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Context: In 2nd episode of the TV series Kleo, a ex-Stasi killer is being followed by a West Germany police officer. She decides to kill him, lure him into the street and is waiting for him sitting in a branch of a tree with a rifle in her hands. She then says to herself:

knicken, lochen, abheften, nach Hause gehen

which literally means "fold, punch, file, go to house". I don't understand what's the meaning of this. Is it a reference to a routine of an employee punching the clock in a company and then going home? If so, I'm not sure what "fold" means in this context because in my country employees do not fold anything when doing it.

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It's not punching a clock, but punching holes into the (paper) document to be filed. "Knicken" means to put a kink in the center of the paper that can then be aligned with the center of the hole puncher so that the holes are in the correct (symmetric) position.

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  • Do you understand why the ex-assassin would say that before killing someone? Is she comparing the person that she wants to kill with a paper to be filed? Commented Apr 24 at 21:05
  • @AlanEvangelista: I do not know the show in question, but at first glance, it sounds to me as if she's about to do something she is not feeling entirely confident about. Therefore, she might be trying to calm her nerves, by reminding herself to view the activity as a standard part of (her) work, just business as usual that, once finished, is just that - work done, and she can call it a day and go home. Commented Apr 25 at 20:44
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"Knicken, Lochen, Abheften" is a humorous and stereotypical description for the everyday work of an office worker or civil servant, especially of an Beamter. You could translate it as "Fold the paper, punch holes into it, file it away". The implication is that this about all those people ever do in their jobs.

See for example the article on the new digitalized Bauantrag (application for a building permit) that is titled Der digitale Bauantrag: Knicken, lochen, abheften. Or the union website that titles an article on the question whether an employee can demand that their reference has no punch holes in it with Knicken, lochen, heften – Umgang mit dem Arbeitszeugnis. Or the merchandise with the joke Beamtendreikampf - Knicken, lochen, abheften. "Dreikampf" is a sport event where three disciplines are combined, like powerlifting or triathlon. The, more or less highbrow, joke is that the three disciplines for civil servants are... you probably get the idea.

When a killer (or ex-killer) says "knicken, lochen, abheften, nach Hause gehen", I'd read it as something like "I could have had an easy office job, but nooo", or maybe she's (jokingly) longing for such a job.

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    Another interpretation of the statement by the killer could be that killing the police officer is just boring everyday standard routine for her.
    – quarague
    Commented Apr 26 at 12:42
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    ...or that it is easy and quick work, as in: "I have to do only this one little thing, then I can go home."
    – ccprog
    Commented Apr 26 at 16:58
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I dont know the term itself (native speaker), so i guess its a very rare sentence. But in the context it means probably: Just get the job done!

She probably has the words as kind of instructions/ mantra in her head while repeating the monotonous steps required when handling paperwork.

So its kind of black humor or ironic reference to apply it in that specific context.

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Knicken is a slang expression for folding something to throw it in the paper bin. And forget about it.

Kannste knicken!

Das kannst du vergessen!

Lochen, abheften is a picture for putting something to the files, never to be thought about again. And nach Hause gehen means to go home. And in this context also to forget what happened.

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  • Im Zusammenhang mit "lochen, abheften" ist eher gemeint, dass man das Papier, um es möglichst genau in der Mitte zu lochen, einmal faltet und am Lochrand zusammenpresst, um an dem sichtbaren Knick dann den Locher, der in der Mitte eine Nase hat, zu justieren. Aufwändigere Locher haben zwar eine Schiene mit Anschlag, aber sind seltener, wohl weil sie dadurch unhandlicher sind. Also das Papier soll gerade nicht in den Müll, sondern ins Archiv, bzw. den Ordner, und es ist eine Routine aus drei kleinen Schritten. Commented Apr 27 at 15:54

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