German word of the day: Der Schlussstrich

German word of the day: Der Schlussstrich
Merkel at Auschwitz in December 2019. Photo: DPA
This word is the subject of some debate in Germany regarding historical memory of the Holocaust and World War II.

What does it mean?

Der Schlussstrich means the “final stroke” or the “final line.” Der Schluss translates to “the conclusion, end, or close,” and Der Strich means “the line.”

The phrase “eine Schlussstrich ziehen“ means to consider the matter closed.

How is it used?

The word can be used in many contexts, but it is often associated with Germany’s remembrance of World War II and the Holocaust.

German President Walter Steinmeier and his wife attended commemoration ceremonies at Auschwitz-Birkenau on Monday, which marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. Photo: DPA. 

Many voices in Germany since 1945 have insisted that a Schlussstrich must never be drawn under the past or remembrance of the Holocaust. Others have called for a Schlussstrich in regard to Germany’s culture of remembrance. 

To draw a line under the past in this context would be to suggest that it is time for Germans to distance themselves from this history.

One in favor of a Schlussstrich might suggest that Germans ought to 'move on' from their past atrocities to focus on other elements of national identity. 

The debate regarding whether or not it is necessary, or even possible, to draw a Schlussstrich under the past has been an important part of German politics and social discourse since 1945. 

75th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation

On Monday, individuals around the world remembered the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

READ ALSO: 'It should never happen again': Auschwitz survivors mark liberation 75 years on

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the concentration camp in Poland on December 6th of last year and said: “Einen Schlussstrich kann es nicht geben,” or in English, “No line can ever be drawn under this past.”

Photos on the wall where German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke at Auschwitz in December 2019. Photo: DPA.

This call to continue remembering the Holocaust and its victims has been echoed this week by survivors and world leaders surrounding the anniversary.

 Example Sentences:

Mama will einen Schlussstrich unter die ganze Sache ziehen.

Mom wants to draw a final line under the whole thing.

Merkel sagt immer, dass es unter dem Holocaust keinen Schlussstrich geben darf.

Merkel always says that there must be no final line under the Holocaust. 


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