13 Most Beautiful German Quotes (& The Inspiring Figures Behind Them)

13 Most Beautiful German Quotes (& The Inspiring Figures Behind Them)

Germans get a bit typecast as “serious” people, but there’s so much more to them than that!

There are actually a great number of creative people of German descent!

There are many writers, poets, play writers, and philosophers, who come from Germany and did their best and most expressive work in their native language. 

There are also many famous figures in the realms of science and politics who spoke German and expressed themselves beautifully in their native tongue. 

Given the hidden depths of German culture, and how many people in the world speak German, there are actually a lot of beautiful, profound, and sensible quotes about life that are in German. Here is a sampling of some of the most beautiful German quotes out there.

1. Denke an all das Schöne, was in dir selbst und dich herum wächst und sei glücklich!

English Translation: Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy!

Many cultures all over the world are familiar with the story of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who kept a diary which she filled with hopeful and beautiful thoughts, even as she and her family were hiding and fearing for their lives from the Nazis. This quote about still being able to appreciate the beauty and feel joy, no matter the circumstances, deserves the number one spot in this list of most beautiful German quotes. 

2. Lebe, wie du, wenn du stirbst, wünschen wirst, gelebt zu haben.

English Translation: Live like, when you die, you will wish to have lived.

This is an example of how some of the most beautiful German quotes come from poets and writers of German descent. This lovely line about how to live one’s best life is from a 1757 poem by Christian Fürchtegott Gellert called “Vom Tode” or “From Death”.

3. Ein jeder kehr’ vor seiner Tür, und rein ist jedes Stadtquartier.

English Translation: It’s a German necessity to speak badly of the government over a beer.

This quote from Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of the German Empire, sums up the way that German’s think about politics. For Germans, local and national politics is something that everyone, even the “ordinary” German, should be aware of and capable of talking about even in casual conversation. Possibly because of their keen sense of history, German’s consider it important to be politically aware and keep a critical eye on the doings of the government.

4. Wir leben alle unter dem gleichen Himmel, aber wir haben nicht alle den gleichen Horizont.

English Translation: We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.

This quote from Konrad Adenauer, who was the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, is a gentle reminder of the systemic circumstances that keep us all from being “equal”. While we are all human, political, economic, and social circumstances sometimes limit the opportunities some people get.  

5. Wer sein selbst Meister ist und sich beherrschen kann, dem ist die weite Welt und alles untertan.

English Translation: He, who is master of himself and has command over his emotions, has at his feet the whole wide world and everything therein.

This wise and beautiful German quote about the importance of self-control is actually the ending of a poem by Paul Fleming. The poem, “An Sich” or “To Oneself” was written back in 1641 but is still considered good advice for living today. You should try to find it, reading or listening to poetry and songs in German is a fun and easy way to learn.

6. Auch aus Steinen, die einem in den Weg gelegt werden, kann man Schönes bauen.

English Translation: Even from the stones placed in your way for you to stumble on, you can create something beautiful.

This quote from Goethe is a reminder that life’s hardships are not insurmountable and what seems like a stumbling block now might actually give you a boost towards achieving something better. Goethe, full name Johan Wolfgang von Goeth is an example of a very accomplished German man, being not just a poet, playwright, and novelist but also a scientist and statesman. Many of the people behind the quotes on this list are worth looking into and Goeth’s works are highly recommended as he is one of the greatest German literary figures of the modern era.

7. Wir denken selten an das, was wir haben, aber immer an das, was uns fehlt.

English Translation: We rarely think of what we have, but always of what we lack.  

This wise and beautiful German quote from the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is quite similar to the idea behind the English idiom which states that the “grass is always greener on the other side”. Both are a gentle admonishment against envy, and the perils of always thinking about what other people have instead of enjoying what you yourself have.

8. Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich starker

English Translation: What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

If there is one quote in the list of most beautiful German quotes that is easily recognizable even to non-German speakers, it would probably be this quote from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. It’s from his 1889 book "Götzen-Dämmerung" or “Twilight of the Idols”. If you’ve heard or used this quote in English, well, now you know how it’s said in the original language.

9. Jeder, der sich die Fähigkeit erhält, Schönes zu erkennen, wird nie alt werden.

English Translation: Anyone who holds on to the ability to see beauty never grows old.

This quote about the importance of being aware of the beauty of the world around us comes from the novelist and short-story writer Franz Kafka. This statement by Kafka was included in a book by his friend the Czech poet and memoirist Gustav Janouch titled  “Gespräche mit Kafka”  or “Conversations with Kafka”.

10. Alle Zeit, die nicht mit dem Herzen wahrgenommen wird, ist verlorene Zeit.

English Translation: All time that is not experienced with the heart is lost time.

Another beautiful German quote about the importance of living fully in the moment and being aware of everything that is going on around us, from Michael Ende.  Ende is a beloved writer of children’s fantasy fiction, his epic fantasy “The Neverending Story” wasn’t just translated into English but also made into a series of Hollywood movies in the 80s and 90s. 

11. Das Schönste, was wir erleben können, ist das Geheimnisvolle.

English Translation: The most beautiful thing we can experience is a mystery.

Many of the most beautiful German quotes in this list have something to do with how you look at life and this quote from physicist Albert Einstein gives us some insight on one of the greatest brains in the 20th century looked at life. Given all the scientific discoveries Einstein either directly made or inspired, it’s not surprising that he approached everything with a healthy curiosity and an open mind. He didn’t despair if he didn’t understand something; rather he saw it as a challenge.

12. Wer kämpft, kann verlieren.Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.

English Translation: He who fights can lose, but he who does not fight has already lost.

Many wise German expressions and idioms talk about the value of persevering, even in the face of hardship. This quote from Bertolt Brecht is much in the same vein. Brecht was a playwright born in 1898 who served his country in World War I but was forced to flee when the Nazis came to power.  

13. Das Leben und dazu eine Katze, das gibt eine unglaubliche Summe.

English Translation: Life and a cat, that adds up to an incredible sum.

Many people will tell you that the secret to enjoying life is to appreciate the little things or to gain the affections of a cat. In this quote, that seems to be what poet Rainer Marie Rilke believed was the key to a satisfying existence.

 

You might be wondering why we are recommending that you take the time to study these beautiful German quotes. Wouldn’t your time be better spent memorizing common German conversational phrases?

While it is important to learn German words – even slang and swear words – if you want to develop the ability to hold daily conversations with German speakers, that’s not the only reason to learn German.

To really understand German-speakers, you need to also know and study what is in their hearts and minds. How they think and feel about love and life, what makes them sad and happy –these are all things you can learn by studying quotes such as the ones in this post. 

As we mentioned at the start of this post, there are many famous people of German descent who have a lot of interesting things to say, and the quotes here are just a small sample. 

What are the most beautiful German quotes?

1. Denke an all das Schone, was in dir selbst und dich herum wachst und sei glucklich! - Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy! 2. Lebe, wie du, wenn du stirbst, wunschen wirst, gelebt zu haben. - Live like, when you die, you will wish to have lived. 3. Ein jeder kehr vor seiner Tur, und rein ist jedes Stadtquartier. - It’s a German necessity to speak badly of the government over a beer. 4. Wir leben alle unter dem gleichen Himmel, aber wir haben nicht alle den gleichen Horizont. - We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon. 5. Wer sein selbst Meister ist und sich beherrschen kann, dem ist die weite Welt und alles untertan. - He, who is master of himself and has command over his emotions, has at his feet the whole wide world and everything therein.

What does this mean - Auch aus Steinen, die einem in den Weg gelegt werden, kann man Schones bauen?

Even from the stones placed in your way for you to stumble on, you can create something beautiful.

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