One of the major difficulties preventing the wide use of germanium (epi or bulk) as a semiconductor material for gate stack devices is the poor stability of its oxide, leading to reproducibility and reliability issues. In contrast to silicon, the nature and thickness of Ge "native" oxides are history dependent, and most phases of germanium oxide are water-soluble, As a result, the procedures for passivating Ge surfaces with hydrogen (HF last) are more complex and less forgiving. We have used infrared absorption spectroscopy and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to investigate the nature of oxidized and H-terminated Ge surfaces. The GeO2, GeO and GeC phases have been identified and quantified as a function of processing conditions. The stability of the H-terminated surfaces has been examined in air and in controlled environments. The H-passivated Ge surfaces are found to be much less stable in air than H-terminated Si surfaces.