The Hans Hummel memorial is a fountain that stands in tribute to Hans Hummel, a Hamburg water carrier who lived during the 18th and 19th century in Germany. It features a sculpture as it’s centerpiece showing Hummel carrying buckets of water while adults and children are teasing him.
Before the local water system was introduced in Hamburg in 1848, Wassertragen (‘carrying water’) was a popular profession. One of these Wasserträger eventually became something of a local legend.
Born Johann Heinrich Bentz in 1787, people came to call him Hans Hummel and he was known to be a kind and funny man who was much-loved by local children for his kind nature and thrilling war stories. Sadly, the water carrier Hummel lost his job in 1848 and died in a poorhouse six years later.
The legend that grew around him painted him as a grumpy and ill-tempered man who people would taunt by calling out ‘Hummel, Hummel’ as he passed by with his filled buckets knowing he could not stop his work. Thus his only response was to yell back, ‘Mors, Mors!’ a phrase in the local Low German dialect of Plattdeutsch, which translates roughly to ‘Kiss my ass!’
The saying became a popular salute in Hamburg. When HSV (one of the city’s two popular football teams) scores a goal, the stadium speaker calls the name of the scorer, then ‘Hummel, Hummel!’ and the crowd replies with ‘Mors, Mors!’