Bright Eyes

A Pessimist Among Optimists

Happy Germans
Young Germans believe the future is bright. Source. DPA
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The stereotype of the gloomy, pragmatic German may soon bite the dust as the country’s young people say they are looking to the future with positivity and optimism.

  • Facts


    • A study showed that eight out of 10 young German citizens expect good things from the future.
    • Sixty percent of German youth believe Germany’s best years still lie ahead.
    • Some studies show that optimists have a better chance of finding good jobs and advancing their careers.
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Germans are often accused of being particularly pessimistic, but apparently, pessimism is only an old person’s problem. Young Germans are optimistic.

I read about an international study that found Germans between 18- and 30-years-old have a carefree view of the future. Eight out of 10 young German citizens expect good things from the future, making them almost as optimistic as Americans, where nine out of 10 are happily looking ahead. And 60 percent believe Germany’s best years still lie ahead.

That’s not fair. I come from a generation of devoted pessimists, who were told the world would last only another 20 years. Part of my childhood memories was the forests dying off. Forests were dying all through my childhood, but now my childhood is over and the forests aren’t dying any more. The forest problem was followed by nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

We read “The Cloud” by Gudrun Pausewang, a book about how a child became the victim of a nuclear reactor catastrophe. Michael Ende contributed “Momo,” about gray men taking over the world, who steal time from people. Just about every possible effort was made to paint a terrible, depressing future for me.

Then there was the 1990s recession that told us that, sadly, we would never get another job again. And that’s how I became a full-paid-up member of the pessimist generation, who still see a nuclear catastrophe coming and are amazed their children were actually born with arms and legs. Now, those kids are growing up without a care about the future.

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