Ordnung muss sein

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Ordnung muss sein (reformed) or Ordnung muß sein (traditional) is a German proverbial expression which translates as "there must be order". The idea of "order" is generally recognized as a key cliche for describing German culture.[1] Franz von Papen, for instance, cited it in 1932 as Frederick the Great's "classic expression".[2] As a slogan used by Paul von Hindenburg, it became "world famous" in 1930, according to The New York Times.[3] A longer version is contained in a mid-19th century collection of proverbs where the title is a Wellerism: Ordnung muß sein, sagte Hans, da brachten sie ihn ins Spinnhaus (in English: "Order must be, said Hans, as they took him to the madhouse)."[4]

Related German proverbs are Ordnung ist das halbe Leben,[4] literally "order is half of life", humorously extended in the antiproverb und Unordnung die andere Hälfte ("and disorder the other half"). Similarly, a proverb says Wer Ordnung hält, ist nur zu faul zum Suchen meaning "he who keeps order is just too lazy to spend his time searching".[citation needed]

There is an Ordnungsamt (Public Office for Order, Code enforcement) in every German municipality and city. Minor or petty offenses are called Ordnungswidrigkeit (meaning "offense, (or rather) contrarity to (public) order" or indeed the American (among others) similar concept of disorderly conduct).


  1. ^ Tomalin, Barry (2006). Germany - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture. Kuperard. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-85733-306-0.
  2. ^ Dodd, William J. (2007). Jedes Wort wandelt die Welt: Dolf Sternbergers politische Sprachkritik (in German). Wallstein. p. 143. ISBN 978-3-8353-0230-3.
  3. ^ Graudenz, John (9 November 1930). "GERMAN PILOTS COURSE IS A LONG, HARD GRIND; Work at Transport School From Which von Gronan Flew Is Arduous--25 in 1,000 Applicants Get In". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  4. ^ a b Simrock, Karl (1846). Die deutschen Sprichwörter (in German). Frankfurt am Main. p. 361f.