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|National Anthems in Germany
by Victor Grossman
The debate about the US anthem echoes a debate about the German anthem. The "Deutschland über alles" text goes back to 1841 but its meaning has been and still is easily misused. When East Germany was annexed in 1990 many suggested adopting the GDR anthem, written in 1949 by the anti-Nazi poet (and minister of culture) Johannes Becher, with lines like these:
The music to both, melodic and easily singable, is by the great composer Hanns Eisler (after the HUAC forced him to leave the USA). But the proposals, unsurprisingly, were rejected, and the German anthem remains the old one, with some also having problems about standing to sing it.
Victor Grossman, American journalist and author, is a resident of East Berlin for many years. He is the author of Crossing the River: A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany (University of Massachusetts Press, 2003).