1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
A coffee filter
Image: picture alliance/dpa/A. Warnecke

10 everyday things invented in Germany

Julian Tompkin | Sarah Hucal
April 29, 2019

Germany has a reputation for innovation, with countless groundbreaking inventions coming from the minds of its citizens. Here's a look at 10 things you may not have known were invented in Germany.


When we think of Germany — the land of poets and thinkers — we often think of men like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the poet and natural scientist, or Albert Einstein, who discovered the theory of relativity.

And while many German brands have become household names (think Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz), few people realize how many commonly used items came to be thanks to German inventors.

Take the automobile, for example. In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach built the first functional combustion engine and attached it to a bicycle. This "riding car" was presented a few years later at the Paris World Fair in 1889 and by the 1920s, people were mobile.

Or the coffee filter. In 1908, Dresden housewife Melitta Bentz wondered if an improvised paper filter could make her morning coffee less bitter. Voila! The coffee filter was born and Bentz became an inventor. After she patented her idea, Melitta Group KG became a booming business and even today employs thousands of people.

Music to our ears

Another unexpected example is the accordion, an instrument many associated with French chanson. It was, in fact, invented in Berlin in 1822 by Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann. Even more remarkable is that the craftsman is said to have first invented the harmonica. How's that for a storied career?

From pioneering flight by inventing the hang glider or the helicopter, to medical advancements like the X-ray machine, Germans have had a hand in many inventions we still use today.

The gallery above features 10 of our favorite unexpected German inventions.

You'll find more from Meet the Germans on YouTube or at dw.com/MeettheGermans.

The best German life hacks

Skip next section Explore more