Do You Want to Enter with Herr Hitler?

Why would anyone want to enter only with Herr Hitler? A secret entrance for the World War II leader? Would anyone want to use the entrance if his only companion was Mr. Hitler? This sign begs for more questions than it is supposed to answer.

This was a sign at a castle with a provided guided tour. Somehow the translation got bogged down in unnecessary details, and a 4-word sentence, became a five-word error. There are some places where the implication of the sign would have been catastrophic, from an international and political viewpoint.

This was a translation lost in context. Or rather, a translation fixed upon one word in the sentence: Führer. The infamous Nazi leader Adolph Hitler was called “mein Führer,” which translates to “my guide” or “my leader.” If you know only enough about the German language to understand “Führer” as referring to the World War II Nazi leader, then you should not be translating signs, especially signs like this one.

The sign was meant to be a marker of some sort, and might have implied the direction or route for a guided castle sightseeing tour. The translation was off base and somehow wound up implying an entrance only for Mr. Hitler. This is a big error in translation, as it made use of cultural clues, without understanding the context of the sign.

On closer inspection, this does not seem like a sign, which a native German speaker had translated. For one, post-World War II Germany abhors Hitler. For another, the context was to use “with a guide” for “with Führer.” Unfortunately, there are no other references on the Internet regarding where this sign was posted, and when.

Modern translation understands these sensibilities and tries to put the proper context within. In today’s world of instant everything, the niceties of international courtesies, and respect go a long way, when choosing the right word.

Image credit – Mistranslations via Pinterest

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