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The Panzerlied is one of the best known Wehrmacht songs. It was composed in June 1933 by Oberleutnant Kurt Wiehle while on his way to Königsbrück. Wiehle adapted a German sailor's song, writing lyrics more appropriate to the Panzerwaffe. At the time, Germany was clandestinely developing an armored force in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. The song could be considered as a reflection of the German re-armament, launched in the same time frame as the song was written.
It has gained fame in the English-speaking world due to its usage in the 1965 film Battle of the Bulge. While throughout that film German characters speak English, the song is sung in the original German.
The song is also sung by the Chilean Military and, unofficially, by some motorized and parachute units of the Italian army. In France, the wording was adapted slightly to become the Marche des Chars sung at the 501e régiment de chars de combat, and the tune is used for the French Foreign Legion song Képi Blanc.
The song is also used by the South Korean Army sung in Korean as a Marching Song for its Tank and other Motorized units.
The tune of the second half of the Panzerlied verses is used as chorus of the unofficial anthem for the German community of Namibia, and the unofficial anthem of the then South African-ruled South-West Africa (present day Namibia). This song is known as "Das Südwesterlied" or "Hart wie Kameldornholz".
Originally, the last three lines of every verse were repeated. It was later changed so that only the last line is repeated.
Lyrics and translation
|German lyrics||Approximate English Translation|
Ob's stürmt oder schneit, ob die Sonne uns lacht,
Es braust unser Panzer im Sturmwind dahin. (x2)
If it storms or snows, or the sun smiles on us,
Then roar our tanks in the storm's wind. (x2)
Mit donnerndem Motor, geschwind wie der Blitz,
So stoßen wir tief in die feindlichen Reih'n! (x2)
With thundering engines, as fast as lightning,
So we push deep into the enemy lines! (x2)
Wenn vor uns ein feindlicher Panzer erscheint,
Für Deutschland zu sterben ist unsre höchste Ehr'. (x2)
When before us a hostile tank appears,
To die for Germany is our highest honor. (x2)
Mit Sperren und Minen hält der Gegner uns auf,
Wir suchen uns Wege, die keiner sonst fand. (x2)
With obstacles and mines the foe blocks our path,
We search for ways, that no one else found. (x2)
Und läßt uns im Stich einst das treulose Glück,
Dann wird unser Panzer ein ehernes Grab! (x2)
And if we are abandoned by treacherous luck,
Then our tank shall become an honorable grave! (x2)
In Popular Culture
The 1965 war movie Battle of the Bulge has the most popular rendition of Panzerlied to date, and is frequently referenced with the song. The movie version repeats the first stanza 4 times, omitting the rest of the song.
The 2012 anime Girls und Panzer features an instrumental version of the song as one of the primary leitmotifs of Kuromorimine Women's College (the other being Erika). The show features boot stomping sounds accompanying the music, in reference to the version used in Battle of the Bulge.
- Königgrätzer Marsch
- Es war ein Edelweiss
- March of the Soviet Tankmen
- Panzer Division
References and notes
- Movie clip (YouTube video)
- Originally, the last line of every verse was repeated, but this is not the case in the performance from Battle of the Bulge; also, only the first verse is sung, and repeated several times.
- Chilean Military Parade, September 19th 2010 (YouTube video)
- La Marche des Chars
- Légion Étrangère - Kepi Blanc (chanson)
- Ingeb.org Panzerlied page - link to singable English version
- Brandenburg Historica (2006). " Grossdeutschland: Von der Wachtruppe zum Panzerkorps". Updated May 8, 2006.