Publication fees as a revenue source for open access publishing hold a prominent place on the agendas of researchers, policy makers, and academic publishers. This study contributes to the evolving empirical basis for funding these charges and examines how much German universities and research organisations spent on open access publication fees. Using self-reported cost data from the Open APC initiative, the analysis focused on the amount that was being spent on publication fees, and compared these expenditure with data from related Austrian (FWF) and UK (Wellcome Trust, Jisc) initiatives, in terms of both size and the proportion of articles being published in fully and hybrid open access journals. We also investigated how thoroughly self-reported articles were indexed in Crossref, a DOI minting agency for scholarly literature, and analysed how the institutional spending was distributed across publishers and journal titles. According to self-reported data from 30 German universities and research organisations between 2005 and 2015, expenditures on open access publication fees increased over the years in Germany and amounted to € 9,627,537 for 7,417 open access journal articles. The average payment was € 1,298, and the median was € 1,231. A total of 94% of the total article volume included in the study was supported in accordance with the price cap of € 2,000, a limit imposed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as part of its funding activities for open access funding at German universities. Expenditures varied considerably at the institutional level. There were also differences in how much the institutions spent per journal and publisher. These differences reflect, at least in part, the varying pricing schemes in place including discounted publication fees. With an indexing coverage of 99%, Crossref thoroughly indexed the open access journals articles included in the study. A comparison with the related openly available cost data from Austria and the UK revealed that German universities and research organisations primarily funded articles in fully open access journals. By contrast, articles in hybrid journal accounted for the largest share of spending according to the Austrian and UK data. Fees paid for hybrid journals were on average more expensive than those paid for fully open access journals.