AP Photo / Christof Stache

Dr Frank Brunssen has just published an article that investigates how the Germans have been trying since the Second World War to come to terms with the linguistic legacy of the Third Reich.

Even more than sixty years on, there is still no consensus among present day Germans on how to deal with contaminated words and phrases inherited from the National Socialist dictatorship.

This article looks especially at the phrase ‘Jedem das Seine’ or ‘To Each His Own’, which is an age-old formula of justice. It was once the motto of the Prussian state, but later mutated into a formula for death when the Nazis cast it into the main gate of the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1938.


Dr Brunssen is the SOCLAS Director of the Year Abroad. His research focuses on contemporary German literature and history, with a particular specialism on Nobel Prize-winner Günter Grass. He is currently working on the significance of ‘moralische Instanzen’ or ‘moral authorities’ in recent German history.

Frank Brunssen, ‘Jedem das Seine’: Zum Umgang mit nationalsozialistisch belasteten Wörtern und Wendungen in Deutschland seit 1945’, Oxford German Studies 39 (2010), 290-311.