Which song is a national song

Das Deutschlandlied - a song with history

As of: May 6th, 2021 9:21 am

There are always debates about the German national anthem. The "Song of the Germans", written by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben on August 26, 1841 in Heligoland, caused controversy even at the time it was written.

by Hanno Hotsch

Hoffmann von Fallersleben wanted to think freely, to discuss freely with others - without the fear of informers, police and prison. The young poet was most likely to do so abroad. At that time Heligoland was abroad, it belonged to Great Britain. Back then, people in Germany could only dream of values ​​such as freedom or law. But that is exactly what Hoffmann von Fallersleben did. Like many progressive minds, he longed to overcome the arbitrariness and feudal rule of the countless princes: a united, democratic Germany. He discussed these dreams with like-minded people on Heligoland. Sitting on a cliff on the North Sea island, von Fallersleben wrote down the "Song of the Germans". He backed the text with the melody of the "Kaiserquartett" by Joseph Haydn.

Hoffmann von Fallersleben: star of liberalism, enemy of the nobility

The house in which von Fallersleben lived during his stay in Heligoland is no longer there.

Hoffmann von Fallersleben, who was born on April 2, 1798 in the small town of Fallersleben near Wolfsburg, spoke with the text of the longing of many people in Germany from the heart. His publisher Kampe bought the three-verse song from him immediately. He printed several hundred copies - they were out of print immediately. Von Fallersleben quickly became a star among intellectuals, but not among many princes. The idea of ​​a unified Germany made them superfluous. The call for justice threatened their feudal system, the call for freedom endangered their power. Just one year after writing the Deutschlandlied on Helgoland, von Fallersleben was relieved of his chair at the University of Breslau without further ado. The censorship authorities accused him of contempt and hatred of sovereigns and authorities, and so he became a politically persecuted asylum seeker in the 1840s. In 1922, President Friedrich Ebert (SPD) made the song, which had become more and more popular, the national anthem of the Weimar Republic - with all three stanzas

"The song of the Germans": National Socialists only sing the first verse

At the time of National Socialism only the first verse was sung, followed by the "Horst Wessel Lied". While von Fallersleben had put the idea of ​​an internally unified Germany above everything, the Nazis now put Germany above all others externally. The song itself had such a negative connotation from the Nazis, their dictatorship and the war that afterwards many people no longer wanted it as a national anthem. In 1950, the then Federal President Theodor Heuss said that the text was part of German history in its origins, but that "the tremendous fate that shattered state connections created a turning point in history that no longer encompasses the old stock of meaning and words can be."

New hymn is not well received

Heuss therefore commissioned a new Deutschlandlied, which, however, did not catch on with the audience. Instead, another top politician, Konrad Adenauer, reintroduced the third stanza of the old hymn at a performance in Berlin's Titania Palace in 1950 - and gave it a new meaning. "If I now ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to sing the third stanza of the Deutschlandlied, then it is a sacred promise to us that we want to be a united people, a free people and a peaceful people."

"Unity and Law and Freedom": Third stanza since 1991, official national anthem

The third stanza of Fallersleben's Deutschlandlied has only officially been the national anthem since 1991. Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker signed this in an exchange of letters: The third stanza of Hoffmann-Havdn’s song has proven itself as a symbol and should remain so. A large bronze bust on Heligoland commemorates the poet von Fallersleben. It stands in the lowlands, directly at the pier where the tourists arrive.

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