In subsequent years, a dozen similar rankings were compiled, mostly titled the "favourite (topic) of the Germans", with topics including books, places, songs, actors, comedians, sports persons (extra list for football players), inventions, and TV broadcasts (extra list for Olympic games).
The intention initially was to find out "Who are the greatest Germans?" (Wer sind die größten Deutschen?), with more rankings to follow later. The German public was allowed to vote (via postcard, SMS or Internet) for the most important Germans—historical or contemporary—from a list of more than 300 people, plus additional suggestions.
This pre-determined list of candidates was created for two reasons:
However, the inclusion of Nikolaus Kopernikus, who spoke and wrote German, in the list of scientists caused controversy in Poland where he is revered as a national hero – the Polish Senate declared him an "exceptional Pole" on 12 June 2003. Similarly the inclusion of Mozart and Freud was criticized in Austria.
For the final Top Ten, an additional round was held, in which each candidate was promoted by an "ambassador" (most of them journalists) that would explain the work and importance of his or her favourite.
There was controversy over the televoting because of the high call charges associated with the programme.
The final list appeared as shown below (in descending order). Several rather unknown figures ranked relatively high, no doubt because of temporary popularity and organized votes from fan groups (#15), or in case of #125, just an entry by organized Internet forum members to honour one of their members.
|Rank||Personality||Notability||Nomination defended by|
|1||Konrad Adenauer||Chancellor, admired for making post-war Germany a democratic nation again and a political and economical power.||Guido Knopp, journalist and author|
|2||Martin Luther||Priest, theologian and activist. Founder of Protestantism.||Margot Käßmann, theologian|
|3||Karl Marx||Writer, economist and philosopher. Founder of scientific socialism.||Gregor Gysi, politician|
|4||Sophie Scholl and Hans Scholl||Activists, members of the White Rose movement, an anti-Nazi resistance group during World War Two.||Alice Schwarzer, journalist|
|5||Willy Brandt||Chancellor, implemented the Ostpolitik and admired for his pacifist policies and official public apologies for Germany's war past. Received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.||Friedrich Nowottny, journalist|
|6||Johann Sebastian Bach||Composer. Creator of Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, Matthaus Passion, Johannes Passion and Brandenburg Concertos. His works are still performed and beloved all over the world.||Götz Alsmann, TV presenter and singer|
|7||Johann Wolfgang von Goethe||Poet, novelist and playwright, author of The Sorrows of Young Werther and Faust; widely admired as the most important and influential German-language author of all time.||Peter Sodann, actor, director and politician|
|8||Johannes Gutenberg||Printer. Inventor of movable type printing in Europe.||Wolf von Lojewski, journalist|
|9||Otto von Bismarck||General and chancellor, admired for the unification of the German state.||Helmut Markwort, journalist.|
|10||Albert Einstein||Theoretical physicist, discovered the general theory of relativity and the law of the photoelectric effect. Hailed for his pacifist stance. Received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.||Nina Ruge, journalist, TV presenter and novelist.|