Skip to content

Sitzpinkeln: Germany’s dark secret

People who haven’t been to Germany don’t believe me when I tell them. They argue with me and shake their heads and plead with me for it to not be true. Some people have fallen silent and never spoken again. It’s a dark secret most of the world doesn’t know about German men.

Believe me: I understand why. It’s the same reaction everyone has the first time they visit Germany and learn the secret: German men sit down to pee. The word for the act is as horrendous as the act itself: Sitzpinkeln (going against nature).

To reinforce this behavior, room-mates, café owners and over-zealous mothers around the country have hung up signs above toilets indicating that a standing, peeing man is not just discouraged, it’s forbidden.

Photo thanks

Standing up to pee is forbidden in many bathrooms of Germany.

And it really irks ex-pat men. More than surly bureaucrats at the Ausländerbehörde (alien registration office) and most shops being closed on Sunday. According to most ex-pats, the second-largest crime Germans commit is expecting men to sit down to pee. It’s second only to waiting for the little green man before crossing the road.

For the most part, I’m not different. A sign with a stick figure urinating and crossed out by a prohibited sign feels like an affront to my human-ness – indeed, my manliness. How dare someone try to legislate how I evacuate toxins from my body!

When I was younger and living in Germany, the signs often motivated me to small, unobserved acts of social disobedience. I would stand and pee while giving the sign the finger. Fight the oppression!

Then, after my small act of protest, I would look down and discover that my urine had splashed all over the lip of the toilet. And the lid. And even the floor. Because I’m a good human and want to be a good guest, I would then spend the next few minutes wasting toilet paper to clean up the errant urine.

Probably not all of it mine. Some left by previous brothers in protest.

And all the while I would think: “Why didn’t I just sit down to pee?”

Sitzpinkeln, why?

Which leads me to my analysis of why German men sit down to pee. Is it psychological? Emotional? Are German men physically different?


But German toilets are. I’m speaking of the abomination known as the platform toilet. The German platform toilet. Many German households still have this porcelain torture device, which you to excrete waste onto a dry shelf before flushing it into the refuse afterlife. The toilet itself is worthy of its own blogpost but we’ll get to that some other day.

The issue right now is that German men sit down to pee (crazy, right?). But I offer that it’s because of the platform toilet. If you pour water onto a flat surface it spills and shoots everywhere, even up and out.

Same thing if you pee onto a platform toilet. And then someone has to clean that toilet. And bathroom floor. And bathroom wall. And it’s usually not German men.

So German men have agreed to sit down and pee, rather than clean up.

And after nearly two decades in Germany, I’m beginning to see the point. It’s become my dark secret too.


  1. The other day, the Bofrost Man asked me if he could use my toilet (as we never say “bathroom”, we get right to the point). After five minutes he came out and beamed: “You saved my life, I needed to pee so badly, i thought my head will explode.” Please note: Germans love to talk about bowel movements of all kinds, even to strangers.
    But he did it im Sitzen, so all is good. So glad nothing else exploded.

    • Drew Portnoy Drew Portnoy

      I have to do another blogpost on “I have to go on the toilet.” Too graphic!

  2. I have to admit, my London house has its own little corned dedicated to German culture and, yes, it is the toilet. No platform to showcase your work, but a reminder that while standing up for your rights is encouraged in this house, we’d rather you sat down to pee. It’s part patriotism, part aversion to having others mark their territory on our towels …
    Yes, British bathrooms are very small.

    • Drew Portnoy Drew Portnoy

      Even in the U.S. at the moment I’m having to admit my aim isn’t as great as I’ve thought it to be all these years. Maybe standing should be reserved for car parks, corn fields and mosh pits.

  3. Tobi Tobi

    German here.

    Oh come on… I just stumbled across your blog for the first time, so this is the first post I read from you. Thus I don’t know if it’s your thing to excessively celebrate stereotypes, but this post right here is simply too much.

    “peeing man is not just discouraged, it’s forbidden.”

    “Standing up to pee is forbidden in many bathrooms of Germany.”

    Yeah, I know you guys like joking about how we love following rules, but I can tell you that’s it’s definitely not forbidden to urinate standing up. We just like our toilets clean and not covered in pee. And that’s certainly not related to the (indeed pretty shitty ) platform toilet. The problem is existent with all other kinds of toilet bowls, too.

    Furthermore I’d like to make clear that the silly platform toilet is a dying breed. Yes, they used to be quite populat in the past (don’t ask me why, really), but I barely know anyone (rather noone) who still has one in his bathroom.

    • Erik Erik

      Heh, settle down, buddy, it’s obvious that his blog posts are supposed to be informative, albeit hyperbolic.

  4. R R

    You’re an idiot. Sitzpinkeln does not mean “going against nature”, that’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. It literally means “sit peeing” or “seat peeing”. As in, peeing while seated.

    This is also not a phenomenon exclusive to Germany, or a “dark secret”…plenty of men choose to pee sitting down simply because it’s more comfortable and relaxing, neater, etc.

    Honestly, if this is what you think is a necessary topic to write on, and make such a big deal about, you need to get a life.

    • Andrew Bulkeley Andrew Bulkeley

      Hey thanks for reading! I’m just curious how you found the page since I’ve had a huge spike in traffic the last couple of days but can’t figure out from where. I appreciate the feedback, the only comment I have about your comment is a link:

      And don’t forget: Vote Hillary!

  5. […] 2”). We all know how important accuracy is in German-speaking regions. Incidentally, my post about Sitzpinkeln, or men sitting to pee, goes viral again every few months, proving the world thinks men sitting to pee is weird, though […]

  6. Dragitall Dragitall

    Yeah, I think maybe this isn’t Germany’s darkest of dark secrets.

  7. Dirk Dirk

    When I see these signs I feel offended. In all honesty my penis is too large to sit down and pee; dragging the tip around on someone else’s porcelain is disgusting, and I’m not going to do it regardless of what signs you put up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.