Das Lied der Deutschen

The Germans' Song

Melody: Joseph Haydn, 1797
Lyrics: Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Helgoland 1841

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,1
Über alles in der Welt,
Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
Brüderlich zusammenhält,
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,2
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt -
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt.

Germany, Germany first and foremost,1
First and foremost in the world,
If always to defend and defy
It holds together brotherly,
From the Meuse up to the Memel,2
From the Adige up to the Belt -
Germany, Germany first and foremost
First and foremost in the world.

Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang
Sollen in der Welt behalten
Ihren alten schönen Klang,
Uns zu edler Tat begeistern
Unser ganzes Leben lang.
Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang.

German women, German faithfulness,
German wine and German song
Shall keep in this world
Their beautiful, old sound,
Inspire us to noble deeds
For the rest of our lives.
German women, German faithfulness,
German wine and German song.

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit3
Für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach laßt uns alle streben
Brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Sind des Glückes Unterpfand.
Blüh' im Glanze dieses Glückes,
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland.

Unity and right and freedom3
For the German Fatherland!
This is what we all must strive for
Brotherly with heart and hand!
Unity and right and freedom
Are what happiness is founded upon
Flourish in the splendour of that happiness,
Flourish, German Fatherland.

Footnotes:

  1. The verse "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles" is much misinterpreted. It does not mean "Germany above everything", but indeed, as translated here, "Germany first and foremost". At the time this song was written (1841), Germany did not exist as a political entity. It was subdivided in about three dozen states.
  2. These two verses, too, are usually misinterpreted as an incitement to rampant expansionism. In 1841, it was not yet a universally accepted notion that Austria and Germany were two different nations; usually, both were considered part of one German nation. Austria did indeed reach as far south as to the river Adige, and Germany, still comprising what is today part of Denmark, reached up north to the Belt. Up to the 1945 exodus, Eastern Prussia reached as far east as to the river Memel, too. The only place where Fallersleben really goes over the top is the much-disputed Western border of Germany, which has never been the Meuse.
  3. This third stanza is the only one officially taught and sung in Germany. However, the entire song is the German national anthem, and it is a myth that the first and second stanza are forbidden. There is an unofficial fourth stanza not by Fallersleben. "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" (unity and right and freedom) have probably been derived from the motto of the French revolution. These three words are the very symbol of the tragic tradition of German democracy.

Personally, I love our national anthem. You won't find many other anthems in the world with totally non-violent lyrics, a melody written by one of the greatest classical composers of all time and a deep rooting in history.

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