Clean bill of health

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Owning or receiving a clean bill of health means a far-reaching permit , a license to pursue a lucrative business or a previously morally or legally questioned interest.


The term comes from military parlance and can be traced back to the detergent Persil . It was common for recruits to have to bring an empty box with them to return their civilian clothes to their family to the barracks, for which boxes with an advertising print of the widely used detergent Persil were often used. In soldiers' jargon, the actual presentation order became the expression “ Persilschein” .

Change of meaning

Denazification Act

The term “ clean bill of health” experienced a change in meaning , especially during the denazification phase. Suspected National Socialist criminals could be exonerated by statements from victims or former opponents and thus received a positive or good repute and met the requirements of the Denazification Act on the Allied registration form .

Colloquially, one can say that the person concerned was “washed clean” by accusations of a National Socialist conviction (where purity stands for innocence). She was certified as having a " clean slate " and was allowed to apply for an apartment again, open a business, be a civil servant or hold a public office. In the course of 1948, the interest of the Americans in a consistent denazification decreased noticeably, as the Cold War with the Eastern Bloc moved more and more into focus. Fast-track procedures have been put in place to bring these matters to a close. This led to many questionable judgments (see also 131er ).

Text on the US clearance certificate

"Persilschein" from a woman from Burgkunstadt
“Homecoming amnesty” of a man released from Soviet custody

On the proof of harmlessness issued in the American zone of occupation - not having committed any war crimes and a certified flawless political past that entitles them to work and gain - read: "Based on the information in your registration form, you are subject to the law for the liberation from National Socialism and militarism of March 5, 1946 not affected. "

Conversion to today's use

In later parlance, the meaning of the term clean bill of health (roughly the meaning of " carte blanche ") was also used in a generalized way for forms and certificates, the use of which is controversial or the procurement of which is not a problem, for example in the context of the visa affair or for operating permits of vehicle parts.

The term clean bill of health can also be found in the field of occupational safety . In order to avoid fines, companies with company doctors and / or specialists for occupational safety conclude a legally compliant care contract in accordance with the Occupational Safety Act, but without making use of the service.


  • Ernst Klee : Persil notes and false passports. How the churches helped the Nazis (= Fischer. Vol. 10956). Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-596-10956-6 .
  • Mike Rößler: The health and safety organization in film production. 2nd updated and revised edition. BfbA-Verlag, Potsdam 2013, ISBN 978-3-9815430-1-8 , pp. 19-20.

Web links

Wiktionary: Persilschein  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations