When doing sightseeing in Göttingen, you’ll most probably start and end your tour at the Gänseliesel. Maybe you’ve noticed people kissing the bronze-cast girl and putting flowers on top of the fountain. Tradition has it that postgraduates must do this after receiving their doctor’s degree. In the beginning of 20th century, students also used to kiss it just after enrolment. Göttingen’s police didn’t like the ritual at all, because the kissing procedure was often done at night time accompanied by loud partying… Just like today’s O-Phase (Orientation Days), if you think about it.
Anyway, the police forbid further kissing of the Gänseliesel, but the students didn’t accept the new rule at all. At some point, the law student Georg Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck was punished after being caught giving the Gänseliesel a smack. He even contested the rule at the court: first in Göttingen, then in Berlin. He claimed “the freedom to kiss” and called upon “freeing the bronze lips from the ban”. It didn’t help – at least not officially.
The prohibition persisted, but the police turned a blind eye as long as it didn’t get to loud at night. It was not until 2001, just in time for the Gänseliesel’s 100th birthdaythat the prohibition was abolished. Despite decades of interdiction, the Gänseliesel is known as the most kissed girl in the world.
I found this story in the book “Bullerjahn. Alt-Göttinger Studenten Anekdoten” by Günther Meinhardt.