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German History Bloopers

Inadvertent Humor from Student Papers & Exams

page compiled by Harold Marcuse
(professor of German history at UC Santa Barbara)
Harold Marcuse homepage

begun January 5, 2007, updated 3/16/2020

19th Century
20th Century
World History


I come across these every now and then, and feel it's a shame to let them disappear into nothingness. Some are of course just typos, but still pretty funny.

As Richard Lederer, author of many books on the inadvertent butchering of the English language, put it: "One of the fringe benefits of being an English or History teacher is receiving the occasional jewel of a student blooper in an essay. It is truly astounding what havoc students can wreak upon the chronicles of the human race."

19th Century Germany (back to top)

  • "Germany was a nation composed of individual states ruled in a feudalistic manor."
  • "The Wars of Liberation were a struggle to throw off the yolk of Napoleonic hegemony." (1993) [one of my all-time favorites--love that yellow yolk running over Europe]
  • "The Wartburg Festival ... in 1817 ... also marked the 300th anniversary that Martin Luther nailed his theisis to the church wall." [good thing he didn't nail his whatsis too]
  • "People were criticizing the rulers at this festival because they had failed to fulfill their promises that 'they had made under duress to establish liberal constitutions and a untied Germany.'"
    [no wonder the Germans came unglued a century later]
  • "Bismarck felt that his heart belonged in Pomerania, however, his mother deprived him of this and caused angst for the countryside. His later years in school showed that he was a big fish being held down by a small pond."
    [And people say Hitler had a screwed-up childhood! The student continued:]
    "It was not until 1847, after his marriage to Johanna von Puttmaker [Puttkammer], that we begin to see Bismarck's steps into his turbulent political life." [I guess women golfers fuel men's political ambitions.]
  • "As tempting as becoming the king of a united Germany was, Frederick William ultimately decided to support the conservative cause and help the princelings in Germany deal with the revolutionaries. His action helped to doom the cause of the revolutionaries and delayed the creation of a unified Germany until Bismarck's genus brought Germany into being." [That new genus of germano sapiens might explain a future generation of Germans' fear of interbreeding.]
  • "When Germany began building a larger navy, Britain responded by building giant hugenauts." [they were even bigger than the Dreadnaught]
  • "I am working under the guidance of Hegel's dialectic but proceed one step further." [I wonder whether that counts as synthetic intelligence?]

World War I & Weimar Republic

  • "This means that the importance of political and social reform was never far from the front of discussions e.g. reforming the Prussian electrical system." (10/2013)[they really got a charge of the Prussian 3-class voting system!]
  • "In 1925 President Friedrich Ebert died in office of skeptic shock." (6/2019)[he just couldn't believe that he had appendicitis]

Nazism (back to top)

  • "... the many individuals in the Third Reich who stood by as Jewish businesses were ram sacked ..." (3/2020). The Jews weren't sheep, but the Nazis did behave like rams!
  • "Hans Frank created the ever-so-popular myth that Hitler was a descendant of a Jew, who had philanthropies with his grandmother in 1836." (2/2008)[That was one Jewish charitable gift that later backfired.]
  • "How could Germany, a modern industrialized nation, resort to such barbarism and wonton destruction in the 20th century?" (5/2010)[Easy: they really hated Chinese takeout!]
  • "Schleicher and Hindenburg were worried that Papen would use his power to reform the constitution and make Germany an authoritative state." [at least it would know what it was doing]
  • "The German people used the Versailles Treaty as an escape goat all throughout the 1920s." [from a German student whose English was pretty good, but obviously not perfect]
  • "Roehm was a captain in the Barbarian army who patronized Hitler." (6/2010) [I knew the Bavarians were bad, but were they really so bad as to humor little Adolf?]
  • "As a result of hyperinflation the Reichsmack crashed." (3/2000) [Thus: never overinflate your truck's tires. I wonder whether it hit any of those people pushing wheelbarrows of money?]
  • "The essay argues that women in Germany had a bad wrap from the get-go." [Actually, they only had bad wrap after Christo used up all the good stuff on the Reichstag in 1995]
  • "Women protested the arrest of their local priest by threatening to refuse work and bare children for the fatherland." [oh, those patriotic pedophiles--put diapers on them!]
  • "Laws were passed to sterilize unfit members of society to prevent them from breading into mainstream German populations." [no wonder German bread is so good]
  • "Tubal litigation for women and vasectomy for men were the common procedures." [I wonder whether women got it done in court?]
  • "The Nuremberg Laws included no sexual intercourse between Germans or Jews." [So without cloning, the master race would have died out.]
  • "On November 10-11, 1938 the Nazis burned down Jewish synegogs, luted Jewish stores, and shattered store fronts." (3/2012)[And they say that Nero fiddled while Rome burned]
  • On the investigation of crimes committed by psychiatrists: "Alexander interviewed many individuals and poured over many German institutes, like the German Institute for Psychiatry ... ." (3/2012). [There was a lot to cry about in their records, but it wasn't spilled milk.]
  • On Holocaust historian Herbert Steinhouse's analysis of the historical accuracy of the film Schindler's List: "Since Steinhouse's mother was a causality of the Nazi regime, he found little comfort or truth in a 'good German tale'." (3/2000) [Wow, did she boost Hitler to power single-handedly?] Or was it spell check gone wild?--Another:
  • "In the Nuremberg Trials the top Nazi officials responsible for 6 million Jewish causalities are put to death or imprisoned." [Oh the poor Nazis--Jews were still causing problems for them.]
  • "During and after the war the Germans were considered a plight on humanity." [And I always thought that the plight of Jews under German occupation was bad.]
  • "Hitler was a war-mongrel who was also a racist and known for starting World War II and the Holocaust." [Imagine if Hitler had been a pure-bred pitbull!]
  • "As the Nazis launched their champagne against the Jews, there were those who helped the Jews escape prosecution." (5/04) [Nothing like a little alcohol to distract a lawyer.]
  • Both Hans and Sophie Scholl were not phased by death They felt death was just another phase in life." [It is important to do a life-cycle analysis when deciding whether to resist]
  • "Hans Frank ... created the ever-so-popular myth that Hitler was a descendant of a Jew, who had philanthropies with his grandmother in 1836." (2/08)[charitable chap, old granddad]
  • "One story in Hans Frank's death row memoir is the popular myth that Hitler was a descendant of a Jew, who had sex escapades with his grandmother in 1836." (3/08)[as if there weren't enough Aryan Brunhildes around for Jews to seduce]
  • "The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century." Vice President Dan Quayle, 9/15/88 [ok, he wasn't my student, but this was too good to leave out]
  • "While the [Farm Hall] transcripts of captured German scientists should be read with some level of weariness, their conversations reveal no plot on their part to conceal information." (3/14) [Just a bunch of boring scientists talking geek-speak]
  • "The Holocaust is also unique, because it targeted individuals who truly believed they were citizens of the lands they inhibited." (3/14)[and if they hadn't been so inhibiting they wouldn't have been persecuted]

Post-1945 Germany (back to top)

  • "After WWII Germany was divided into four occupational zones. " (4/11)[one for the doctors, one for dentists, one for lawyers, one for desk murderers?]
  • "Economic wise, Germany had a large amount of debt that had to be paid back to the ally powers though retributions." (4/11)[Makes one wonder who's getting back at whom]
  • "Morgenthau hated the Germans because he was Jewish and called for a plan to pasturize Germany." (3/04) [You know how Jews hate having bacteria in their fields]
  • "Now how would real guilt be determined and respirations made, and to whom? Were Ford, GM/Opel, Deutsche Bank, and Degesch to pay equally?" [I bet there was a lot of heavy breathing in some corporate boardrooms while that was discussed.]
  • "Walter Ulbright [sic] launched a new system to further vamp up industrial growth, setting quotas and price subsidies." (3/14) [damn those bloodsuckers in industry]
  • "The building of the Berlin Wall served as a pain in Germany's side." [But it was better than hemorraging to death]
  • "Willy Brandt was important in German history for his Osteopolitik." (3/00) [It cured the Germans' chronic problem of brittle bones.]
  • In his autobiography Willy Brandt pours out his values in a steam of consciousness. (6/2019)[He was one hot thinker!]
  • "Honecker, although loyal to Soviet ideals, led legislation that elevated some of the tensions between the major European countries by helping to create the Berlin Agreement and the Basic Treaty." (3/14)[I guess agreeing to disagree got on their nerves]
  • "The Red Army Faction terrorists that challenged Germany's stability in the '70s found rot in the Grand Coalition's neutered political environment." (3/04) [Well, when West Germany's two big parties got together, at least they couldn't beget any children!]
  • "Jörg Haider is a well-recognized right-winged political head." [that's why he flies off the handle so easily]
  • "Likewise many of Honecker's policies such as 'consumer socialism' failed to deal with many of the problems in East German society, and in the opinion of Corey Ross [2002, p. 93] exasperated the decline in the East." (3/14) [the decline was so frustrated it couldn't wait any longer]

World History survey (back to top)

  • "During the long rein of Saddam Hussein he kept the Baghdad Jews under tight control." (5/2003) [If he had a long rein, did he also use a short leash?]
  • "Gandhi feasted until the killing stopped." (After the partition of India/Pakistan.)(6/08) [What a bloodthirsty glutton!]
  • "A very strong belief that adheres to the Catholic faith is sex, only after marriage." [And priests aren't allowed to marry, so there you have it.]
  • "Now didn't you get married to get laid? Well, if not, that's because you have become part of a paradigm shift in which premarital sex has been accepted and now considered the norm." [this was a female student]
  • "Trying unsuccessfully each day of every year to harvest the fields was one of Gagliano's [a village] oldest traditions." [And I thought Sisyphus had it hard!]
  • "Copernicus proposed that the Earth rotated daily around the sun." [So that's why they were so dizzy in the Middle Ages.]
  • "Africa, although much was useless dessert, was colonized very swiftly." [No comment.]
  • On the origins of World War I: "With both states competing for markets, the steaks were high." [So did they have to settle for pork chops?]
  • The Feldmanns lived together for a while off PHC in West Los Angeles in a house made famous by a 1930s comedy reel featuring two men attempting to lift a large piano up an absorbent amount of stairs. (4/2008)[At least the bloody piano didn't mess up the rest of the carpet!]

Links to Blooper Pages (back to top)

2007: 433 page views; 354 entry, 358 exit

page created by Harold Marcuse on January 5, 2007; last update: see page header
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