Nazi songs

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Nazi songs were songs and marches used in Nazi Germany. In modern Germany, the public singing or performing of songs exclusively associated with Nazi Germany is illegal.


Some songs that are much older than the post-World War I National-Socialist movement, and which were used by the Nazi Party, are often confused with songs written for them. This observation applies above all to "Das Lied der Deutschen, ("The song of the Germans")" written in 1841. It became the national anthem of the Weimar Republic in 1922, but during the Nazi era, only the first stanza was used, followed by the SA song "Horst-Wessel-Lied".[1]

In modern Germany, the public singing or performing of songs identified exclusively with Nazi Germany is illegal.[2] It can be punished with up to three years of imprisonment.

"Horst Wessel Song"[edit]

The "Horst-Wessel-Lied" ("Song of Horst Wessel"), also known as "Die Fahne Hoch" ("The Flags On High"), was the official anthem of the NSDAP. The song was written by Horst Wessel, a party activist and SA leader, who was killed by a member of the Communist Party of Germany. After his death, he was proclaimed by the NSDAP a "martyr" and his song gained widespread popularity among the party followers.[3]

Public performances of the song are currently forbidden in Germany (StGB §86a) and Austria (Verbotsgesetz 1947), a ban that includes both the lyrics and the melody, and is only permitted for educational purposes.

"Kampflied der Nationalsozialisten"[edit]

The Battle Song of the National Sociaists, also known by its opening line "Herbei zum Kampf, ihr Knechte der Maschinen" was an early Nazi hymn, its lyrics being written by Kleo Pleyer, while the melody being essentially based on that of the Russian "Aviamarsh", the official march of the Soviet Air Force, written in 1921 by Yuliy Abramovich Khayt. This melody was popular in Germany in the late 1920s due to its use by German communists in the "Rote Flieger" song.

"Deutschland Erwache (Heil Hitler Dir)"[edit]

The song "Deutschland Erwache" (Germany Awaken), or "Heil Hitler Dir" (Heil Hitler to Thee), otherwise known as Sachsenmarsch der NSDAP, was written by Dresden-based composer and NSDAP member Bruno C. Schestak, and premiered (in the famous surviving version performed by Carl Woitschach) in the celebrations of Hitler's 48th birthday on 20 April 1937.[citation needed]

"SS marschiert in Feindesland"[edit]

"SS marschiert in Feindesland" ("SS marches in enemy territory") also known as "Teufelslied" ("The Devil's song")[4] was a marching song of the Waffen-SS during World War II. A marching song with the same melody was adopted by the Charlemagne French SS Division[5], Estonian SS Division, the Latvian Legion and the Norwegian Legion during the war.[6]

In 2013, Stefan Gotschacher, press secretary of the right-wing populist and national-conservative FPÖ political party in Austria, was fired after posting on his Facebook page lyrics from the song.[7].

"Es zittern die morschen Knochen"[edit]

"Es zittern die morschen Knochen" ("The rotten bones are trembling") by Hans Baumann was, after the "Horst-Wessel-Lied", one of the most famous Nazi Party songs and the official song of the Hitler Youth.[8]

The original song's refrain (1932) was "Denn heute, da gehört uns Deutschland / und morgen die ganze Welt" ("For today, Germany is ours / and tomorrow the whole world"). In a later version (1937) this was mitigated for the Hitler Youth to "Denn heute da hört uns Deutschland..." ("For today, Germany hears us...").[9]

Vorwärts! Vorwärts![edit]

"Vorwärts! Vorwärts! schmettern die hellen Fanfaren" ("Forward! Forward! Blare the bright fanfares") is a Hitler Youth marching song. The text of the song, published in 1933, comes from Baldur von Schirach and is based on a melody by UFA composer Hans-Otto Borgmann, originally used in a documentary on Svalbard island.[citation needed]

"Vorwärts! Vorwärts!" was first performed in the 1933 propaganda film Hitlerjunge Quex. Motifs from the song are used throughout the film, underlying representations of the Hitler Youth, in contrast to The Internationale and jazz motifs in scenes from a socialist "commune".[10]

Sturmabteilung (SA) songs[edit]

Many pre-1933 SA songs were based on older German folk melodies, while there were instances in which SA combat songs copied the melodies of rival Red Front Fighters songs, which were in turn based on Russian marches. An example of this is the fascist song "Brüder in Zechen und Gruben" ("Brothers in mines and pits"), which copied the melody of the communist "Brüder, zur Sonne, zur Freiheit" (Brothers, to the sun, to freedom"), whose melody, in turn, belonged to the march "Smelo, tovarishchi, v nogu" ("Смело, товарищи, в ногу"; "Comrades, let's bravely march") written in 1895/6 by Leonid Radin in Moscow's Taganka prison.


A German military marching song of the Wehrmacht armoured troops (Panzerwaffe), "Panzerlied" was composed in 1933.[11] In 2017, the Bundeswehr was banned from publishing song books containing Panzerlied and other marching songs by the Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen as part of new efforts at denazification.[12]

Other music[edit]


  1. ^ Geisler, y Michael E., ed. (2005). National Symbols, Fractured Identities: Contesting the National Narrative. Middlebury. p. 71. ISBN 978-1584654377.
  2. ^ Strafgesetzbuch section 86a, German Criminal Code §86a
  3. ^ Halsall, Paul (July 1998). "Modern History Sourcebook: The Horst Wessel Song". Fordham University. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  4. ^ One of many German military songs thus labelled, historically. Brockhaus, Friedrich Arnold, ed. (1814). "Über Deutsche Vaterländische Poesie Dieser Zeit". Deutsche Blätter. 5 (186): 181. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^
  6. ^ Page Taylor, Hugh; Bender, Roger James (1969). Uniforms, Organization and History of the Waffen-SS. San Jose, California: R. James Bender Publisher. ISBN 0-912138-25-4.
  7. ^ "FPÖ feuert Sprecher wegen Zitat von Waffen-SS auf Facebook" ("FPÖ fires spokesman for quoting Waffen-SS on Facebook"), Focus, 12 April 2013 (in German)
  8. ^ "Lieder der Hitlerjugend" [Songs of the Hitler Youth]. Demokratische Blätter (in German). 7 (78). 1935. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  9. ^ Bengelsdorf, Reinhold (2002). "Lieder der SA und deren unterschiedliche" [Songs of the SA and their various lyrics] (in German). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Prümm, K: Hitlerjunge Quex: Psychopolitik der Nazipropaganda durch das Medium Film" (in German). Archived from the original on 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  11. ^ Nazi imagery from Taiwan stems from ignorance, not hate, analysts say, Los Angeles Times
  12. ^ ""Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss": Ministerium stoppt Bundeswehr-Liederbuch" ["Dark-brown is the hazelnut": Ministry withdraws Bundeswehr songbook]. Der Spiegel. 12 May 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Frommann, Eberhard (1999). Die Lieder des NS-Zeit: Untersuchungen zur nationalsozialistischen Liedpropaganda von den Anfängen bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg [The songs of the NS era: Investigations on the National Socialist propaganda songs from the beginning to the Second World War] (in German) (1st ed.). PapyRossa. ISBN 3-89438-177-9. |access-date= requires |url= (help)