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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.[1][2] 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[3] 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,[4] and the tune is used for the French Foreign Legion song Képi Blanc.[5]

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".

Original lyrics[edit]

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[edit]

German lyrics Approximate English Translation
First stanza

Ob's stürmt oder schneit, ob die Sonne uns lacht,
Der Tag glühend heiß, oder eiskalt die Nacht,
Bestaubt sind die Gesichter, doch froh ist unser Sinn, ja, unser Sinn.

Es braust unser Panzer im Sturmwind dahin. (x2)

If it storms or snows, or the sun smiles on us,
The day burning hot, or the icy cold of night.
Dusty are our faces, but happy is our mind, yes, our mind.

Then roar our tanks in the storm's wind. (x2)

Second stanza

Mit donnerndem Motor, geschwind wie der Blitz,
Dem Feinde entgegen, im Panzer geschützt
Voraus den Kameraden, Im Kampfe ganz allein, Ja ganz allein.

So stoßen wir tief in die feindlichen Reih'n! (x2)

With thundering engines, as fast as lightning,
Towards the enemy, sheltered in the tank,
Ahead of our comrades, In the fight all alone, yes all alone.

So we push deep into the enemy lines! (x2)

Third stanza

Wenn vor uns ein feindlicher Panzer erscheint,
Wird Vollgas gegeben und ran an den Feind.
Was gilt denn unser Leben für uns'res Reiches Heer? Ja, Reiches Heer.

Für Deutschland zu sterben ist unsre höchste Ehr'. (x2)

When before us a hostile tank appears,
Full throttle is given and we close with the enemy.
What does our life matter but for the Reich's army? Yes, Reich's army.

To die for Germany is our highest honor. (x2)

Fourth stanza

Mit Sperren und Minen hält der Gegner uns auf,
Wir lachen darüber und fahren nicht drauf.
Und droh'n vor uns Geschütze Versteckt im gelben Sand, Ja, gelben Sand.

Wir suchen uns Wege, die keiner sonst fand. (x2)

With obstacles and mines the foe blocks our path,
We laugh about it and don't drive upon them.
And the threat of cannons that are hidden in the yellow sand, yes, yellow sand

We search for ways, that no one else found. (x2)

Fifth stanza

Und läßt uns im Stich einst das treulose Glück,
Und kehren wir nicht mehr zur Heimat zurück,
Trifft uns die Todeskugel, ruft uns das Schicksal ab, Ja, Schicksal ab.

Dann wird unser Panzer ein ehernes Grab! (x2)

And if we are abandoned by treacherous luck,
And if we don't return home again,
If death's bullet finds us, and fate calls us away, yes, us away.

Then our tank shall become an honorable grave! (x2)

In Popular Culture[edit]

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.

The second part of the melody was used as part of the Südwesterlied (1937), the unofficial anthem of Namibian Germans.

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Movie clip (YouTube video)
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Chilean Military Parade, September 19th 2010 (YouTube video)
  4. ^ La Marche des Chars
  5. ^ Légion Étrangère - Kepi Blanc (chanson)

External links and references[edit]