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KMFDM was officially founded in Paris, France, on February 29, 1984, as a performance art project between Sascha Konietzko and German painter and multimedia artist Udo Sturm at the opening of an exhibition of young European artists at the Grand Palais.[2] The first show consisted of Sturm playing an ARP 2600 synthesizer, Konietzko playing bass guitars with their amplifiers spread throughout the building,[3] and four Polish coal miners (whom Konietzko had met at a bordello)[4] pounding on the foundations of the Grand Palais.[1]

KMFDM is an initialism for the nonsensical and grammatically incorrect German phrase Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, which, keeping the same word order, literally translates as “no majority for the pity”, but is typically given the loose translation of “no pity for the majority”.[2][5][6][7] In the original phrase, the articles preceding the nouns Mehrheit and Mitleid are inflected for the wrong gender, as the proper declension would be Keine Mehrheit für das Mitleid. Swapping the two nouns yields the grammatically correct Kein Mitleid für die Mehrheit, which translates directly as “no pity for the majority”. In a 2003 interview, Konietzko explained the origins of the phrase:

“On the morning of February 29th, 1984 I woke up and went down to breakfast at a hotel in Paris. We had a show that night opening for an exhibition for young European artists. … we needed a motto for the night so that we could make up some fliers and post them around. There was a German newspaper on the table and so I started cutting out words and threw them all into a cap. We picked a few of them out and it read “Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid”. It’s kinda improper German in regards to its translation but in the DA-DA-esque [sic] mindset of the early morning it made perfect sense. So when I was on my way back to Hamburg I’d mentioned it to Raymond [Watts]. He liked it but he was having difficulty pronouncing it correctly. So finally he said, ‘Why don’t you just call it KMFDM?’ So that was it. We were KMFDM.”[8]

The initialism has jokingly been said to stand for “Kill Mother-Fucking Depeche Mode“, coined by the band on their first U.S. tour and used as recently as Kunst.[9]