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Das Lied der Deutschen

Das Lied der Deutschen is the national anthem of Germany, with words written by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben[?] in 1841 set to a melody of Franz Joseph Haydn which had originally been written in 1797 as a part of a string quartet. It was then used for an anthem to the Emperor Francis II, "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" ("God Save Emperor Franz"). It is commonly known in most of the English-speaking world by the first line of its first verse, "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles", even though that verse is now very rarely performed for reasons that are explained below.

Fallersleben wrote this text in a time when Germany was still a motley collection of quarreling kingdoms and principalities. He wanted to express his desire for a united, strong Germany. The line "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt" can be understood in this context as an appeal to the German sovereigns to put aside all other projects and concentrate their efforts on creating a united Germany. At Fallersleben's time, this text also had a distinctly revolutionary, liberal connotation, since the demand for a united Germany was most often uttered in connection with demands for freedom of press and other liberal rights.

After these rights had been introduced after World War I, all three stanzas became the German National Anthem in 1922. In the following years, however, the first stanza was increasingly used by nationalist parties like Hitler's Nazi Party and reinterpreted to fit their ideologies. "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles" accordingly was interpreted to mean "Germany should govern the world" and Fallersleben's idea of a united fatherland for all Germans was perverted into the "Heim ins Reich[?]" initiative, which ultimately caused World War II.

In 1949, when West Germany was beginning to reconstitute itself as a new, democratic nation, it soon became apparent that all these connotations made it impossible to continue using all the stanzas. The song wasn't, however, completely rejected in memory of the democratic frame of mind it originated in: it remained the national anthem but was reduced to its third stanza.

After the German reunification in 1990, the third stanza was adopted as the national anthem of all of Germany. The first two stanzas are not actually forbidden, but they are never sung on official occasions. Singing or using the first stanza is widely perceived as an expression of right-wing political views or outright nazism.

German Lyrics

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
über alles in der Welt,
wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
brüderlich zusammenhält.
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
von der Etsch bis an den Belt,
|: Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
über alles in der Welt! :|

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! :|

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
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. :|

Approximate Translation

Germany, Germany above all,
above anything in the world,
if it always holds together brotherly
for protection and defense.
From the Meuse to the Memel,
from the Adige[?] to the Belt,
|: Germany, Germany above all,
above anything in the world. :|

German women, German faithfulness,
German wine and German songs
should continue to be held in high
esteem all over the world,
and inspire us to noble deeds
all our life. -
|: German women, german faithfulness,
german wine and german songs! :|

Unity and justice and freedom
for the German fatherland;
This let us all pursue,
brotherly with heart and hand.
Unity and justice and freedom
are the pledge of happiness.
|: Flourish in this blessing's glory,
flourish, German fatherland. :|

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