto von Bismarck finished with them, they were the biggest, meanest cats on the block in Europe.
Our natural allies. Very good at fighting and make a lot of cars. Ze Germans are on the outside cultured, urbane, very organised, have cold iron discipline, crap hair cuts and weird, weird specs. They have a thing for wearing leather and bodybuilding. Watching a German dance (especially a red-headed one) is like watching the geek kid at school disco get down to "Come On Eileen" in 1986. They are found weightlifting, wearing leather trousers, sucking sausages, braunschweigers and drinking oil.
Like the British, they retain their original tribal rivalries. Swabians do not view Bavarians as a particularly intelligent life-form - nor Prussians, for that matter. But the utmost contempt is reserved for the way Austrians speak. (Something like the Dutch attitude to Afrikaans, or the French shaking their heads in bewilderment at their Quebecois cousins.)
Unlike the British, Germans are organised. Trains run on time. The first snowflake of winter brings forth a grand fleet of snow-ploughs. The bulldozer-created tank roads of WWII have become the Autobahns of 2007, on which you'd better be doing 140mph if you don't want a Porsche or a Beemer ramming you up the arrse.
Keen Travellers especially to France/Poland
Abroad, however, Germans are possibly worse tourists than even the Americans. Deck chairs, buffet lines, ski resorts (the "Liftwaffe")...these settings bring out the worst aspects of the German character, such as rabid territorialism and aggressive speech, and make you want to strangle them with their own lederhosen.
If you work in an airport, these guys are the very worst tourists ever. The perpetual smiles (hip-flask full of Schnapps?) and the khaki shorts, grey socks & brown leather sandals give them away. When told by baggage-screeners that they have nail-scissors (prohibited items) in their bags, the response is, "Nein - Ich habe keine Schierren." Wot a loada bollox - they speak better English than u & me, then conveniently forget it when it comes to unpacking their bags & giving something up.
The Town of Sedan does a very good frequent visitor package for German parties.
Germans and the Military
Hun kit tends to be good, or seen as at least and it's rare that you hear a Kraut whinge about his boots falling apart, bits of his rifle breaking or his communications going tits up; but they don't like a bit of rough or hit like a Tom.
They haven't had a go at anyone (not even the French!) recently. This may be of concern for the future, since they have been due to go off on one for the last 10 years and cultural pressure to F someone over has got to be building up. Historically, every 50 years or so they decide that they've really had enough of the French belt through Belgium and give them a proper shoeing. Ze Germans are well liked and understood as a consequence. It is said that if it were not for the Channel, the Brits would be knocking lumps out of the French as often as Ze Germans. For the last thousand years or so this has been the main run of play. Indeed joint German / British Frog smacking sessions have been very successful in the past and we are well overdue for one now.
A favourite saying is, "I vas only obeying orders." Heard very frequently at war criminal trials in Nuremberg after WWII. However due to excessive pressure from human rights groups and a weak wristed Labour government given to passing the buck, the British squaddie is having to get familiar with these very words lest he find himself up The Hague on charges of crimes against Gordon Brown's world standing.
"Hande Hoch Jean-Claude, Ich bin ein Englander"!