Ha ha ha HA! Silly Americans (& other Non-Germans)! You think you have it hard with your tiny, little up-or-down quibbles.
If you think the issue is putting down the seat, try living here for a year, my friends. Just try. Would you like to know what you'll run into?
Vehement (and I mean vehement, HUGE) Anti-Pissing-While-Standing Sentiments. There is an entire movement in Germany against men peeing while standing up. Now, I've heard this type of thing before. My grandmother, for example, wanted my grandfather to sit while he pissed so that he would keep the toilet seat clean. OK. Did she harass him? No. Did she force him? No!
BUT in GERMANY, Gentlemen, it is something altogether different.
I first started to notice this all one day while peeing at my girlfriend's house. She asked me if I had stood up. I just laughed. Figuring, "hey, she's a feminist - maybe it's some obtuse joke that I'm missing because of the language." Because high and wide, I, too, am a feminist. So, time went by, she mentioned it again. Uh. Then again. The jokes were decidedly not funny. Finally, she told me that she had gotten her last boyfriend to sit while peeing (after several years, but nevertheless... poor guy). I told her I would think about it (we broke up within three months).
So, I thought, maybe she was just a little quirky about the whole bit. Wrong.
I babysat for a single mother friend. She had just moved in with three of our mutual male friends. Anyway, I watched the kid, watched TV, waited. When she got home, all was good, "thanks," "no problem," I left.
Days later I heard, she had yelled at the three guys (remember this was their place, she had just moved in) for over THIRTY minutes about who had left the toilet seat up. Since that, of course, was a sign for standing while peeing. No one thought of me until later and then all was quietly forgotten. But, had I been there, dear reader, who knows if I would be alive to day to tell the tale.
But, it goes even farther. There are stickers, post cards, signs, email messages, buttons, probably even books and newspapers about it ("Mr. Johnson in 3A this morning was caught peeing while standing. News at 11"). It's absurd. And violent. And effective.
The men here comply for the most part. And, you know, I too probably would have no problem with peeing sitting down, but when you find yourself in such a completely hostile environment, you really just have to rebel.
So, my compatriots, a warning to you all: if you come to Germany, don't just put the seat back down...
LET NO ONE SEE YOU PEE!