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Why did Goering say 'You can call me Meyer'?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: May 21, 2013 
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Hermann Göring told his fellow Germans, "If planes drop bombs on Germany, you can call me MEYER. What does this mean?"


? ? ?

Dear Jeff,

Although it has been cited in several variations, the original quotation was given by Resichsmarschall Hermann Göring in a speech to his Luftwaffe in September 1939, after France and Britain declared war and the industrial Ruhr district fell within range of their aircraft. "No enemy bomber can reach the Ruhr," he assured them. "If one reaches the Ruhr, my name is not Göring. You can call me Meyer." Meyer and its other regional spellings is a very common name in Germany. Some sources, for added irony, later re-quoted his boast as "If one enemy bomb falls on Berlin, you can call me Meyer." The fact that Allied bombers did pound the Ruhr, however, was reason enough for Germans to start calling air raid sirens "Meyer's trumpets," among numerous other sarcastic references.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History



10 Responses to “Why did Goering say 'You can call me Meyer'?”

  1. 1
    Dave Ratner says:

    The true significance of Goring's statement was that Meyer (in all it's incarnations) was, to Germans, an obviously Jewish name.Thus calling him by a Jewish name would be the premier insult a Nazi leader would have to endure.(Goring had endured much teasing as a young man because his mother was allegedly in a relationship with a Jewish man.)

    • 1.1
      A German says:

      No, Jon is quite right.

      Meyer was and is a very common name in German, like Smith oder Johnson in English..

      It is also a common Figure of speech in German.

      An obviously Jewish name, if there are any, would be something like Goldstein or Tannenbaltt.

      • 1.1.1
        Sarah Clemens says:

        Actually, it is a surname of Old English, JEWISH, and GERMAN. So it would still be offensive to the Nazi leader.

  2. 2
    John says:

    Just look up Kurt Meyer. Not really someone you would call Jewish

  3. 3
    Arthur Wellesley says:

    I believe Dave is half-right. The character named 'Meyer' was originally created by the German-Jewish director Ernst Lubitsch (who later found great success in Hollywood) when he was still learning his trade as an actor in Germany. In the same way that the black actor Lincoln (Step'n Fetchit) Perry specialized in stereotypical lazy 'Negro' roles, Lubitsch portrayed a comic 'typical Jew' named Sally (short for Solomon) Meyer who was parsimonious, dishonest and adulterous. This popular series of silent comedy films ran during WW1 through the early 1920s. Goering would have been well aware of them, as would his audiences who definitely would have caught the reference.

  4. 4
    ECK says:

    Not all German places have the same history. Throughout most German speaking regions, Jews were well accepted during the middle ages when surnames were established for tax and other state purposes.

    Just as most descendants of American slaves bear the name of their family's former (last) master, Europeans often bear the name of their protector during serf times. These customs sporadically faded rather then momentously as with the American civil war.

  5. 5
    Mike says:

    Dave is correct. Some of you are obviously confused. Meyer was and is a typical Jewish name, though not as a surname, but rather as a first name. As in the character in the Great Gatsby, called Meyer Wolfsheim.

    As a last name it is as likely to be gentile as it is Jewish. Just as Rosenberg is probably considered to be Jewish, yet one of the highest ranking nazis was Alfred Rosenberg.

  6. 6 says:

    Sorry to have discovered this exchange so late. Let me add a smile (if in this cas it is possible).
    And the Meyer-Goering name gave an underground german joke.
    The word "Anlage" has two meanings
    Depot (as storage) and Defeat (loosing)
    And after massive bombing on the Third Reich territory went
    "Am jeden Strassen Ecke gibt ein Meyer Anlage".

    Translated as
    At every street corner you find a Meyer Anlage (see translation above).

  7. 7
    A German says:

    Meier is an very conman German name. Though there are some remote Jewish connections.

    An jeder Straßenecke gibt es eine Meyeranlage. That doesn't make sense in German. Anlage has lots of different meanings, something like loosing isn't one of them.

    I would also like to point out that people of Jewish faith have been more often than not social outcasts in the European past. Regarding the etymology of German surnames take a look at the Wikipedia.

  8. 8
    Arthur Wellesley says:

    I found a link to an example. Actually reasonably funny!

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