Police detained three foreigners (aged between 37 and 38), on Friday, who were singing the Nazi-era German national anthem on a plane from Düsseldorf to Prague.
According to CTK, Instead of the current version of the anthem, they “performed” verses of “Das Deutschlandlied” which included the words “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles, uber alles in der Welt,” the version of the song used prior to, and during, Adolf Hitler’s regime.
The words translate to “Germany above all, above all in the world.”
The three men have been arrested by the foreign police after the plane landed at Prague Airport and now they could face up to three years in prison.
The German anthem and the Nazi problem
When Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, the Nazi regime misused the first verse – “Deutschland über alles” – to emphasize what they saw as Germany’s superiority to all other nations.
That’s why the Allies prohibited the public singing of the “Lied der Deutschen” (composed by the Austrian Joseph Haydn and first performed in 1797 to honor Holy Roman Emperor Francis II), after they vanquished Nazi Germany to bring World War II to an end in 1945.
The original intention of the lyrics was to advocate for a unified Germany, as opposed to the confederation of dozens of sovereign states that existed at the time, and the song was installed as the national anthem in 1922.
When Chancellor Konrad Adenauer requested to reintroduce the song as the national anthem of West Germany in 1952, he made it very clear that only the third verse would be sung. It begins with “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit / Für das deutsche Vaterland,” which translates to “Unity and justice and freedom / for the German fatherland.”
The former communist East Germany had its own hymn, “Auferstanden aus Ruinen,” or Risen from the Ruins.” In 1991, a year after reunification, all of Germany then adopted the third stanza of the “Song of Germany” as its unified anthem.
Thus, today, the German national anthem consists of just this third verse.