If you saw episode 6 of Season 4 of Succession, you may have noticed the panic in the Waystar Royco board when Matsson tweeted his reaction to Kendall’s presentation to investors. The co-CEO officially introduced Living+ as the new dream proposed by the company, and Matsson reacted with a single sentence: “Doderick Macht Frei.” It’s a phrase that not everybody understands, especially if you are far from Europe and history. Let’s discover its meaning: why is it considered an offense?
You can watch HBO’s “Inside the Episode” video for Season 4, Episode 6 here on Youtube.
The meaning of “Doderick Macht Frei” in Succession
Let’s recap the context: Kendall is on the stage for the investor conference and is presenting a brand new product: Living+, a new concept oriented to prolonging life, offering a way to live the last years of our existence with fun, being entertained, and in a dedicated environment oriented to postpone death as much as possible. People interested in Living+ will stay on a property offered by Waystar Royco, spending the last years of their life in this new concept. Matsson doesn’t like the idea of managing this product after acquiring Waystar Royco and tweets the sentence “Doderick Macht Frei.”
The phrase explicitly references the sentence written at the entrance of Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi Germany. As you can see in this photo on Wikipedia, the original German phrase is “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which means “work makes you free.” Doderick is Waystar Royco Park’s mascot: you may remember it for the first episode of Season 1, where we meet Greg for the first time. Therefore, Doderick the Dog is a well-known symbol of Waystar Royco for the general audience.
From this point of view, the meaning of the phrase “Doderick Macht Frei” in Succession is an explicit parallel between Living+, the product presented by Kendall, and a Nazi concentration camp. What Matsson meant with his tweet is that the idea of inviting old people to enter their dedicated properties, with never-ending fun and entertainment, reminds him of the way German propaganda sponsored the concentration camps during Nazism. “Arbeit Macht Frei” was the slogan invented by Nazi officials to make concentration camps appear like innocent places where you come to work and live as a free man. But in real life, six million Jews were killed in those places.
By comparing Living+ to a concentration camp, Matsson shared a negative opinion about the perspective of living inside a Waystar Royco property dedicated to old people. And understandably, this sends a critical message about the product itself, and that’s why the board panicked. Matsson deleted his tweet a few minutes later, though, letting users develop their opinions more autonomously.