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Chilean leader apologises for 'Deutschland über alles' remark

The Local · 26 Oct 2010, 07:55

Published: 26 Oct 2010 07:55 GMT+02:00

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Pinera said he wrote the phrase "Deutschland über alles" (Germany above all) in a book signed by visitors to the office of the German president.

"I simply was unaware that phrase could be linked to a dark history of that country, and as such, I apologize, and ask for forgiveness on this case," Pinera said.

Pinera said that after he met with his German counterpart Christian Wulff, and wrote a message of thanks for German help after Chile's major earthquake, that he repeated a phrase he had learned at a German school as a boy in the 1950s and 60s.

He said he understood the phrase was from the era of Bismarck and German unification, but did not know it was associated with the Nazis.

The phrase “Deutschland über alles” is the first line of the original lyrics to the German national anthem, known as Das Deutschlandlied. The music was written by Joseph Haydn in 1797, and the lyrics were penned by August Heinrich Hoffmann in 1841.

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It became the official German anthem in 1922. The Nazis used only the first stanza of the song, and due to this association post-WWII German leaders chose to make only the third stanza part of the official anthem.

AFP/The Local/dw/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:03 October 26, 2010 by freechoice
So it is okay for German to sing this national anthem but others are not allowed to utter this phrase?
09:12 October 26, 2010 by Frenemy
no, its more like the opposite.

(that's why the phrase was REMOVED from the national anthem)
09:27 October 26, 2010 by auniquecorn
People will whine about anything. How stupid can that be?

STOP the stupid sh!t, and concentrate more on our economy.
12:07 October 26, 2010 by William Thirteen
ooopsie! time to get a new ambassadorial advisor!
12:31 October 26, 2010 by Johnne
Oh God!! another topic/story please! Oh ok let me start with FC Bayern takes on Werder Bremen today in a DFB Pokal tie!! yeeeaaahhhhhh!!!!! I predict 3:0 in favour of Bayern!! go on FC Bayern! go kick some Werder *ss! oooowww:;)*
13:03 October 26, 2010 by SRaab
FC Bayern über alles, oops, now I´ll go to jail
14:40 October 26, 2010 by bernie1927
How utterly ridiculous. To embarrass the Chilean President for such an innocent remark placed in a "thank-you" note!! Now, really. Grow up already.
16:12 October 26, 2010 by Bushdiver
Use after World War II

After its founding in 1949, West Germany did not have a national anthem for official events for some years despite the growing need for proper diplomatic procedures. Different songs were discussed or used, such as Ludwig van Beethoven's Ode An die Freude (Ode To Joy). Though the black, red and gold colours of the national flag had been incorporated into Article 22 of the (West) German constitution, a national anthem was not specified. On 29 April 1952, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer asked President Theodor Heuss in a letter to accept Das Lied der Deutschen as the national anthem, with only the third stanza sung on official occasions. President Heuss agreed to this on 2 May 1952. This exchange of letters was published in the Bulletin of the Federal Government. Since it was viewed as the traditional right of the president as head of state to set the symbols of the state, the Deutschlandlied thus became the national anthem.[7]

Meanwhile, East Germany adopted its own national anthem, Auferstanden aus Ruinen (Risen from the Ruins). As the lyrics called for "Germany, united Fatherland", they were not sung anymore when this idea was dropped in the 1970s. It is a legend that it was originally written to fit the same Haydn melody, but later got its own: The lyrics do not fit completely to the Haydn melody.

When West Germany won the 1954 FIFA World Cup Final in Bern, Switzerland, the lyrics of the first stanza dominated when the crowd sang along to celebrate the surprise victory that was later dubbed Miracle of Bern .[8]

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, efforts were made by conservatives in Germany to reclaim all three stanzas for the anthem; the Christian Democratic Union of Baden-Württemberg, for instance, attempted twice (in 1985 and 1986) to make German high school students study all three stanzas, and in 1989 CDU politician Christean Wagner decreed that all high school students in Hesse were to memorize the three stanzas.[9]

On 7 March 1990, months before reunification, the Constitutional Court declared only the third stanza of Hoffmann von Fallersleben's poem to be protected as a national anthem under criminal law; Section 90a of the Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) makes defamation of the national anthem a crime, but does not specify what the national anthem is.

In November 1991, President Richard von Weizsäcker and Chancellor Helmut Kohl agreed in an exchange of letters to declare the third stanza alone the national anthem of the enlarged republic. On official occasions, Haydn's music is used, and only the third stanza is supposed to be sung. For other uses, all stanzas may be performed. The opening line of the third stanza, Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit, ("Unity and justice and freedom") appears on soldiers' belts, was engraved into the rim of former 5-Deutsche Mark coins, and is currently present on 2-Euro coins minted in Germany.
19:04 October 26, 2010 by Kayak
@bushdiver; thank you!
23:00 October 26, 2010 by Tomreal
"He said he understood the phrase was from the era of Bismarck and German unification, but did not know it was associated with the Nazis."

And I thought that too. Looks like German top politicans have absolutely no idea of what has happened before the year 1933.
23:33 October 26, 2010 by Lachner
I don't see any harm in the phrase "Deutschland Über Alles" (Germany Above All) since it was created way before the Nazi era, the I and II World Wars and has been used in many different contexts (songs, politics and even football chants). As a matter of fact, I think that Germans should say it with pride since they have a very beautiful country with a rich culture, powerful economy, an educated population, good political system and the World's best engineering, automotive industry, IT and transportation technology. Be very proud of what you have...you Germans all deserve it!
04:43 October 27, 2010 by canadakraut
@ Lachner

Yes, German citizens should be proud of their country, and being a dual citizen of Canada and Germany I am very proud of both. Just because the phrase "Deutschland Über Alles" was coined long before WWI and WWII does not mean people should or can forget the Nazis ever used it. The swastika, or windmill, was used for 3000 years before the Nazis and it was a positive symbol of prosperity and growth. Despite such an immense history, we can use this symbol today "proudly" because of what it used to represent. Catch my drift?

I also agree they should not have publicly embarrassed the Chilean President because of his mistake, he obviously did not mean anything by it.
11:02 October 27, 2010 by moistvelvet
"The phrase ¦quot;Deutschland über alles¦quot; is the first line of the original lyrics... penned by August Heinrich Hoffmann in 1841"

So it is only linked to the Nazi era because idiots with a chip on their should keep saying "you can't say Deutschland über alles" because they fail to look further back in history pre 1933. Look Germany give it a rest, the war is over, the only people to find this WW2 stuff offensive are yoursleves and Israelis, the rest of the world doesn't have a problem with this stuff but the more you go on about it people will wonder if they should. Doesn't Germany want to be treated as "normal" and move on from the past?
19:19 October 27, 2010 by Beachrider
People can (somewhat) innocently run into key phrases that have specific meaning from history. A Chilean representative needs to be sensitive to this kind of stuff (remember when Bush 43 made reference to the Iraqi invasion as a 'crusade'?).

Phrases like this and Die Endlösung will never lose their association with the nefarious activities from the Nazi era.
03:59 October 28, 2010 by Bishopbayern
put him down a mine!
13:25 October 28, 2010 by Dogs_Gonads
Of the top of your head what is the first line of the Chilean national anthem.

Yep I rest my case.

Look at verse six of 'God save the Queen' and the last part of 'Flower of Scotland'.

Xenophobic, bloody right they are and who cares.
16:48 October 28, 2010 by Johann aus Afrika
I live in South Africa and have German roots, my grandparents came here in 1931 because my grandmother's maiden name was Lipshitz - blame the fact that I am now a African on the third reich! I am now seen as an Afrikaner (a white Afrikaans speaking person living in South Africa) and people that look and speak like me are often blamed for "apartheid". I had nothing to do with the development and enforcement of "apartheid" and I refuse to be soryy for who and what I am. Many things about "apartheid" was bad, but in that time many good things also evolved. I see a similarity between apartheid era South Africa and Nazi Germany. My advice is, do not forget the past, but also do not dwel on it. Do not pay bad things of a bygone era too much attention or else the bad will remain. Stop being sensitive about things you did not invent or support, and don't expect an apoloy from people who do not understand these things. Only can you be proud of who and what you are without having to apologise for the sins of you forefathers. Just chill the Germans of today did not kill any Jews!!!
17:50 October 29, 2010 by Kennneth Ingle
It is the fault of Germany's own government that every pro-German comment is seen as being Neo-Nazi. For years now children have been brought up to believe their Grandfathers and Grandmothers were all Nazis. Nothing could be fürther from the truth! They were just as much victims of the nazi regime as everyone else in Europe. The trouble is, that anybody pointing to this fact is also likely to be accused of being "Right wing."

What would we British say, if we were not allowed to sing "Britain rules the waves" or "Land of hope and glory" although nothing currently to be seen would support such songs?
02:20 October 30, 2010 by Paul Mannstein
Let's see, Americans can say God Bless America, Britain can say Britania Rule the Waves but Germans forbidden to say Deutschland Uber Alles.

Give me a break!

Political correctness has definitely gone over the top.
11:20 October 30, 2010 by Diet Simon
'Deutschland über alles' was used by the Nazis as a war cry. We are above everyone else, we will subdue all others, we will conquer, we are the best. Sentiments that shouldn't be in any anthem - they're a call to war. And I don't care who else wants to rule the waves or have other idiotic claims to grandeur in theirs.

Neo-Nazis revel in singing the forbidden verse. It's a rallying cry for them. A very foolish move to have kept the melody and any part of the lyrics because it's always just too easy to drop into the "we're better than all others".
02:04 November 1, 2010 by jarrr
@Diet Simon like it or not.

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,

Über alles in der Welt,....will be sung again when Germany is truly free and i`m sorry to say,but that nazi card has been overplayed.The full anthem is a call for unity and it`s "not forbidden".Learn the true facts about the anthem and not some Hollywood propaganda.
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