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At work I often hear the greeting:

"Frohes Schaffen!"

Some time ago I was told that I should not use "Frohes Schaffen" as it is supposed to come from Nazi propaganda.

Ever since then I feel uncomfortable when I hear it. My research was unable to find any conclusive reference for that but a Google Ngram indeed shows a worrysome temporal accumulation:

enter image description here

Does anybody know any other reference for a possible Nazi origin of "Frohes Schaffen!"? May it be that it has lost any possible Nazi connotation? Or was I told wrong as this salutation has another origin?

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The NGram also shows that its peak usage was from 1945 to 1960, even though it came to existence twenty years earlier. –  OregonGhost Dec 6 '11 at 12:22
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2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Summary: Books with the title "Frohes Schaffen" have been published by an Austrian social-democratic publisher of children's books since 1925, so a Nazi origin seems unlikely. It's still quite possible that they used and popularized that phrase later, though.


There seems to be a book series that was published at least since 1925 with the title Frohes Schaffen. Das Buch für Jung und Alt., copies of which can be found on eBay or in second-hand bookshops. From these sources, it's hard to tell which political those books followed (if any). I think that in pre-Nazi times, a publisher with a name like "Deutscher Verlag für Jugend und Volk" would not automatically be thought of as right-wing. Edit to add: see below for more information about the publisher, which is from Austria.

If these books were popular in the 20s and 30s, there's a fair chance though that the Nazi government would have used them to spread their propaganda after 1938.

Since the links I have provided above are somewhat short-lived, I've extracted the relevant information about those books.

From eBay:

enter image description here

FROHES SCHAFFEN

Das Buch für Jung und Alt

Band 2

FROHES SCHAFFEN ist ein Jahrbuch des Weltgeschehens - berichtet wird, reich bebildert mit Fotos und gezeichneten Illustrationen, über Reiseabenteuer, Neues aus Forschung und Technik, Kunst, Kultur und auch ein wenig politisches Geschehen. Ein höchst lebendiges Stück Zeitgeschichte aus den 20er Jahren

mit zahlr. Abb.

Gebundene Ausgabe, Deutscher Verlag für Jugend und Volk, Wien, Leipzig, New York, 1925

From hood.de:

enter image description here

Frohes Schaffen - Das Buch für Jung und alt, Prof. Dr. Ernst Baum, Deutscher Verlag für Jugend und Volk, Jahr, copyr. 1925, Seiten, 500, gut erhalten, Ecken gestoßen, Einband angestaubt, 7437, allumfassend informierendes Buch mit zahlreichen Abbildungen, Leinen 18,5x26 cm, Nr.17458

Edit to add some information about the publisher:

A private website about Austrian children's books between 1900 and 1960 has this information:

Der "(Deutsche) Verlag für Jugend und Volk" wurde im Jahre 1921 von der Stadt Wien gegründet, um die sozialdemokratisch ausgerichtete Schulreform der ersten Republik (Einheitsschule), deren führender Organisator Otto Glöckel war, durch ein entsprechendes Angebot an Lehrbüchern sowie Kinder und- und Jugendbücher zu unterstützen.

Turns out that publisher is still in existence (!):

[...] Derzeit sind wir mit allen Kräften im Bereich der Bildung umfassend tätig. Unsere in Jahrzehnten gewachsene Kompetenz liegt auf dem Gebiet der Volks- und Sonderschulen. [...]

From the history and mission statement of this publisher (which is strongly social-democrat), I'd very much doubt that this was a right-wing publication, at least not before the Anschluß of Austria in 1938 and the subsequent Gleichschaltung of the media.

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I don't know whether it originated from Nazi Propaganda, and honestly, I don't care. This never even crossed my mind. Even if it did, as you say, it seems to have lost all connotation.

I don't think we should let evil people dictate what words to use and which ones to avoid; we should not let them monopolize harmless phrases like this one. Indeed, I think using these words in an ordinary fashion can help us overcome (not forget) our historical burden.

We also use words like "Autobahn" etc. every day, even though the concept (and word?) was popularized during the Nazi regime (though they were not invented by the Nazis).

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Was about to write similar things (up to the Autobahn example (; ) in a comment. –  OregonGhost Dec 6 '11 at 12:23
    
@OregonGhost Yeah, I was deliberating making this a comment. If enough people want me to convert this answer to a comment, I'll do that. –  fzwo Dec 6 '11 at 12:53
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