Misquotation: ‘Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my pistol”

The comment is often attributed to the Nazi leader Hermann Goering, but the origin of the line is found in the 1933 play Schlageter by the German dramatish Hanns Johst. In the play, a character says, ‘Wenn ich Kultur höre… entsichere ich meinen Browning! [Whenever I hear the word culture…I release the safety-catch of my Browning!]’ Schlageter was a nationalist play based on the life of Albert Leo Schlageter, who was court-martialled by the French and shot in 1923 for taking part in active resistance to French occupation of the Ruhr. It was popular with the National Socialist regime, which may help explain the attribution to Goering. 

From the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. For other previous common misquotations, take a look at our Misquotation of the Week feature.

Image credit: Alfred Rosenberg (backwards on stage), principal Nazi intellectual, is handing a NSDAP art prize (Preises der NSDAP für die Kunst) to Hanns Johst, expressionist playwriter and Nazi culture official in Nürnberger Operahaus. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


johste with those wing caps.