German mindset: Fairness

Desire for fairness (up to absurdity) is a very representative in German culture

Nowhere have I felt the desire for fairness as strongly as in Germany. An average German believes that all people are equal, at least before the law. Age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality - everyone must have the same opportunities.

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            study in germany Screenshot 1. (Source:


Fairness - is such a thing even possible?
Pessimistic reality in Germany
Optimistic reality in Germany
Conclusion - consequences for immigrants

Fairness - is such a thing even possible?

At first, when I came to Germany, I thought this desire for fairness was very naive and far from reality. Born and raised in the Soviet Union, in the country where equality of people was anchored in the constitution and yet failed, I found the idea of fairness very sceptical in general and impossible in a capitalist society in particular.

I still wonder if it would be possible, at least in theory, to have a society in today's world where people are all equal. From the point of view of my own life experience so far, I think this idea is unrealistic.

Today I am less radical. Meanwhile I am convinced that industrially developed countries (like Germany) offer considerably more equal opportunities than countries with less democracy.


Pessimistic reality in Germany

Despite the strong emancipation, women in Germany still receive on average less salary and pay more for insurance than men.

Foreigners in Germany are also not equal at all. Compare the rights and benefits for foreigners from EU countries, foreign (skilled) workers, international students, recognized and non-recognized asylum seekers. You will see what I mean.

Your residence status is "invisible" to the people on the street, but becomes very visible as soon as you are looking for a job or for a appartments to rent. Temporary residence status is usually bound to employment at a specific employer or to studying a specific subject. Only after you have been given a a permanent residence permit you'll get an unrestricted access to the job market.


Optimistic reality in Germany

However, it is by far not as tragic as it might look from the previous section. No doubt there is a lot of fairness in Germany (even if it sometimes looks weird). Please let me tell you one example from my own life.

I came as foreign student from Russia, which is non-EU country, for the purpose of study. Even after my graduation 2007 I still had some sufficient restrictions. It was extremely uncomfortable, because none of the employers wanted to wait until the foreigners authority allowed me to take up that employment.

Everything changed as I got the permanent residence permit in April 2010. Suddenly I was allowed to do all sorts of jobs without restriction. My life became literally upgraded.

Just imagine this drastic improvement in your life quality in the foreign country. After getting permanent residence you can study anything you wish, as long as you wish and you can change the subject of your studies as often as you wish. You can choose any job, you do any freelance business or found a company. Just because you have got the permanent residence permit you may do all those things without that dishonourable requests at the Foreigner's Office. Your life in Germany is suddently ten times more enjoyable.

German fairness first seemed weird to me. Until I got the logic behind it

Can you stand another example from my life?

  • a) Wer bessere Noten in seiner vorherigen Ausbildung hat, sollte "Vorfahrt haben"t, ODER
  • b) Wer sich früher zum Studium angemeldet hat (als Beweis seiner Motivation) "hat Vorfahrt".

A friendly university employee explained that behind the "allocation of study places by blind chance" there was the following mindset:

We don't care how good you were before. You are now in Germany and maybe you want to "start a new life". If your past was not ideal, you must nonetheless have the same opportunities as other foreign applicants. Even if for some reason you applied to study later than others, we do not want to punish you for your slowness. As long as you have applied within the deadlines, you want to have absolutely the same opportunities as others.

Well, how do you feel and what do you think about that kind of mindset?


Conclusion - consequences for immigrants

Your knowledge of German language alone can cause huge differences in your acceptance in German society. For example, in the case of an accident from the point of view of the policeman recording the case, the person who can provide a clearer and more coherent description of the situation will appear more credible. Of course, some policemen tend to trust their fellow countryman more from the beginning.

I personally in my 20-years stay in Germany experienced several times that police officers really wants to remain fair - who seriously try to look at the Incident objectively, provided they hear a coherent and comprehensible description from both parties. I have already mentioned this aspiration for absolute fairness.

Do you see your chance? By (further) developing your German language skills, you will find more and more acceptance in the host society Germany. And it's logical - in every country of the world the locals are happy when foreigners learn their language, even if only a little bit.

Unequal status of foreigners is neither intrinsic nor fixed. Nobody stops your from getting higher up to the German citizenship. If you work diligently and do not violate laws, you will be generously rewarded in Germany. Even as a foreigner. Germany needs hardworking honest citizens who are ready to work, pay taxes, consume and grow their children. If such a life is not boring for you (and maybe your family), you can build a prosperous life in Germany in the nearest future.

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24.02.20 - 03.12.20 ©️ Jaroslav Plotnikov (All articles)