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The National Anthem of the GDR is unique. Firstly it wasn't the only German national anthem, so it had to compete with the Deutschlandlied, whose text you can find here, then it was written by a part time politican and finally its text: Johannes R. Becher, author of the text, clearly tried to outdo the peacefulness of Hoffmann von Fallersleben's Deutschlandlied. I guess a anthem with the order to "reach one's hand out to other nations" is pretty unique.

But why did the GDR need a new anthem? In contrast to the BRD, which ,although at the surface democracy, was interspersed with former Nazis and members of the SS, the GDR tried to do something new (and completely failed). To express this the GDR needed a new anthem, which hasn't been abused by the Nazis. Only one month after the foundation of the GDR (7th October 1949) Becher finished the text for the song "Auferstanden aus Ruinen und der Zukunft zugewandt" (Arisen from ruins and turned towards the future), which became famous as "Auferstanden aus Ruinen" or the GDR National Anthem. Hanns Eisler, composer of the music for several of Bertolt Brechts chansons and plays, professor at a university in the USA and member of the KPD, wrote the music for the anthem. But Johannes R. Becher doesn't have to hide behind Eisler. Born 1891 he was a member of the USPD and later the KPD he worked as an agitator, but also released several books of expressionist poems. During the Third Reich he had to leave Germany. He firstly went to Prague but had to leave it as the Germans invaded the Sudetenland. His next station was Paris, but as France got invaded to, he was finally "safe" in Moscow (as many exile-Germans were spied on by the Russians and were held there literally as prisoners). In the GDR he then became member of the SED and its Zentralkomitee and from 1954 till 1958 he was minister of culture. But he lost all his influence in 1957 and from the Seventies on the text of his anthem wasn't sung anymore. It's "united Germany" did not fit into the new political situation in the GDR, which now accepted two German states.

Auferstanden aus Ruinen und der Zukunft zugewandt

Auferstanden aus Ruinen und der Zukunft zugewandt,
Arisen from ruins and facing the future

Laßt uns Dir zum Guten dienen, Deutschland, einig Vaterland.
Let's serve you for good, Germany, united fatherland.

Alte Not gilt es zu zwingen, und wir zwingen sie vereint,
Ancient misery has to be abolished, and we will abolish it united,

denn es muß uns doch gelingen, daß die Sonne schön wie nie
because we must be able to acheive, that the sun beautiful, as never,

über Deutschland scheint, über Deutschland scheint.
shines above Germany, shines above Germany


Glück und Friede sei beschieden Deutschland, unserm Vaterland.
Luck and peace should be granted Germany, our fatherland.

Alle Welt sehnt sich nach Frieden, reicht den Völkern eure Hand.
The whole world yearns for peace, reach your hands out to the nations (or peoples)

Wenn wir brüderlich uns einen, schlagen wir des Volkes Feind!
If we unite brotherly, we will beat the public enemy!

Laßt das Licht des Friedens scheinen, daß nie eine Mutter mehr
Let the light of peace shine, so that never again a mother

ihren Sohn beweint, ihren Sohn beweint.
has to mourn her son, has to mourn her son.


Laßt uns pflügen, laßt uns bauen, lernt und schafft wie nie zuvor,
Let's plow, let's build, learn and work as never before,

und der eignen Kraft vertrauend, steigt ein frei Geschlecht empor.
and trusting in one's power, a free gender (or race) arises.

Deutsche Jugend, bestes Streben, unsres Volks in dir vereint,
German youth, our nation's best striving is united in you,

wirst du Deutschland neues Leben. Und die Sonne schön wie nie
you will live a new Germany. And the sun beautiful, as never,

über Deutschland scheint, über Deutschland scheint.
shines above Germany, shines above Germany.

My translation may sometimes sound awkward (actually the original does, too). But my intention was to give a translation which is as near to the original as possible. The German grammar remained nearly unchanged, so that you can easily connect the German an English words. If the translation of a word was unclear, I added an alternative in braces. If you want to listen to the anthem you can do it online: http://www.dhm.de/lemo/objekte/sound/Nachkriegsjahre_audioHymneDDR/index.ram

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