Which hand, trying to put us in chains like these, would not wither?

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by prr, May 13, 2009.

  1. prr Senior Member

    I came across a line by a German leader in the Versailles negotiations, who was explaining why he refused to sign the treaty after WWI. He said asked what hand, putting those chains on others, wouldn't wither. I am wondering if this was a reference to a German work of literature, or just an idiom, etc. Please see the thread in another sub-forum below. Sorry for the broken link but forum rules prohibit my posting links until I've got more posts. If someone else would like to post the actual link, feel free. Just remove the space after that first 'h':
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2009
  2. Kuestenwache Senior Member

    Well Scheidemanns exact words in German were: „Welche Hand müsste nicht verdorren, die sich und uns in solche Fesseln legte?“
    And this is neither an idiom nor a quote it was just his way to express that he would rather resign than sign.
  3. prr Senior Member

    Thanks. I was just wondering if there was any allusion there...
  4. Lykurg

    Lykurg Senior Member

    Your translation is not exact: The hand puts itself (/her owner) in chains, too.
    -> Which hand, putting us and itself in chains like these, would not wither?

    The difference matters, because with that it is clear that he does not curse* the makers of the Versailles treaty, but the German who signs it.

    *Actually it is not a curse, but the reference to ancient curses is quite obvious.
  5. cyanista

    cyanista законодательница мод

    It is conceivable that this might be an allusion to the Old Testament, 1 Kings 13:4. King Jeroboam's hand "dried up/withered/was paralysed" (in German "verdorrte") when he tried to punish the prophet that brought him a message from the Lord.

    This is pure speculation, though. For all I know there may have been dozens of similar references in literature and folklore.
  6. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Speculation it may be, but it is a good shot. :) You might be right you know.
  7. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    It is very likely so.
  8. Lykurg

    Lykurg Senior Member

    I thought of a more obscure source, the apocryphal "Gospel of James", in which a midwife's hand withers ("May my hand wither...") when she doubts the virginity of Mary (and is healed instantly when she repents).

    King Jeroboam is definetely more prominent. ;)
  9. terrisa New Member

    English, Chiu chow, cantonese mandrin, a little vietnamese
    Many Germans, including Hitler misunderstood Scheidemanns when he signed the treaty of Versailles. They thought that he had betrayed Germany, when in truth, he had no choice. It was either sign the treaty or Germany would be ripped into pieces, sort of like the scramble for Africa and Scheidemanns wanted to avoid this. When he signed the treaty of Versailles, he said this quote, which portrayed the emotions that he felt. The terms in the treaty of Versailles were brutal to the Germans. Therefore, this quote is saying that Scheidemanns feels guilty for putting his people in such chains by signing the treaty of Versailles. Great quote this is.

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