The German, Austrian, and Swiss National Anthems

With Song Lyrics in German and English

German national anthem
German soccer fans sing the national anthem at the 2014 World Cup. Horacio Villalobos / Contributor / Getty Images

The melody of the German national anthem comes from the old Austrian imperial anthem “Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser” (“God Save Franz the Emperor”) by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), which was first played on February 12, 1797. In 1841 Haydn's melody was combined with with lyrics by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben  (1798-1874) to create “Das Lied der Deutschen” or “Das Deutschlandlied.”

From the time of Bismarck's Prussia (1871) up to the end of the First World War this anthem was replaced by another. In 1922 the first president of the German Republic (the “Weimar Republic”), Friedrich Ebert, officially introduced “Das Lied der Deutschen” as the national anthem.

During the 12 years of the Nazi era, the first stanza was the official anthem. In May 1952 the third stanza was proclaimed the official anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) by President Theodor Heuss. (East Germany had its own anthem.) The second verse, while never verboten (forbidden), was not very popular because of its “wine, women, and song” references.

The fourth verse was written by Albert Matthäi during the French occupation of the Ruhr region in 1923. It is not part of the anthem today. Since 1952, only the third (“Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit”) verse has been the official anthem.

Das Lied der Deutschen Song of the Germans
German Lyrics Literal English Translation
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Germany, Germany above all,
Über alles in der Welt, Above everything in the world,
Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze When always, for protection,
Brüderlich zusammenhält, We stand together as brothers.
Von der Maas bis an die Memel, From the Maas to the Memel
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt - From the Etsch to the Belt -
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Germany, Germany above all
Über alles in der Welt. Above all in the world.
Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue, German women, German loyalty,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang German wine and German song,
Sollen in der Welt behalten Shall retain in the world,
Ihren alten schönen Klang, Their old lovely ring
Uns zu edler Tat begeistern To inspire us to noble deeds
Unser ganzes Leben lang. Our whole life long.
Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue, German women, German loyalty,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang German wine and German song.
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit Unity and law and freedom
für das deutsche Vaterland! For the German Fatherland
Danach lasst uns alle streben Let us all strive for that
Brüderlich mit Herz und Hand! In brotherhood with heart and hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit Unity and law and freedom
Sind des Glückes Unterpfand; Are the foundation for happiness
Blüh' im Glanze dieses Glückes, Bloom in the glow of happiness
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland. Bloom, German Fatherland.
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,* Germany, Germany above all*
Und im Unglück nun erst recht. And in misfortune all the more.
Nur im Unglück kann die Liebe Only in misfortune can love
Zeigen, ob sie stark und echt. Show if it's strong and true.
Und so soll es weiterklingen And so it should ring out
Von Geschlechte zu Geschlecht: From generation to generation:
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Germany, Germany above all,
Und im Unglück nun erst recht. And in misfortune all the more.

Listen to the Melody: Lied der Deutschen or to the the Deutschlandlied (orchestral version.

Austrian National Anthem: Land der Berge

The national anthem (Bundeshymne) of the Republik Österreich (Republic of Austria) was officially adopted on February 25, 1947, following a contest to find a replacement for the former imperial anthem by Haydn that had been appropriated by Germany in 1922 and now also had Nazi associations. The composer of the melody is not certain, but its origin goes back to 1791, when it was created for the freemason lodge to which both Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Holzer (1753-1818) belonged. Current theory says that either Mozart or Holzer could have composed the melody.

The lyrics were written by Paula von Preradovic (1887-1951), the winner of the 1947 competition. Preradovic was the mother of the Austrian Minister of Education, Felix Hurdes, who had encouraged her (a distinguished writer and poet) to enter the contest. 

The Swiss National Anthem (Die Schweizer Nationalhymne)

The Swiss national anthem has a unique history that reflects the nature of Switzerland itself. Switzerland (die Schweiz) may be an old country, but its current national anthem has only been official since 1981. Although the "Schweizer Landeshymne" or "Landeshymne" was tentatively approved by the Swiss Nationalrat in 1961 and was in general use after 1965, the anthem did not actually become official for another 20 years (April 1, 1981).

The anthem itself, originally known as the "Schweizerpsalm," is much older. In 1841 the priest and composer Alberik Zwyssig of Urn was asked to compose music for a patriotic poem written by his friend, Zurich music publisher Leonhard Widmer. He used a hymn that he had already composed, and adapted it for Widmer's words. The result was the "Schweizerpsalm," which soon became popular in parts of Switzerland. But some Swiss cantons, such as French-speaking Neuchatel, had their own anthems. Efforts to select an official Swiss national anthem (to replace an old one that used the British "God Save the Queen/King" melody) ran up against the country's five languages and strong regional identities until 1981.