Joseph Haydn spielt Quartett. 1790.
Joseph Haydn spielt Quartett. 1790.



The national anthem of Germany is called "Das Lied der Deutschen," which means "The Song of the Germans" in English. It is also known as "Deutschlandlied" or simply the "German national anthem." The lyrics of the anthem were written by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben in 1841, and the melody was composed by Joseph Haydn in 1796. The third stanza of the anthem, which is used as the official national anthem, is a call for unity, freedom, and justice. Since the reunification of Germany in 1990, the national anthem has gained new significance as a symbol of the country's unity and identity. 





The melody that would later become Germany's national anthem was composed by Joseph Haydn for Emperor Franz II's 29th birthday celebration in 1797. Franz II was the last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. "Das Kaiserlied," as the melody was called, was first played in Vienna and quickly spread throughout German-speaking states in combination with various texts. It eventually became "Das Lied der Deutschen" (Song of the Germans).


August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote the official text for the national anthem in 1841. He promoted the idea of a unified Germany during the time of the German Confederation, which consisted of 39 German states. In 1922, the first president of the Weimar Republic declared the song to be Germany's official anthem, with all three stanzas included. However, the first stanza came under attack due to its exaltation of Germany, but one must consider the historical context. Hoffmann von Fallersleben emphasized the priority of a unified country to fulfill democratic values, as the third stanza points out. The first stanza can also be seen as a desire to materialize the idea of a unified nation in the composer's mind. Unfortunately, during the dark age of National Socialism, the first stanza was misused and combined with the Horst Wessel song.


Before 1922, there was no official German anthem. Instead, the song "Heil dir im Siegerkranz" with its well-known British melody served as the unofficial national anthem. It is the same tune that Americans hear when playing "America - My Country 'Tis of Thee," and the national anthem of Great Britain, "God Save the Queen."


In 1949, only the third stanza held official status as West Germany's national anthem. In 1990, the anthem was sung by all Germans. Today, the national anthem, specifically the third stanza, represents the values found in Articles 1-19 of the Basic Law in Germany.