Gott strafe England

During World War I, ""Gott strafe England" was a slogan used by the German Army (and also in Austria-Hungary). The phrase means "May God punish England". It was created by the German-Jewish poet Ernst Lissauer (1882–1937), in his poem "Hassgesang gegen England" (lit. "Hate song against England", better known as "Hymn of Hate"). In today's Germany, the term is all but forgotten, except by some far right wing organizations.

In the hysterical atmosphere brought on by World War I, Lissauer's "Hassgesang" became an instant success. Rupprecht of Bavaria, commander of the Sixth Army, ordered that copies be distributed among his own troops. The Kaiser was pleased enough to confer upon the author the Order of the Royal Eagle. An informative account of Lissauer and the "Hymn of Hate" can be found in Stefan Zweig's "The World of Yesterday".

Even despite the general atmosphere of condemnation against England for "causing the war", the "Hassgesang" was not without its critics. The "Frankfurter Zeitung" was bold enough to denounce the "impotent hatred that spits at us everywhere". With one or two exceptions it was not widely popular among Lissauer's fellow Jews, who had a tendency to identify with England's liberal tradition. The publicist Benjamin Segel said that the poem did not contain "as much as a spark of Jewish sentiment."

The phrase gave rise to the term "Strafing" and to the nickname "Strafer" being given to the British General William Gott in World War II.


The frequency of this slogan and similar oaths by British soldiers gave Sir John Collings Squire cause to write the following poem.

:"God heard the embattled nations sing and shout:'Gott strafe England!' and 'God save the King!':God this, God that, and God the other thing —:'Good God!' said God, 'I've got my work cut out!'"

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gott strafe England — Geflügelte Worte   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • strafe — (v.) 1915, punish, attack, picked up by British soldiers from Ger. strafen to punish (from P.Gmc. *stræf ), in slogan Gott strafe England May God punish England, current in Germany c.1914 16 at the start of World War I. The word used for many… …   Etymology dictionary

  • strafe — ► VERB ▪ attack with machine gun fire or bombs from low flying aircraft. ► NOUN ▪ an act of strafing. ORIGIN humorous adaptation of the German First World War catchphrase Gott strafe England may God punish England …   English terms dictionary

  • strafe — [strāf; ] chiefly Brit [, sträf] vt. strafed, strafing [< Ger phr. Gott strafe England (God punish England) used in World War I] to attack with gunfire; esp., to attack (ground positions, troops, etc.) with machine gun fire from low flying… …   English World dictionary

  • strafe — transitive verb (strafed; strafing) Etymology: German Gott strafe England may God punish England, German propaganda slogan during World War I Date: 1915 to rake (as ground troops) with fire at close range and especially with machine gun fire from …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • strafe — [strα:f, streɪf] verb attack with machine gun fire or bombs from low flying aircraft. noun an act of strafing. Origin early 20th cent.: humorous adaptation of the First World War German catchphrase Gott strafe England may God punish England …   English new terms dictionary

  • strafe — [[t]streɪf, strɑf[/t]] v. strafed, straf•ing, n. 1) mil to attack (ground troops, etc.) with fire from low flying airplanes 2) mil a strafing attack • Etymology: 1915; extracted from the G propaganda slogan Gott strafe England may God punish… …   From formal English to slang

  • strafe — /straf / (say strahf), /streɪf / (say strayf) verb (t) (strafed, strafing) 1. to attack (ground troops or installations) by aircraft with machine gun fire. 2. to bombard heavily. 3. Colloquial to punish. –noun 4. an attack or assault. {German;… …   Australian English dictionary

  • strafe — v. & n. 1 bombard; harass with gunfire. 2 reprimand. 3 abuse. 4 thrash. n. an act of strafing. Etymology: joc. adaptation of G catchword (1914) Gott strafe England may God punish England …   Useful english dictionary

  • England [2] — England (Gesch.). I. Älteste Zeit bis zur Ankunft der Römer 55 v. Chr. Die ältesten Nachrichten über die Bewohner E s stammen von Pytheas (320–330 v. Chr.) her, dessen Landsleute, die Massilier, auf dem Landwege eine Handelsverbindung mit Ictis… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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