“A Nutty Idea”: the German Anthem in Turkish?

Posted by John Rosenthal

Apparently inspired by the supposed "Spanish version" of the Star-Spangled Banner, "Nuestro Himno", Green MP Hans-Christian Ströbele has suggested that German citizens of Turkish origins should have their own "Turkish version" of the German national anthem. "I would take it as a sign of integration if fellow citizens of Turkish origins could sing the third stanza [of the so-called "Deutschlandlied" or "Song of Germany"] in Turkish," he said in conversation with the Berlin tabloid B.Z. In the Bundestag, Ströbele represents Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, home to numerous 2nd and 3rd generation descendants of Turkish immigrants. Despite this fact, he seems unaware that many of his "fellow citizens of Turkish origins", having been born and raised in Germany, do not speak Turkish – which, in the customary sense of the word "integration", is surely a truer sign of integration than when the opposite is the case.


Here some reactions to Ströbele’s proposal as excerpted from an article ("Keine Multikulti-Hymne") in yesterday’s (5 May) edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

Politicians from all the party groups in the German Bundestag have responded with ridicule and derision to the suggestion of… Ströbele. …The head of Ströbele’s [Green] party group in the Bundestag, [Renate] Künast, said: "The German national anthem was written in German and, naturally enough, it is sung in German. As for the rest, rather than rewriting this song, everyone would be well-advised to think about learning the German language." …The Christian Democratic politician [Wolfgang] Bosbach said: "All we need now is for someone to demand that the muezzin call for prayer from the top of the Cologne cathedral." The [Turkish-born] Social Democratic politician [Lale] Akgün spoke of a "nutty idea"…


The "Song of Germany" is, incidentally, the same song that is more commonly known throughout the world as "Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles". As a rule, however, the first stanza, which begins with the phrase "Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles" is not sung nowadays, nor is the second stanza, which celebrates "German women, German loyalty, German wine and German song". This is why Ströbele’s comment refers only the third and last stanza.


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