Berlin, March 27 (IANS) The Germans’ obsession for saving money is being displayed at an exhibition here which seeks to uncover why the habit was central to most people even in times of historically low interest rates, the media reported on Tuesday.
The curators of the exhibition, “Saving – History of a German Virtue” at the German Historical Museum, were hoping to spark a much-needed debate about whether the obsession was healthy, the Guardian reported.
“In Germany everyone takes it for granted that they should save, both privately and on a state level,” said Robert Muschalla, an economic historian and the main curator.
“The idea of making sure you stay in the black, is seen as a goal that is worth striving for at all costs, and is fetishistically stuck to.”
Saving boxes, money socks and piggy banks from every era since the foundation of the German nation in 1871 were on display at the exhibition.
“The fate of the nation rests solely in our own strength,” reads the epithet on one box from the Nazi era.
Another from 1900 reads: “Without saving your chest will be empty. If you have nothing, you’ll be a burden.”
Muschalla, together with the museum director, Raphael Gross, said that the exhibition – believed to be the first ever on the subject anywhere – was largely a response to the international exasperation felt towards Germany during the the eurozone crisis, the Guardian reported.
Germany was accused of traumatising southern Europeans, particularly the Greeks, with its insistence that they bring their unmanageable deficits in line by imposing German-style austerity measures.
The exhibition explores certain advertising slogans including the highly successful “Geiz ist Geil”, or “Thriftiness is sexy”, which was used by a major electronics retailer for several years.
It also examines the origin of savings banks. The first savings bank in the world was founded in Hamburg in 1778 inspired by the enlightenment ideals of social progress and was set up to serve the urban poor and help them emerge from their plight.