What was the first tune

The Song of the Germans"

On August 26, 1841, the poet and literature professor August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote the "Song of the Germans" on the then British island of Helgoland as an expression of the longing for national unity. The Deutschlandlied, underlaid with the melody of Joseph Haydn's (1732-1809) imperial hymn, was published as a single print on September 1, 1841 by Hoffmann and Campe in Hamburg. In 1922, President Friedrich Ebert declared the song the German national anthem. Since 1952 only the third stanza has been sung as the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany. At the founding ceremony in 1987, the German Historical Museum received a first print of the Deutschlandlied as a gift from the Federal Government and the Federal Chancellor.

From August 11, 1841 to September 5, 1841, Hoffmann von Fallersleben stayed to relax on the island of Helgoland. Shortly before, he had completed the second part of his "Unpolitical Songs", an anything but apolitical collection of critical poems in which Hoffmann von Fallersleben denounced the arbitrariness of the princes and the small states of his time. This criticism of the political and social conditions in Germany earned him the reputation of a champion of democratic freedoms.

On the crossing to Heligoland, politically like-minded people from Hanover joined him, with whom he spent a few carefree days on the island and recited his newly created poems in good company. In his memoirs, Hoffmann von Fallersleben described his mood when writing the song: "At first, Helgoland seemed to be deserted, I felt very orphaned. And yet the loneliness soon made me feel good: I was happy that I was after the troubled Days was once again allowed to belong to me. When I was walking alone on the cliff, seeing nothing but sky and sea around me, I had such courage that I had to write poetry even if I hadn't wanted to August the song 'Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles!'. " Three days later he surprised his publisher Julius Campe (1792-1867) while walking on the beach with the words: "I made a song, but it costs four louis d'or". Before Hoffmann had finished performing the song, Campe paid him the price he wanted and predicted a decisive success as the "Rheinlied". Campe put it in line with the then very popular Rhine lyric poetry - Nikolaus Becker's "Der deutsche Rhein" ("You shouldn't have it, the free German Rhine ...") or Max Schneckenburger's "Die Wacht am Rhein" ("Es a call roars like Donnerhall ... ") - which arose in defense of the French demands for a" natural Rhine border "in 1840.

A few days later Campe brought the first edition of the song to the poet on Heligoland. At Hoffmann's request, it appeared as a musical text based on the melody of Joseph Haydn's Imperial Quartet. The opening line of the Austrian imperial hymn "God preserve Franz, the Kaiser, our good Emperor Franz!" was expressly quoted on the cover of the print. With this, Hoffmann countered the monarchical emperor anthem with a democratic national anthem, instead of God and the emperor it was now about a united, free Germany. Because in 1841 Germany was still split up into 39 individual states. But most governments at that time wanted nothing to do with these ideas of unity and freedom; in Prussia, Hanover and Austria the song quickly fell victim to censorship. On October 5, 1841, the "Song of the Germans" was heard publicly for the first time on Hamburg's Jungfernstieg. It was sung during a torchlight procession in honor of the liberal Baden professor Carl Theodor Welcker (1790-1869) who was in town and who had been the champion of the Germans since his magazine "Der Freisinnige" was banned and his retirement due to "suspicious connections" Freedom and unity movement was valid.

The "song of the Germans" became more and more the confession song of a people longing for "unity and justice and freedom". Hoffmann von Fallersleben himself was classified as "dangerous to the state" in April 1842 at the instigation of the Prussian minister of education, lost - like Welcker - his chair and was expelled from the country.

On official occasions, the German Empire initially adhered to the Prussian royal anthem "Heil dir im Siegerkranz" by Heinrich Harries (1762-1802), which was sung to the melody of the British anthem. In the Weimar Republic, President Ebert declared the "Song of the Germans" to be the German national anthem on August 11, 1922. He tried to reconcile left and right parties in the Reichstag.

During the Nazi era, the "Lied der Deutschen" remained the national anthem, but only the first verse "Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles ..." was sung, always together with the "Horst Wessel Lied". Above all abroad, the Deutschlandlied fell into disrepute due to its reduction to the first stanza and its connection with the battle song of the NSDAP. In 1945 the Allied Control Council therefore banned the national anthem.

The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany of 1949 renounced the establishment of a national anthem. The GDR, on the other hand, declared the song "Resurrected from Ruins" by Johannes R. Becher with the music of Hanns Eisler to be the national anthem as early as November 1949.

Since alternative drafts were not able to establish themselves in the Federal Republic of Germany, Federal President Theodor Heuss and Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer finally designated the third stanza of the "Deutschlandlied" as the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany by means of an exchange of letters. Foreign countries remained reserved, but no longer interfered. The US High Commissioner John McCloy justified the Allied reluctance to say that what matters is not "what the people sing, but how they act".

The third stanza of the Deutschlandlied combines the desire for national unity with justice and freedom. Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl again confirmed the national anthem in 1991 through an exchange of letters, with the third stanza still having exclusive validity.