Fucking (// German: [ˈfʊkɪŋ] (listen)) is an Austrian village in the municipality of Tarsdorf, located in the Innviertel region of western Upper Austria. The village is 33 kilometres (21 mi) north of Salzburg, and is 4 km (2.5 mi) east of the Inn river, which forms part of the German border.
The frequently stolen traffic sign at the entrance to the village of Fucking.
|Named for||6th century nobleman named Focko|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Despite having a population of only 104 in 2005, the village has drawn attention in the English-speaking world for its place-name, which is spelled the same as an inflected form of the profane English-language verb "fuck". Its road signs are a popular visitor attraction, and they were often stolen by souvenir-hunting vandals until 2005, when the signs were modified to be theft-resistant.
It is believed that the settlement was founded in the 6th century AD by Focko, a Bavarian nobleman. The Austrian region during this century was mostly under the domain of the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths, and was populated by a mix of Christians and Pagans. The existence of the village was documented for the first time in 1070, and historical records show that some twenty years later, the lord was recorded in Latin as Adalpertus de Fucingin. The spelling of the name has evolved over the years; it is first recorded in historical sources with the spelling as Vucchingen in 1070, Fukching in 1303, Fugkhing in 1532, and in the modern spelling Fucking in the 18th century, which is pronounced with the vowel oo as in book. The ending -ing is an old Germanic suffix indicating the people belonging to the root word to which it is attached, thus Fucking means "(place of) Focko's people."
Fucking is most famous for its four traffic signs with its name on them, beside which tourists stop to have their photograph taken, owing to the profane English word with the same spelling.
British and American soldiers based in nearby Salzburg noticed the name after World War II, and began to travel to the village to have their photos taken beside the signs while striking various poses. The local residents, the Fuckingers, were considerably bemused, as they had not previously been aware of the meaning of their village's name when read as English. Since then, the number of visitors to Fucking has increased, with the occasional visit by a tour bus.
Popularity and notoriety
The village is especially popular with British tourists; as a local tour guide explained: "The Germans all want to see Mozart's house in Salzburg; the Americans want to see where The Sound of Music was filmed; the Japanese want Hitler's birthplace in Braunau; but for the British, it's all about Fucking." Augustina Lindlbauer, the manager of an area guesthouse, noted that the area had lakes, forests, and vistas worth visiting, but there was an "obsession with Fucking". Lindlbauer recalled how she had to explain to a British female tourist "that there were no Fucking postcards."
The road signs were commonly stolen as souvenirs—the only crime which has been reported in the village. It cost some 300 euros to replace each stolen sign, and the costs were reflected in the taxes that local residents pay. In 2004, owing mainly to the stolen signs, a vote was held on changing the village's name, but the residents voted against doing so. Tarsdorf municipality's mayor Siegfried Höppl stated that it was decided to keep the name as it had existed for 800 years, and further stated that "[e]veryone here knows what it means in English, but for us Fucking is Fucking—and it's going to stay Fucking."
After a spate of thefts, which included the theft of all four signs in one night, and a total of fifteen over a period of several years, in August 2005 the road signs were replaced with theft-resistant ones, welded to steel and secured in concrete to prevent theft. Mayor Höppl said that officials were fed up with English-speaking tourists stealing the signs, and noted that with the newly installed signs it would take all night to steal one. Höppl said that tourists, and the money they bring to the area, were welcome, but locals were sick of replacing the road signs. Commander Schmitzberger, the local police chief, also hinted at other avenues to stop what he calls "foreign criminals" from disturbing order in the village. Regarding these "other avenues", Schmitzberger stated, "[w]hat they are, I am not at liberty to disclose, but we will not stand for the Fucking signs being removed. It may be very amusing for you British, but Fucking is simply Fucking to us. What is this big Fucking joke? It is puerile."
A resident of the village, Josef Winkler, attempted to cash in on the village's fame by setting up a website on which he sold T-shirts featuring the village road signs, with the slogan "I like Fucking in Austria" printed on them. According to Winkler, they were selling well, and he was in negotiations with Maxim regarding possible promotions, but was forced to stop his venture after being shouted at and threatened in the street. Winkler said, "It was a bit of fun that didn't hurt anyone, but I found out that in this region you just can't do something like that. The whole thing became a real trial for me and I had to stop. People are very traditional here."
In July 2009, it was announced that the village would install CCTV cameras in an attempt to deter summertime tourists from filming themselves having sexual intercourse in front of the Fucking signs. A resident of the village said that installing cameras around the village may make tourists think twice and instead choose only to have a photograph taken in front of the sign. Mayor Franz Meindl states: "We don't find it funny. We just want to be left alone. We don't harm anyone and just want to live in peace." and added that he would prefer not to see the village featured in the press any more.
In 2009, the European Union's OHIM trademarks agency forbade a German brewery to market a beer called "Fucking Hell". It appealed, and was granted permission in January 2010 to market the beer. It claims the beer is named after the Austrian village Fucking and the German term for pale lager, Hell.
The similarity between Fucking and "fucking" has also resulted in the village being the butt of jokes in popular media. The Grand Tour featured the town in the 2017 episode "[censored] to [censored]", as part of a road trip throughout a number of towns in Europe whose names are similar to English-language vocabulary for sexual and romantic activity. In 2019, Norwegian broadcasting company NRK Sport produced a comedic tourism video on Fucking. Released on YouTube, the video consists of reporter and former Melodi Grand Prix Junior presenter Nicolay Ramm both advertising the village's attractions and listing off a large number of double entendres based around its name.
False rumours of name change
Rumours spread through international news media in April 2012 that villagers had been thinking about changing the name of the village or had actually voted to change it. The satirical website The Spoof! published a story on 18 April 2012 saying that the villagers were fed up and wanted to change the name. This minor satire was expanded upon and appeared on the same day in the Daily Mirror newspaper and elsewhere during the following week as a genuine news item, and was repeated by The Guardian and The Huffington Post, who reported that a vote had taken place to change the name to Fugging, but it was discovered that a village with that name already existed in the municipality of Obritzberg-Rust just west of Herzogenburg. The mayor of Fucking denied these rumours when contacted.
- "F***ing signs now theft-proof". Ananova. Archived from the original on 30 September 2005. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
The Austrian town of F***ing has erected theft-proof road signs embedded in concrete blocks. Officials acted because they were fed up with English-speaking tourists stealing them as souvenirs.
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- Harnden, Toby (28 August 2005). "'No, there are no F***ing postcards'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
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- Schmidt, Von Axel (24 March 2008). "Die Ortstafel als Souvenir". Augsburger Allgemeine (in German). Retrieved 7 November 2009.
- "Decision of the Fourth Board of Appeal in Case R 0385/2008-4 – Fucking Hell". The Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union. 21 January 2010.
- "German beer can call itself F**king Hell". Radio Netherlands. Hilversum. 19 March 2010. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
- "The Grand Tour Season 1 Episode 12". 27 January 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
- Ramm, Nicolay (24 February 2019). "WELCOME TO FUCKING". YouTube. NRK Sport. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
- "Fucking Village To Change Name". The Spoof!. 18 April 2012.
- "No Fugging chance: Fucking village told they can't be renamed Fugging because name is already taken". The Mirror. 18 April 2012.
- "Silly placenames: welcome to Dull, twinned with Boring". The Guardian. 25 April 2012.
- "Citizens Vote to Rename Austrian Town From F—ing to Fugging". Huffington Post. 20 April 2012.
- "Nothing profane about our name Austrian hamlet says". Reuters. 18 April 2012.
- (in German) Tarsdorf Municipality website
- "German Firm Wins Right to Make Beer Called 'Fucking Hell'." Spiegel Online. 29 March 2010.