Dutch broadcaster apologises after showing subtitles for German anthem that were dropped after WW2

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Dutch broadcaster apologises after showing subtitles for German anthem words before Euro 2020 clash with England that were dropped after World War 2 because of link to Nazis

  • Full lyrics for the full song ‘Lied der Deutschen’ were shown by NPO on Tuesday
  • However, only the third verse of the song is used in Germany’s anthem today
  • First verse was dropped in post-Second World War Germany due to Nazi links
  • Translated, the song’s no-longer used opening lyrics mean ‘Germany above all’

Dutch public broadcaster NPO has apologised for wrongly subtitling the German national anthem when it was played before the football team’s European Championship match against England in London on Tuesday.

Lyrics for the full song ‘Lied der Deutschen’ appeared on screen in the channels subtitle service for the deaf and hard of hearing over the anthem. 

The verse beginning ‘Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles’ was dropped in post-Second World War Germany due to its association with Nazi Germany.

Dutch public broadcaster NPO has apologised for wrongly subtitling the German national anthem when it was played before the football team's European Championship match against England in London on Tuesday (pictured). Translated, its opening lines 'Deutschland uber alles/Über alles in der Welt' mean 'Germany above all/above everything in the world'

Dutch public broadcaster NPO has apologised for wrongly subtitling the German national anthem when it was played before the football team’s European Championship match against England in London on Tuesday (pictured). Translated, its opening lines ‘Deutschland uber alles/Über alles in der Welt’ mean ‘Germany above all/above everything in the world’

Translated, its opening lines ‘Deutschland uber alles/Über alles in der Welt’ mean ‘Germany above all/above everything in the world’.

Since 1952, Germany has only used the third and final verse of ‘Das Lied der Deutschen’, or ‘The Song of the Germans’.

In the third verse, the song instead puts an emphasis on ‘Unity and justice and freedom,’ the unofficial national motto of Germany that can be found on some coins and inscribed into belts worn by soldiers in the military.

‘During the live subtitling of the German national anthem at the European Championship match England-Germany, the wrong verse was displayed by mistake,’ the NPO subtitling department said on Twitter. 

‘This was a mistake by one of our subtitlers. We apologize to viewers who were disturbed by this.’  

During the Second World War, the Netherlands suffered from a brutal occupation at the hands of Nazi forces. Today, Germany and the Netherlands consider each-other their biggest footballing rivals. 

NPO's subtitling department apologised on Twitter after the error, saying the 'wrong verse was displayed by mistake'. Since 1952, Germany has only used the third and final verse of 'Das Lied der Deutschen', or 'The Song of the Germans', which in full was originally three verses

NPO’s subtitling department apologised on Twitter after the error, saying the ‘wrong verse was displayed by mistake’. Since 1952, Germany has only used the third and final verse of ‘Das Lied der Deutschen’, or ‘The Song of the Germans’, which in full was originally three verses

The first verse of the anthem was used by the Nazis from 1933 with SA’s Horst-Wessel-Lied as the national anthem at rallies and official occasions. Its second verse is seen as sexist and distasteful as it praises German woman and wine.

Poet August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote the lyrics in 1841. He supported the idea of unifying Germany into a modern state as opposed to groups of smaller regions with their own rulers, as was the case at the time.

Joseph Haydn composed the music, and it was first performed in 1797 to honour the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II.

In 1922, the full three-verse anthem was adopted by the Weimar Republic in an effort to bolster the government during turbulent times following the First World War.

The song was outlawed by the Allies in 1945 after the defeat of Nazi Germany, and in 1952 it was reintroduced, with only the third verse being adopted by a reunified Germany in 1991. 

Since then, the German national anthem uses only the third stanza from Hoffman’s poem accompanied by Haydn’s music.

It was not the first time such a mistake has been made. In 2017, the first verse of the song was sung by a soloist and played over the speakers at a tennis match in Hawaii.

A Swiss broadcaster made the same mistake as NPO, subtitling the national anthem with the incorrect lyrics during a Euro 2008 match between Germany and Austria. 

In 2009, British singer and co-frontman of The Libertines was booed and dragged off stage for singing the lyrics to the first verse at a festival in Munich. 

England beat Germany 2-0 on Tuesday to advance to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.

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