Jedem das Seine

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The main gate of Buchenwald concentration camp, showing the motto Jedem das Seine.

"Jedem das Seine" (German pronunciation: [ˈjeːdəm das ˈzaɪ̯nə]) is a German proverb meaning "to each his own" or "to each what he deserves." It is a translation of the Latin phrase suum cuique.

For more than two centuries, suum cuique ("to each his own") had been the official motto of the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle and today is the motto of the German military police, Feldjäger.

During World War II the phrase was used by the Nazis as slogan displayed at the gate of Buchenwald concentration camp.

History[edit]

Jedem das Seine has been an idiomatic German expression for several centuries. For example, it is found in the works of Martin Luther and contemporaries.[1]

It appears in the title of a cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach, Nur jedem das Seine ("Let all be paid duly"), first performed at Weimar in 1715.[2]

Some nineteenth-century comedies bear the title Jedem das Seine, including works by Johann Friedrich Rochlitz[3] and Caroline Bernstein.[4]

An ironic twist on the proverb, "jedem das Seine, mir das Meiste" ("to each his own, to me the most"), can be traced to Carl Zuckmayer's 1931 play, The Captain of Köpenick.

In 1937, the Nazis constructed the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany. The motto Jedem das Seine was placed in the camp's main entrance gate.

Controversies[edit]

Several modern advertising campaigns in the German language, including ads for Nokia, REWE grocery stores, Burger King, and Merkur Bank have been marred by controversy after using the phrase Jedem das Seine or Jedem den Seinen.

An ExxonMobil ad campaign in January 2009 touted Tchibo coffee drinks at the company's Esso stores with the slogan Jedem den Seinen! The ads were withdrawn after protest from the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and a company spokesman said its advertising contractor had been unaware of the proverb's association with Nazism.[5]

In March 2009, a student group associated with the Christian Democratic Union used the slogan for an education campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), but later withdrew it due to public outcry.[6]

However, the German military police Feldjäger still uses the Latin variant suum cuique as its official motto. They refer to the Black Eagle Order instead of the Nazis, although the latter abused the motto in Buchenwald.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Luther, Martin (1569). Haußpostill Doc. Martin Luthers über die Sonntags unnd der fürnembsten Fest Evangelia durch das gantze Jar. Nürnberg: Ulrich Newber. p. 54. 
  2. ^ Spitta, Philipp (1899). Johann Sebastian Bach: his work and influence on the music of Germany, 1685-1750 1. London: Novello & Co. p. 555. 
  3. ^ Rochlitz, Friedrich (1803). Jedem das Seine. Lustspiel in einem Aufzuge. Züllichau: In der Darnmannschen Buchhandlung. 
  4. ^ Bernstein, Caroline (1832). Jedem das Seine! Original-Lustspiel in Versen und drei Aufzüge. ("E. Karoli," pseudonym). Iserlohn: W. Langewiesche. 
  5. ^ David Wroe, Petrol station used Nazi slogan on posters, The Telegraph, 14 January 2009.
  6. ^ jol, dpa/ddp Nazi Slogan: CDU stoppt Kampagne "Jedem das Seine", der Spiegel, 12 March 2009. (in German)

External links[edit]

  • Quotations related to Cicero at Wikiquote