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The Watch on the Rhine

From Academic Kids

Die Wacht am Rhein (in English, "The Watch on the Rhine") is a German patriotic anthem which was particularly popular during the First World War.

The poem was written in 1840 by the Swabian merchant Max Schneckenburger amid German fears that France was planning to annex the left bank of the Rhine River. The text calls for Germans to defend the Rhine against unspecified enemies. It was later set to music in 1854 by the musical director of the city of Krefeld, Karl Wilhelm. The repeated refrain is "Lieb' Vaterland, magst ruhig sein, Fest steht und treu die Wacht am Rhein!" (Beloved land of our fathers, have no fear, Fast and true stands the watch on the Rhine).

In several fictional settings, the song plays a role. When it is sung in the movie Casablanca, it is drowned out by La Marseillaise which is sung in response; these two songs were juxtaposed in exactly the same way five years earlier, in Jean Renoir's 1937 film La Grande Illusion. It provides the title for Lillian Hellman's cautionary pre-World War II play Watch on the Rhine. Its melody is adapted by Kander and Ebb in their musical play and movie Cabaret as a fictional Nazi anthem, "Tomorrow Belongs to Me", meant to be reminiscent both of Die Wacht am Rhein and the Horst Wessel Lied.

Text

The following is the complete text of Die Wacht am Rhein:

1.

Es braust ein Ruf wie Donnerhall,
wie Schwertgeklirr und Wogenprall:
Zum Rhein, zum Rhein, zum deutschen Rhein!
Wer will des Stromes Hüter sein?

Refrain

Lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein,
lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein:
Fest steht und treu die Wacht,
die Wacht am Rhein!
Fest steht und treu die Wacht,
die Wacht am Rhein!

2.

Durch Hunderttausend zuckt es schnell,
und aller Augen blitzen hell;
der Deutsche bieder, fromm und stark,
beschützt die heil'ge Landesmark.
Refrain

3.

Er blickt hinauf in Himmelsau'n,
wo Heldenväter niederschau'n,
und schwört mit stolzer Kampfeslust:
Du Rhein bleibst deutsch wie meine Brust!
Refrain

4.

Solang ein Tropfen Glut noch glüht,
noch eine Faust den Degen zieht,
und noch ein Arm die Büchse spannt,
betritt kein Feind hier deinen Strand!
Refrain

5.

Der Schwur erschallt, die Woge rinnt
die Fahnen flattern hoch im Wind:
Am Rhein, am Rhein, am deutschen Rhein
wir alle wollen Hüter sein.
Refrain

Between the 4th and 5th verses, the following version is inserted:

Und ob mein Herz im Tode bricht,
wirst du doch drum ein Welscher nicht.
Reich, wie an Wasser deine Flut,
ist Deutschland ja an Heldenblut!

In the war postcards of the First World War, the following 7th verse was widespread:

So führe uns, du bist bewährt;
In Gottvertrau'n greif' zu dem Schwert,
Hoch Wilhelm! Nieder mit der Brut!
Und tilg' die Schmach mit Feindesblut!

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