Can someone explain to me why a recent Der Spiegel cover shows a cartoon of Merkel riding a sausage?

I figure the cartoon alludes to some idiom or other. ("Es geht um die Wurst" doesn't quite fit the picture, IMO.)

  • 7
    Perhaps the "Wurst" as a metaphor for Germany, the Germans....? Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 18:41
  • 2
    @user1583209: Glaube ich auch, die Wurst steht für Deutschland. Wer Deutschland regiert, reitet die Wurst; die Wurst reiten = Deutschland regieren. In der Kanzlerfrage geht es so gesehen dann durchaus um die Wurst.
    – Pollitzer
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 19:55
  • a) Auf einer Wurst schwimmen geht ja schlecht. b) Auf Käse kann man nicht reiten. c) Unter der Wurst ist es zu eng. Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 1:38
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    Kjo, you might have been a bit quick in accepting the answer. Especially as there is no unambiguously correct answer.
    – Stephie
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 6:37

4 Answers 4


There's the verb "wursteln" (from "Wurst": sausage), which means to muddle along. There's the variation "durchwursteln" (to muddle through), which means that she's getting another four years through in a somehow unprofessional manner.

Just a possible interpretation.


In the end only the artist knows what is behind this cartoon, quite possibly it could be more than one meaning. I will try to unify the different answers. The word "Wurst" appears in various idioms which may or may not apply here:

  1. vor sich hinwursteln, durchwursteln, weiterwursteln : to muddle along. This could be seen as criticizing Merkel's style of politics, not following a clear line, somehow getting along....
  2. es geht um die Wurst : it is now or never. Could refer to important current events like the upcoming elections, the refugee crisis, etc
  3. es ist mir Wurst , Wurstigkeit: I couldn't care less. : This could be seen as criticizing Merkel for being indifferent to problems like the refugee crisis.
  4. "Wurst" as a metaphor for Germany or the Germans. While this metaphor is not established among the readers of Der Spiegel (mostly Germans), I am sure that Germans are aware about their sausage eating habits and that they could make this association (at least I did). In this case Merkel would be shown as riding/ruling Germany.

Looking at the cartoon, I see Merkel calmly riding the Wurst, as if having everything under control. That's why I would exclude "2" (es geht um die Wurst) from the list of possible answers, because in that case Merkel should appear more hectic/nervous.

One could probably make a point for all three remaining options. For instance for "4": Merkel sitting/riding on the Wurst suggesting that she is deciding the "direction" the Wurst is going...

For "3": From the drawing, Merkel appears somewhat aloof, not really conscious of her environment, supporting the "carelessness" interpretation.

For "1": For this interpretation I'd rather see Merkel doing something actively with a sausage or with sausages, but could perhaps also work with one big sausage.

The following also exist, but I have difficulty to apply them to this cartoon:

  • die beleidigte Leberwurst spielen : to be a sorehead
  • eine Extrawurst braten : special treatment.
  • Wurstfinger : stubby fingers
  • 1
    On a mechanical bull, you usually cannot decide the direction in which it is going ;)
    – Carsten S
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 18:16

Es ist mir wurst.

I couldn't care less.

Ist mir egal, ob ich schuld am Zustrom der Flüchtlinge bin, nun sind sie halt da. (Merkel)

Read up Wurstigkeit. Merkel is criticized for being indifferent on everything. And she rides a literal Wurst, the symbol of not caring.

  • 3
    I don't see that connection, it seems you are including a bit more personal opinion in the interpretation (or criticism) than called for.
    – Stephie
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 6:35
  • I also don't see this in the cartoon. Merkel looks a bit too active to me, rather like: "I do what I want with this Wurst/Germany"; Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 8:30
  • This cartoon targets the German public. In Germany, nobody identifies Germany with Wurst. See the iconic "Deutsche Wurst" fake ad campaign which rides that wave: google.de/…
    – Janka
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 12:10
  • @Janka Having a second look at the cartoon, I more and more agree with your answer as one possible interpretation. Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 15:44

Wenn man das Bild genau betrachtet, sieht man, dass die Wurst auf einem Gestell gelagert ist und hin und her schwingt. Diese Bewegung machen auch die schwarzen geschwungenen Linien an den Seiten deutlich. Es handelt sich also um eine Schaukelwurst! http://www.bm-online.de/aktuelles/markt-branche/schaukeln-auf-der-weisswurst/

  • Das Gerät hat deutlich mehr Ähnlichkeiten mit einem mechanischen Bullen als mit einer Schaukelpferdwurst, die, nach meiner Einschätzung, viel zu unbekannt ist, um als Anspielung für irgendwas herzuhalten. Die Frage wäre auch, für was. Dass Merkel jetzt die CSU im Griff hat? Dann hätte man die Wurst weiß gezeichnet. Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 12:33

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