From Der Spiegel:

Auf ostdeutsches Drängen hin führte Prag scharfe Kontrollen an der Grenze zu Ungarn ein.

The sentence seems to be complete without the hin:

Upon East German pressure, Prague introduced stricter control at the border to Hungary.

What is the hin doing here?

  • The English translation also uses a composite. – user6191 Oct 13 '14 at 3:22

The word hin belongs to the phrase auf XYZ hin.
This construction is a circumposition/Zirkumposition* and its meaning is because of XYZ, as a result of XYZ, following XYZ, upon XYZ.
Without the word hin this phrase would not have the same meaning (if any in your sentence).

* That is a preposition that is split up and wrapped around the noun.

The construction auf XYZ hin is very hard to find in a dictionary; I haven't found it in my printed Duden nor in an online resource. However, you might know/find in a dictionary the related prepositional adverbs daraufhin (thereupon/hereupon) and woraufhin (whereupon). The former is a substitution** for auf es/das hin the latter for auf was hin which wouldn't be standard German.

** This substituion is the analogue of wofür instead of für was and dafür instead of für das/es and many more cases where pronouns meet prepositions.


The expression „auf … hin“ is a fixed construction. Neither „auf “ nor „hin“ may be omitted. In contrast to simple prepositions, the two parts of a circumposition such as „auf … hin“, „um … willen“, or „von … wegen“ frame the nominal expression (here: „ostdeutsches Drängen“).

„auf … hin“ can have various meanings:

auf meine Anweisung/meinen Rat hin → on or in response to my instructions/advice

auf seine Bitte/seinen Anruf/eine Annonce hin → at his request/in response to his [telephone] call/an advertisement

selbst/auch auf die Gefahr hin, einen Fehler zu begehen → even at the risk of making a mistake

etw. auf eine spätere Erweiterung hin planen → plan sth. with a view to future expansion

(examples taken from Duden-Oxford – Großwörterbuch Englisch. 3. Aufl. Mannheim 2005)


The "doubled" preposition "auf A hin" (A stands for a noun that fits as in "auf die Gefahr hin, dass ...") is a bit difficult to explain. I have looked at duden.de, entry hin, and I think duden.de's attempt to make it understandable ist not worth much for those who learn German.

DWDS, hin, is a bit better, they speak of "Kausalzusammenhang", but I doubt that a learner will be able to handle the preposition "bracket" auf A hin properly with this hint.

I would not say that

Auf die Gefahr hin, dass ich mich wiederhole, möchte ich darauf hinweisen, dass ..."

is a connection of cause.

I think such special prepositions should have an own entry in dictionaries with sufficient examples as

auf die Gefahr hin, auf sein Bitten/Drängen hin, auf diese Anzeichen hin etc.

"auf" alone would not be sufficient in the above examples. I compare these German compound prepositions to English ones of the type on to/onto/unto and others of this type. English has both parts of the preposition before the noun, German puts one part before and the other part after the noun.

There are other double prepositions such as auf A zu, zu A hin, von A her etc. I don't even know whether there is a standard term for this type of prepositions.

  • There is a term for this type of prepositions: Circumpositions/Zirkumpositionen. Cf. my answer. – Chris Oct 13 '14 at 13:49
  • @Cris - Maybe this term is used but I would prefer a term that contains the word preposition and an indication that there is a second part in post position - perhaps something like "embracing prepositions". – rogermue Oct 13 '14 at 15:53
  • Calling it a preposition would be a misnomer, in my opinion since pre-positions should be positioned before the noun, post-positions should be positioned after the noun, and circum-positions are positioned "around" the noun. Personally, I like this nomenclature :-) – Chris Oct 13 '14 at 16:11

No the "hin" is needed here it comes with the word "Drängen". You could rephrase it like: "Wieso hat Prag scharfe Kontrollen an der Grenze zu Ungarn eingeführt" --> they were forced to/ Sie wurden da-zu/hin gedrängt.

  • That's not correct, the hin belongs to the auf etwas hin part. The Drängen is irrelevant for the word hin. – Chris Oct 12 '14 at 22:47

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