What are the lyrics to the German National Anthem – and did they change after World War II?

18 June 2018, 12:42 | Updated: 18 June 2018, 12:46

Germany sings the national anthem at 2018 FIFA World Cup
Germany sings the national anthem at 2018 FIFA World Cup. Picture: Getty

‘Deutschlandlied’, also known as ‘Das Lied der Deutschen’ or ‘The Song of the Germans’ has been the national anthem of Germany since 1922 – but what are the lyrics, and which verses will be sung at the World Cup?

What are the lyrics to the German national anthem?

The music to ‘Deutschlandlied’ was composed in 1797 by Joseph Haydn. The anthem, originally called ‘Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser’, was written for the birthday of Francis II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and later of Austria.

The lyrics, which were attached to the music in 1841, were written by a German poet called Hoffmann von Fallersleben.

Only the third stanza of Fallersleben’s poem is now used as Germany’s official anthem, and will be used at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Read more: The best national anthems in the world

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! /

English translation:

Unity and justice and freedom /
For the German fatherland! /
Towards these let us all strive /
Brotherly with heart and hand! /
Unity and justice and freedom /
Are the foundation of happiness; /
Flourish in the radiance of this happiness, /
Flourish, German fatherland!

Did the German National Anthem change after World War II?

When the Weimar Republic emerged after World War One, the country wanted to enhance its republican credentials – so they made ‘Deutschlandlied’ their national anthem.

West Germany adopted the anthem in the early 1950s for similar reasons, while the anthem in East Germany remained ‘Auferstanden aus Ruinen’ (‘Risen from Ruins’) from 1949 to 1990.

When Germany reunified in 1990, the third stanza of ‘Deutschlandlied’ was confirmed as the national anthem.

The other verses, which include the lyrics ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über alles’ were dropped due to their association with Nazi Germany.