Nazi songs are songs and marches created by the Nazi Party. In modern Germany, the public singing or performing of songs exclusively associated with the Nazi Party is now illegal.


There is often confusion between songs written specifically for the Nazi Party, and much older German patriotic songs (from before World War I) that were used extensively by the Nazis and have become associated with 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.

Sturmabteilung (SA) songsEdit

An instrumental version of Brüder in Zechen und Gruben

Many pre-1933 SA songs were based on older German folk melodies, but there were also 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.

"Horst Wessel Lied"Edit

The "Horst-Wessel-Lied" ("Song of Horst Wessel"), also known as "Die Fahne Hoch" ("The Flag Raised"), 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, which are only permitted for educational purposes.


Erika is a marching song used by the German military. The song was composed by Herms Niel in the 1930s, and it soon came into usage by the Wehrmacht, especially the Heer. No other marching song during World War II reached the popularity of Erika.

"Kampflied der Nationalsozialisten"Edit

An instrumental version of the song

"Kampflied der Nationalsozialisten" ("Battle Song of the National Socialists"), also known by its opening line "Wir Sind Das Heer Vom Hakenkreuz" ("We Are The Army Of The Swastika") was an early Nazi hymn. Its lyrics were written by Kleo Pleyer, while the melody was essentially based on that of the traditional German folk song Stimmt an mit hellem hohen klang, which was composed in 1811 by Albert Methfessel. Later on, the verses of Das Berliner Jungarbeiterlied (with the opening line Herbei zum Kampf, ihr Knechte der Maschinen) were added to the song. Das Berliner Jungarbeiterlied was set to the melody of the Air March (the official march of the Soviet Air Force), which was composed in 1921 by Yuliy Abramovich Khayt. During the Nazi era, the song was performed by Carl Woitschach's orchestra in its full version, incorporating both melodies, as "Kampflied der Nationalsozialisten/Herbei zum Kampf".

"Die Hitlerleute” (Kameraden Laßt Erschallen)Edit

"Kameraden Laßt Erschallen" ("Comrades Let it Resound") was a Sturmabteilung arrangement of the Kaiserjägerlied written by Karl Mühlberger in 1924. The author of the lyrics of Die Hitlerleute was Horst Wessel himself and the song originated from his unit, the Sturm 67/5(Sturm 67, Standarte 5) of the Berlin Sturmabteilung, also known as the Sturm "Horst Wessel", named in honor of Horst Wessel, also known by its old name before Horst Wessel's death, "The Hitlerleute". The first recording of the song was published by the company Electrola around the early 1930s.

"Auf, Hitlerleute, schließt die Reihen" (Hitlernationale)Edit

The Nazis were not reticent in employing songs and melodies previously associated wholly with socialists and communists in their quest to broaden their appeal to the working class, and the Internationale was a prime target. By 1930, a Nazi version of this working-class standard was in circulation, entitled the Hitlernationale:[4]

The lyrics were as follows:

Auf, Hitlerleute, schließt die Reihen, Zum Rassenkampf sind wir bereit. Mit unserem Blut wollen wir das Banner weihen, Zum Zeichen einer neuen Zeit. Auf rotem Grund im weiβen Felde, Weht unser schwarzes Hakenkreuz. Schon jubeln Siegesignale, Schon bricht der Morgen hell herein. Der nationale Sozialismus Wird Deutschlands Zukunft sein.

Arise Hitler men, close ranks, We are ready for the racial struggle. With our blood we consecrate the banner, The symbol of a new era. On its red and white background, Shines our black swastika bright. Victory sounds are heard all over, As the morning light breaks through; National Socialism Is the future of Germany.

Appropriating working-class songs such as the Internationale for their own political ends had a direct effect on the streets, as the Nazi composer Hans Bajer noted when giving this account of a march by the SA into working-class district of north Berlin one Sunday afternoon in 1930:

When the storm troopers broke into song, singing the ‘Hitlernationale’, residents threw open their windows, misled momentarily by the familiar tune. Realizing quickly that Nazis were trying to appropriate the melody of their revolutionary anthem, the socialist residents countered by singing the refrain from the original text ‘Völker hört die Signale! Auf zum letzten Gefecht’ (‘Comrades, listen to the Signal! Onward, to the final battle!’), while others pelted the storm troopers with bits of debris. Police promptly moved in to prevent serious trouble.[4]

Bajer’s account proves once more that song played a central role in the battle for control of the streets. Unfortunately, no recorded version of the song survives today, only the lyrics.[5]

"Hitlerleute" ("Hitler's people")Edit

That song had the same tune of the Italian fascist anthem "Giovinezza".[6]

This is not to be confused with "Die Hitlerleute", more commonly referred to as "Kameraden Laßt Erschallen", which is a completely different song.

"Heil Hitler Dir!" ("Deutschland Erwache")Edit

The song "Deutschland Erwache" ("Germany Awake"), also known by its original name, "Heil Hitler Dir" ("Hail 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

A piano version of the song

"SS marschiert in Feindesland" ("SS marches in enemy territory") also known as "Teufelslied" ("The Devil's Song")[7] was a marching song of the Waffen-SS during the German-Soviet War. The music for this song came from the "Lied der Legion Condor" ("Song of the Condor Legion"), which was written by Wolfram Philipps and Christian Jährig, two Condor Legion pilots with the rank of Oberleutnant. A marching song with the same melody was adopted by the Charlemagne French SS Division,[8] the Estonian SS Division, the Latvian Legion and the Norwegian Legion during the war.[9] A song with a similar melody, "Dragões do Ar" ("Dragons of the Air"), was adopted by the Paratroopers Brigade (Brazil).[10]

In 2013, Stefan Gotschacher, press secretary of the right-wing populist and national-conservative FPÖ political party in Austria, was fired after posting lyrics of the song on his Facebook page.[11]

"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.[12]

The original song's refrain (1932) was "Denn heute 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...").[13]

"Vorwärts! Vorwärts!"Edit

"Vorwärts! Vorwärts! schmettern die hellen Fanfaren" ("Forward! Forward! Blare the Bright Fanfares") was 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.

"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".[14]


"Panzerlied" was a German military marching song of the Wehrmacht armored troops (Panzerwaffe), composed in 1933.[15] The NSKK (Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps) also made their own take on the Panzerlied, but with a different variation called the Panzerwagenlied. In 2017, the Bundeswehr was banned from publishing songbooks containing Panzerlied and other marching songs by the Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen as part of new efforts at denazification.[16]

Other musicEdit


  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. ^ a b[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ "The Internationale (Third Reich version!)". 27 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Hitlerleute (Lyrics)". May 10, 2017 – via Internet Archive.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "YouTube".[dead YouTube link]
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "YouTube".[dead YouTube link]
  11. ^ "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)
  12. ^ "Lieder der Hitlerjugend" [Songs of the Hitler Youth]. Demokratische Blätter (in German). 7 (78). 1935.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ The Music came before the Lyrics and the first recording of the Panzerlied was an Instrumental, released way before the lyrics were created and it was publishee by Telefunken under the name “Die Eiserne Schar” Nazi imagery from Taiwan stems from ignorance, not hate, analysts say, Los Angeles Times
  16. ^ ""Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss": Ministerium stoppt Bundeswehr-Liederbuch" ["Dark-brown is the hazelnut": Ministry withdraws Bundeswehr songbook]. Der Spiegel. 12 May 2017.

Further readingEdit

  • 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.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Nazi songs at Wikimedia Commons