Learn the German Lyrics to Nena's '99 Luftballons' Song

Discover How This Hit Song from the 80s Translates into English


You may have heard the 80s pop song "99 Red Balloons" but did you know that it was originally a German song? The German pop star, Nena released the international hit song in 1983 and the English version a year later.

Though she had a few hits after that, "99 Luftballons" was Nena's biggest hit and it remains a favorite in both languages.

Who Is Nena?

German pop singer Nena made a big splash with “99 Luftballons” (1983, "99 Red Balloons" in English 1984).

After that huge hit, her career seemed to level off, especially in the non-German-speaking world.

In 2005, Nena released a new album that brought her back into the spotlight. Several songs from her  "willst du mit mir gehn" (Will You Go With Me) album shot up in the German radio charts.

Nena was born Susanne Kerner in Hagen, in the German region of Westphalia (Westfalen) in 1961. After a short stint with a German band known as Stripes, Nena recorded her first hit, “Nur geträumt” (“only dreamed”). That hit song made her an overnight success in 1982. With the release of “99 Luftballons” and the English version, Nena became world famous.

Nena's adopted hometown is Berlin, and her "willst du mit mir gehn"  album (2005) was recorded there “on the Spree between Kreuzberg and Köpenick” (the phrase was used on the album cover).

"99 Luftballons" Lyrics

Text: Carlo Karges
Musik: J. U. Fahrenkrog-Petersen

This is the song that brought Nena to the attention of English-speaking people all over the world in 1984. This original German version, written by Carlo Karges, was released in Germany in February 1983.

The English version was written by Kevin McAlea and released in North America in 1984. Under the title "99 Red Balloons," that song (also sung by Nena) loosely follows the German lyrics though it is not the same as the direct English translation used here.

German LyricsDirect Translation
Hast du etwas Zeit für mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Denkst du vielleicht g'rad an mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Und dass so was von so was kommt
Do you have you some time for me,
if so I'll sing a song for you
about 99 balloons
on their way to the horizon.
Maybe you're thinking about me right now
if so I'll sing a song for you
about 99 balloons
and that such a thing comes from such a thing.
99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Hielt man für Ufos aus dem All
Darum schickte ein General
'ne Fliegerstaffel hinterher
Alarm zu geben, wenn es so wär
Dabei war'n da am Horizont
Nur 99 Luftballons
99 balloons
on their way to the horizon
People think they're UFOs from space
so a general sent up
a fighter squadron after them
Sound the alarm if it's so
but there on the horizon were
only 99 balloons.
99 Düsenjäger
Jeder war ein großer Krieger
Hielten sich für Captain Kirk
Das gab ein großes Feuerwerk
Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft
Und fühlten sich gleich angemacht
Dabei schoss man am Horizont
Auf 99 Luftballons
99 fighter jets
Each one's a great warrior
Thought they were Captain Kirk
then came a lot of fireworks
the neighbors didn't understand anything
and felt like they were being provoked
so they shot at the horizon
at 99 balloons.
99 Kriegsminister -
Streichholz und Benzinkanister -
Hielten sich für schlaue Leute
Witterten schon fette Beute
Riefen Krieg und wollten Macht
Mann, wer hätte das gedacht
Dass es einmal soweit kommt
Wegen 99 Luftballons
99 war ministers
matches and gasoline canisters
They thought they were clever people
already smelled a nice bounty
Called for war and wanted power.
Man, who would've thought
that things would someday go so far
because of 99 balloons.
99 Jahre Krieg
Ließen keinen Platz für Sieger
Kriegsminister gibt's nicht mehr
Und auch keine Düsenflieger
Heute zieh' ich meine Runden
Seh' die Welt in Trümmern liegen
Hab' 'nen Luftballon gefunden
Denk' an dich und lass' ihn fliegen
99 years of war
left no room for victors.
There are no more war ministers
nor any jet fighters.
Today I'm making my rounds
see the world lying in ruins.
I found a balloon,
think of you and let it fly (away).

The German and English lyrics are provided for educational use only. No infringement of copyright is implied or intended. The literal, prose translations of the original German lyrics by Hyde Flippo are not from the English version sung by Nena.

Popular Songs by Nena

  • Nur geträumt (1982)
  • 99 Luftballons (1983)
  • 99 Red Balloons (1984)
  • willst du mit mir gehn (2005)
  • lass mich (2005)
  • und jetzt steh ich hier und warte (2005)
  • liebe ist (2005)
  • ich komm mit dir (2005)
  • immer weiter (2005)
  • ohne liebe bin ich nichts (2005)
  • vitamine (2005)
  • wir fliegen (2005)
  • neues land (2005)
  • der anfang (2005)