During World War II the phrase was cynically used by the Nazis as a motto displayed over the entrance of Buchenwald concentration camp. This has resulted in use of the phrase being considered controversial in modern Germany.
Jedem das Seine has been an idiomatic German expression for several centuries. For example, it is found in the works of Martin Luther and contemporaries.
Some nineteenth-century comedies bear the title Jedem das Seine, including works by Johann Friedrich Rochlitz and Caroline Bernstein.
An ironic twist on the proverb, "jedem das Seine, mir das Meiste" ("to each his own, to me the most"), has been known in the reservoir of German idioms for a long time, including its inclusion in Carl Zuckmayer's 1931 play The Captain of Köpenick.
In 1937, the Nazis constructed the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany. The motto Jedem das Seine was placed in the camp's main entrance gate. The gates were designed by Franz Ehrlich, a former student of the Bauhaus art school, who had been imprisoned in the camp because he was a communist.