Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Deutschlandlied: Its Austrian Origins

I always felt torn listening to the German national anthem. The twelve years that it functioned as the anthem of the Third Reich contaminated it for me, despite my appreciation of it as a great piece of music.

I was therefore elated to discover on You Tube a video of the Kaiserlied. I was very puzzled that it was the same melody as Deutschland Uber Alles. Now I have found out that it was composed by Franz Josef Haydn, who interestingly enough spoke Croatian. The original song has words that specifically praise and bless the Emperor.

I was grateful for this piece of information, which removed an emotional block from between me and a beautiful piece of music.

Since I am conditioned to favour a Republican form of government, the idea of loyalty to an emperor as an institution is a bit strange to me. Despite this, I am grateful for the kindness shown by Franz josef the Second towards Jews in his empire. As an Emperor, he united many diverse peoples. Austrians, Hungarians Czechs and Croats were among the many nationalities within his empire.

I am pleased to present this video along with a rough translation of the first two verses of the "Kaiserlied. My apologies for a flawed translation

Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze G-d save , G-d protect
Unsern Kaiser, unser Land! Our Emperor and our country
Mächtig durch des Glaubens Stütze protected by faith
Führ´ Er uns mit weiser Hand! He leads us with his wise hand
Laßt uns Seiner Väter Krone leaves us his fatherly crowm
Schirmen wider jeden Feind: protects us from every enemy
Innig bleibt mit Habsburgs Throne Habsburg's throne remains beloved
Österreichs Geschick vereint. and united with Austria's destiny

In Verbannung, fern den Landen in exile in distant lands
Weilst Du, Hoffnung Österreichs. you remain, hope of Austria
Otto, treu in festen Banden Otto you stand in faithful company (?)
Steh´n zu Dir wir felsengleich. we stand with you firmly
Dir, mein Kaiser, sei beschieden May you you my emperor
Alter Ruhm und neues Glück! Old splendour and new good fortune
Bring den Völkern endlich Frieden, Bring your peoples endless peace
Kehr zur Heimat bald zurück! and return soon to your homeland

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