Is the national anthem propaganda

If one made a survey among today's Germans about the key verses of their national anthem, the answer of the overwhelming majority would be: "Unity and law and freedom / for the German fatherland." You can read in every encyclopedia that the melody for these lines was composed by Joseph Haydn in 1797 as the Austrian imperial anthem, which was supposed to stand up to the Marseillaise. You know, but you can no longer hear it in the melody. Austrian emperors have ceased to exist since 1918. And didn't Heinrich August Hoffmann von Fallersleben detach the melody from its monarchical origins when he took the text of the imperial hymn in 1841 and added his "Song of the Germans" to it? Hasn't Haydn's melody since then been used for the rebellion against small states, against the princes and monarchs, the departure towards the National Assembly of 1848, at least in Germany?

Around 1890 it was a favorite song of rabid, often anti-Semitic nationalism

In his book "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles" in 1929, Kurt Tucholsky revealed to the public "why the book has adopted this resounding title, that line from a really bad poem that made a republic forsaken by all good spirits its national anthem - and." unfortunately with very good reason ". He had written the book to deny the title: "that foolish verse of a loud-mouthed poem". In 1922, a Social Democratic Reich President, Friedrich Ebert, declared the "Song of the Germans" to be the national anthem on August 11, the republic's national holiday. Why was it for Tucholsky the anthem of his opponents, the German Nationalists? Because the "Song of the Germans" did not become popular in the course of the bourgeois-national movement around 1848 and certainly not in connection with democratic-universalistic ideas, but only after the unification of the Bismarck Empire: in Wilhelmine Germany from 1890, as one of the favorite songs of the rabid, often anti-Semitic nationalism. During the First World War it became part of the Langemarck myth. In 1922 Ebert had in mind the integration of those who refused to join the republic and melted the "From the Meuse to the Memel, from the Adige to the Belt" into the propaganda against the Versailles Treaty. All three stanzas belonged to the hymn, but the first outshone the second and the striving for unity and justice and freedom of the third. On the soundtrack of the late Weimar Republic, however, the battle songs dominated, with the Red Front Fighters Association marching to the tune of the Horst Wessel song of the National Socialists. When they came to power, they took - not least out of consideration for the popular melody - the first stanza of the hymn of the hated republic and degraded it to the prelude to the Horst Wessel song, which changed from the battle song of the SA to the hymn of the Nazi State has been upgraded. The victorious powers reacted to this in 1945 when they followed the ban on "playing or singing the Horst Wessel song and other National Socialist songs" with the following sentence: "This ban also applies to the Deutschlandlied." Theodor Heuss, the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany, was right when he pointed out against the energetic reintroduction of the Deutschlandlied as the national anthem by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer that "very, very many people of our people" only had Haydn's melody as a "prelude" "Marching beat into a people's ruin" in memory and added that "the deep turning point in our national and national history is in need of a new symbolization". He was right, but not a strong alternative. The "Hymne to Germany", written at his suggestion by Rudolf Alexander Schröder, was too weak in text and melody. Three factors contributed to the return of the Deutschlandlied, which Heuss also accepted in 1952 in view of the majority sentiment: Adenauer's political will to incorporate it as a continuity element into the symbolic decoration of the Federal Republic, the popularity of Haydn's melody - and the shift in emphasis from the first to the third Verse. This was promoted by the constellation of the East-West conflict in the period that followed. It was formally implemented in the correspondence between Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker after the GDR joined the scope of the Basic Law in 1990. "Unity and law and freedom", according to Helmut Kohl in 1991, had become the "triad" that succeeded to "shape the most successful constitutional democracy in our history and to keep alive the desire for national unity". The national unity, not the central motive for Adenauer, now made it possible to build a bridge back into the world of Hoffmann von Fallersleben, over the long periods of rule of the first stanza.

Again there was a counter-proposal: to make Bertolt Brecht's "Children's Hymne" the hymn for a united Germany. But he had no chance against the final replacement of the third stanza of the "Song of the Germans" from the first. As an expression of those values ​​"to which we as Germans, as Europeans and as part of the international community feel obliged", Richard von Weizsäcker declared in August 1991 the third stanza alone to be the "national anthem for the German people". This maintained a continuity that, in view of the ruptures in German history, was only possible through the selective, discontinuous use of Hoffmann's text - and through the melody of Joseph Haydn.