Panzerlied

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Das Panzerlied
English: The Tank Song
Music Oberleutnant Kurt Wiehle
Music sample

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.

Chilean army version and other countries[edit]

Chile has the biggest German community in South America, as a proportion of its population, due to waves of immigration from Germany during the 19th-20th centuries. Hence German influence is great in Chile. Around 1870, Chilean president Domingo Santa María initiated a program of military reform with the help of Prussian instructors like Emil Körner. Due to this and the influence of the large community of German immigrants, the Chilean military borrowed many military traditions of the old Prussian army and the modern German army. The "Panzerlied" became the official hymn of the armored forces in the Chilean army and is sung during parades. The lyrics were translated to Castilian Spanish, but the title was left unchanged. The Panzerlied has become one of the most widely recognized German traditions among the Chilean people.

The song is also sung by some motorized and parachute units of the Italian army. In France, the lyrics were adapted slightly to become the Marche des Chars used by the 501e régiment de chars de combat,[3] and the tune was borrowed for the French Foreign Legion's song Képi Blanc.[4]

The Korean adaptation of the song is also used by the South Korean Army as a march for the country's tank and motorized units.

The second half of the Panzerlied tune is used as chorus for 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 Kamelherndorz".

The first,second and fifth Stanzas of the Song are used by the Brazilian Army under the title of "Canção Da Tropa Blindada" (Song Of the Armored Troops) with The lyrics translated to Portuguese.

Original lyrics[edit]

Originally, the last two lines of every verse were repeated. It was later changed so that only the last line is repeated.

There are at least three versions online:

- The Original - The "Battle" Version - The 1945 Battle of the Bulge Version

Lyrics and translation[edit]

Original Version from 1933-1945:

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,
Verstaubt sind die Gesichter, doch froh ist unser Sinn, ja, unser Sinn.

Es braust unser Panzer im Sturmwind dahin. (x2)

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

Our tank roars there in the storm's wind. (x2) 
Second stanza

Mit donnernden Motoren, geschwind wie der Blitz,
Dem Feinde entgegen, im Panzer geschützt,
Voraus den Kameraden, im Kampfe stehn wir allein, stehn wir allein.

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

With thundering engines, as fast as lightning,
Against the enemies, sheltered in the tank,
Ahead of our comrades, in battle we stand alone, we stand alone.

So we push deep in the enemy's ranks (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 uns're höchste Ehr'. (x2)

If a hostile tank appears before us,
Full throttle and run at the enemy (orders) will be given.
What do our lives matter for our 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 opponent holds us up,
We laugh about it and don't drive upon them.
And guns threaten before us, hidden in the yellow sand, yes, yellow sand.

We search our way that none other 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're left behind by treacherous luck,
And if we can't return back home anymore,
If Death's bullet finds us, and calls our fate away, yes, fate away.

Then our tank will become a rigid grave. (x2)

Panzlied "Battle" Version:

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,
Verstaubt sind die Gesichter, doch froh ist unser Sinn, ja, unser Sinn.

Es braust unser Panzer im Sturmwind dahin. (x2)

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

Our tank roars there in the storm's wind. (x2)

Second stanza

Mit donnernden Motor, zu schnell 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 uns're 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 for the Reich's army? Yes, Reich's army.

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

Fourth stanza

Mit Sperren und Tanks hält der Gegner uns auf,
Wir lachen darüber und fahren nicht drauf.
Und schüttelt er gar grämlich, und wütend seine Hand, ja seine Hand.

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

With barriers and tanks the foe blocks our path,
We laugh about it and don't drive upon them.
And even if their hand shakes morosely and furiously, yes their hand.

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 2015 movie sequel also features the song as a theme with another instrumentation.

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

An instrumental version was used in the 1999 PlayStation game "Panzer Front".

The song was used in the BlackICE mod for the 2009 grand strategy game Hearts of Iron III.

The song was used in the 2016 grand strategy game Hearts of Iron IV.

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. ^ La Marche des Chars
  4. ^ Légion Étrangère - Kepi Blanc (chanson)

External links and references[edit]